Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum made a bit of news this weekend, declaring that “we will never have the elite, smart people on our side" at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Doug Mataconis has a good sense of why Santorum would feel compelled to utter such a brutally quotable statement.
What Santorum said today is emblematic of rhetoric you hear quite frequently from people on the right such as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. Generally, they idea seems to be that there’s something about being intelligent, or curious about the world, or interested in something beyond the orthodox interpretations of history and the law that conservatives insist upon. You see it manifest itself in the rejection of even the rather obvious fact that humanity can have an influence on the environment around it and, most irrationally, in the very rejection of everything that biology, anthropology, physics, and cosmology teach us. For many on the right, it’s easier to believe in the stories written in a 6,000 year old book than it is in the evidence of just how amazing the universe around them actually is. They can believe whatever they want, of course, but the fact that they constantly try to force these beliefs on others, most especially through the public school system, makes their disdain for knowledge a matter of public concern.
Mataconis is correct to note Santorum was merely repeating a tired trope from populist, reactionary conservatism. The figures he names are valiantly defending ordinary (real) Americans from "elites" in shadowy and powerful positions like the U.S. government, higher education, and the media. (Whether there is any truth to their crusade remains unanswered.)
This is hardly new information, so I'll abstain from writing more.
The real tragedy is that a man -- who adores dressing in sweater vests -- could possibly miss the irony of attacking university professors for being out of touch.