NEW HAMPSHIRE: Santorum, Mr. Wrong for Conservative Women

BlogHer Original Post

Seems this Republican field of presidential candidates can't take a step forward without a few backwards for women voters.

Admittedly, I'm a social moderate, but a Republican nonetheless. Don't raise my taxes, burden my business, add more government to my life, or run the government budget ashore.

You get what you get, and not a penny more.

Don't tread on me.

The Republican candidates -- aside from being all white males - are very different from one another. We have Mormons, Catholics, a twice-divorced man, a father of adopted daughters, a Libertarian isolationist, a senator, a congressman, two governors, a wide range of ages and family compositions.

Yet, it's still a very packed field even with the recent drop-out of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. If you're a betting girl, then the latest InTrade prediction of Gov. Mitt Romney snagging the Republican Presidential nomination by 83% will interest you.

The candidates have made as many right as wrong steps, in politics as in life -- but they lived the lives they wanted. That's what freedom's all about.

But sharing oxygen with liberals in Washington, D.C. may have squashed the Republican Party's once-important precept: personal responsibility.

No candidate could be speaking further from our modern conservative woman's epicenter than Senator Rick Santorum.

On the surface, he's a likeable and non-threatening guy. He sports sweater vests and dotes on his family. When he smiles, he shows every last tooth.

Rick Santorum
SALEM (U.S.), Jan. 10, 2012 U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign at Town Hall in Salem, New Hampshire, the U.S., on Jan. 9, 2012. (Credit Image: © Fang Zhe/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Here's also a man who overcame great personal loss. I cannot imagine, nor would anyone want to dare face the death of a child. It's a devastating wound that's left a visible scar on his family.

It paints an authentic and painfully human picture.

Yet during Saturday night's debate in New Hampshire and recently on the campaign trail, he's seemingly blaming the nation's problems on American society needing a good swift kick back to the 1950s.

If women just stayed home with the babies, gays didn't marry, and only straight couples raised kids, America wouldn't be in this jobless, endebted tailspin.

Well, Mr. Santorum, I'll bite.

He paints a charming picture, a la AMC's Mad Men-style Betty Drapers greeting dashing Dons at the door with a rye highball and the kids sacked out in front of America's best babysitter.

No abortions, no birth control, only straight and vanilla as far as the eye can see.

Well first of all, God bless the woman who has a job good enough so their husbands can spend more time with the kids or afford daycare or nannies, especially single moms.

It's exactly this sort of silly idealism that the AdoptUSKids campaign pokes fun at in a brilliant and tender way.

On the one hand, Santorum disagrees that gays should raise children, and on the other he rejects the notion of birth control or abortion.

After years of infertility, I'm the last person to agree with abortion. But you cannot stand ground on both ends of the spectrum.

More than 26,000 preteens are currently are on adoption lists in America. While it's plausible for those conceptions to have resulted from inseminations, or worse, abuse, I imagine most were conceived consensually between man and woman.

Santorum recently stated that what's right is "Giving every child in America their birthright, which is being raised by their own mother and father. So we want to encourage what is the best for children."

He's not entirely alone or wrong in these beliefs. Courts struggle across America with giving birth parents another shot at raising their kids, even when evidence mounts against their ability.

But conceiving a child doesn't make one a "parent." Yes, giving birth, as I will blessedly do in April, does make you a birth parent. There are valid ethical concerns around instances of domestic newborn adoption agencies violating birth parent rights. But unfortunately, some people abdicate those rights and that responsibility.

I'd like to give Mr. Santorum the benefit of the doubt; he may have never ventured much outside his Pleasantville bubble.

In my foster parent classes, our caseworkers described endless cases of children born and separated from unfit parents at birth over and over. In one case, one couple raised not one but eight children by the same mother from eight fathers and she had more.

Sure, it's extreme, but true.

With thousands of kids aging out of the foster care system every year, is whether there are two moms or two dads raising a kid really that much of a concern to the Commander-in-Chief?

I'd rather see those children raised in a loving home regardless of family make-up than ending up without forming healthy human bonds, including reactive attachment disorder. In California, 70% of former foster kids populate our prisons.

Just a week ago, a Fox News contributor Penny Nance, affiliated with the Concerned Women for America, proclaimed Santorum the woman voter's candidate because "his stance on the sanctity of life and traditional marriage gained the voters' attention."

But as I pointed out in my prior post, Iowa's not exactly the stomping ground for female political empowerment, and Santorum's all but conceded he's not the New Hampshire favorite.

I cannot fault Mr. Santorum for being who he is and sticking to it come what may.

You may keep your beliefs, your faith and your family just as God and country gave them to you, Mr. Santorum.

I will defend the same rights.

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