Igor Volsky caught up with Rick Santorum campaigning in New Hampshire this morning, and he videotaped a doozy: Santorum coming as close as possible to proclaiming inequality to be a positive and constructive force, and insisting that efforts to combat it are un-American:
Santorum said, presumably speaking about Democrats:
They don’t believe in you. They’re trying to get rid of health savings accounts. Why? They don’t trust you, that you can provide for yourself. They don’t believe in you.
No, we have to have something for everybody! We can’t have people having access to better health insurance than other people. No! No, it all has to be the same! Is that American? Equality of result? Is that what built the greatest country in the history of the world? No. That’s what’s destroying most of the countries in the world.
What’s amusing is that Santorum is actually outdoing the similar case Romney frequently makes. Romney has made the insane claim that Obama favors “equal outcomes” and giving everyone the “same rewards” a regular feature of his stump speech. Santorum is employing a similar refrain — he’s talking about the Dem desire for “equality of result” — but he’s going further still, sneering at the very idea that “we have to have something for everybody.”
The notion that government should take steps to ensure that some people are not left with nothing at all is not only beneath contempt, but perhaps even vaguely un-American. Given how often the GOP candidates are now trafficking in this kind of Bech-Bachmann-level craziness, it seems clear that it must have great appeal to GOP primary voters who for some reason enjoy indulging in the fantasy that Obama yearns to impose mass government-enforced equality on America. And the candidates are actually trying to outdo one another on this score. Call it the inequality primary.
What’s particularly striking is that this comes at a moment when polls show that large majorities of Americans are concerned about rising inequality and want steps taken to address it. It’s another measure of the degree to which the GOP primary electorate is floating away from the rest of us.
UPDATE: I see I need to clarify something about this sentence: “The notion that government should take steps to ensure that some people are not left with nothing at all is not only beneath contempt, but perhaps even vaguely un-American.”
I could have been clearer, but this was meant as a pharaphrase of what Santorum thinks, with a bit of admittedly heavy handed reductio ad absurdum thrown in.