After Santorum won the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday, Politico’s Arena asked: Is Rick Santorum on the verge of a GOP nomination?

Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz argued that, for a number of reasons, Santorum would not get the nomination for 2012. But, if history is any indication, coming in second this year would make him the nominee in the next election cycle — a condition that Boaz finds a “scary possibility” among those “who find Santorum frighteningly anti-libertarian.”

Washington Post colleague Jennifer Rubin followed up in a Q&A with Boaz and asked what, exactly, makes Santorum so frightening for libertarians.

He criticizes the pursuit of happiness! He says, “This is the mantra of the left: I have a right to do what I want to do” and “We have a whole culture that is focused on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness ... and it is harming America.” And then he says that what the Founders meant by happiness was “to do the morally right thing.” He really doesn’t like the idea of America as a free society, where adults make their own decisions and sometimes make choices that Santorum disapproves.

Boaz says the danger of that would be the continuation of “a federal government committed to reshaping individuals according to a religious-conservative blueprint” that prospered under the Bush administration.