Senator Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Find The Silver-Lining In The Popularity of Rick Santorum

March 23, 2012

Humor

When Rick Santorum first got mentioned as running for the Republican nomination, I laughed a bit, because, you know… Santorum.  He’s insane.  If this were a different time-period is there even a doubt that he’d burning witches?

It can really feel like we live in a hate-filled time, but there is a silver-lining, so to speak, to the homophobic hatred of he and people like the loons of the Westboro Baptist Church.  Honest, there is.  And while the bile they spill is real, I wanted to share my reasons why you should feel good about the popularity of Rick Santorum.  To understand why I say so, though, we have to go back a little bit.

If it'll make it more enticing, we can take the Delorean to get there.

Our journey begins on July 8, 1741.

Wait!  Come back!  Don’t stop reading just yet – I swear this isn’t going to be a 75-page blog entry.  We won’t be here long, and then we’ll zip right back to present day. I will even include a picture of Legos, if that will help.

That day was the first time Jonathan Edwards delivered his sermon known to historians, theologians, and bored Honors-English high-schoolers as “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.”  This venomous diatribe – a sermon that would last for hours, sometimes – attempted to frighten people in to repenting and converting. It preaches that God loathes you.  He hates you more than a disgusting insect that he’s holding over a fire, and he wants – oh, how he wants – a reason to drop you in to the flame.  And every time you do those things you do or think about doing (you know what I’m talking about), his hatred rises and rises.

Edwards vision of God's loving embrace for pretty much everyone but him.

It’s a very funny sermon (The God of infinite love hates you so much it makes him physically nauseous), except for the fact that Edwards was dead serious.  It’s typically held up as the quintessential example of that darkest, most xenophobic Puritanical thinking.  But the thing is, it wasn’t given during the Puritan era – it was given when that way of life had all but ended. What his sermon really reveals is someone raging against the dying of a way of life. His sermons could only exist fueled by the anger of someone who knows his views are over.

Similarly, you don’t see figures like the Westboro Baptists 50-60 years ago, because their way of thinking (well, okay – not their way.  They’re just ridiculous) was the norm.  Someone like Santorum only gets rallied around because we know – we all know – the tipping point has passed.  Recognizing the rights of homosexuals, most significantly, is clearly the direction society is moving; and at a pretty quick pace, for social change.

And so when someone comes along who embodies this anger – and don’t let the marionette-plastic smile fool you, Santorum is a cauldron of anger – it can feel like we’ve taken this big step back. The truth is, though, that demagogues like this only really emerge because the war?  The war is over.  They just won’t stop fighting the battles.  And the recognition of their loss fuels them to the point of absurdity.

Technically speaking, I suppose Radiohead would be looked on as fairly freakish in any community of monkeys.

I mean, back to the Westboro Baptists.  Have you seen who they’re protesting now?  The band Radiohead.  First it was God Hates Fags, then it was Thank God For Dead Soldiers… now, in a frankly kind of sad attempt to stay in the headlines, they’re protesting a popular concert tour, accusing Radiohead of being “Freak monkeys with mediocre tunes.”

*Side note: if you’re ever in a band playing where I can see them, called “Freak Monkey and the Mediocre Tunes”?  I will go see you play.

This isn’t to say that stupid or evil or dangerous people don’t come in to power – obviously they do.  But when people rally around someone that hateful, with such fervor, on the longer timeline, it can be helpful to me to try to see it for what it is: A last stand.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Blog in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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48 Comments on “Senator Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Find The Silver-Lining In The Popularity of Rick Santorum”

  1. shoes Says:

    This actually does make me feel a bit better about that asshat getting so much attention, thank you,

    Reply

  2. susielindau Says:

    This is excellent Byronic Man. The voice of reason and a Lego picture too!
    Happy Friday!

    Reply

  3. tomwisk Says:

    Santorum is an example of the newly converted. In his case to 14th century Catholicism. He scares me, and I went rabid Catholic back at age twelve. I grew out of it.

    Reply

  4. cassiebehle Says:

    Try as I might, I just CAN’T get into politics! I figure they all have hidden agendas anyway. And I’m not Nancy Drew, nor have I ever been a Boxcar Child. Dems the breaks. Dems. Like democracy. And this is where my political journey ends.

    Reply

  5. sj Says:

    WBC protested the funeral of a friend’s husband – he was KIA and I can’t speak or think about them without bile rising.

    I’m trying to figure out what is possibly wrong with Radiohead. They’re one of the best bands currently touring! I guess Thom does look kind of monkey-ish (particularly when he’s dancing during Idioteque), but still. <.<

    Reply

  6. crubin Says:

    Let’s hope it’s his last stand. Because the thought of him putting someone in the Supreme Court is beyond scary.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      The Supreme court nominee element is always one of the most daunting. A lot of times politics can have a real “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” feel – but the impacts of a court appointment or direct and far-reaching.

      Reply

  7. Elyse Says:

    I hope you’re right because the alternative is too frightening.

    Reply

  8. BrainRants Says:

    I have a much more fitting solution for the Westboro Church retards than to let them fade away as you suggest. Mine’s faster. Much faster. That doesn’t make me very understanding, but then again, I take that crap personally.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Oh, I would support decisive resolution of Westboro Baptists. I’m not that easy going. Santorum will fade in time, but with WBC… you know… anything that could hasten the fade. Although I did love Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters pulling up outside their church on a flatbed and playing a concert during their services. “Oh, is this disruptive? Uncalled for?”

      Reply

  9. Deborah the Closet Monster Says:

    I have never, ever, ever loved your blog more than I do right now. Rock on.

    Reply

  10. Anastasia Says:

    Absolutely no doubt he’d be burning witches… and gleefully embroiling us in WWIII. What I find funny is that I don’t run across any blogs online (either liking mine, or that I find accidentally) who like Santorum or agree with Westboro. Why is that? Guess I shouldn’t really question my luck.

    Reply

  11. MJ, Nonstepmom Says:

    First, anyone with an issue with RadioHead is just moronic. I have thought that if Hitler was born into this day & age; instead of taking the Dictator route, he may have gone with he more subtle ‘mega-church” approach. These people are so very frightening.
    It makes me feel so much better knowing that the intelligent people/bloggers out there see through the poison ! There’s a special place in lego hell for them….

    Reply

  12. madtante Says:

    Lookie! I can post comments today, apparently!!

    Great post and I hope you’re right. It’s always easier for people to not know/ understand HOW MANY PEOPLE are a certain way (gay, bigoted, whatever) when they live in a less backwards area.

    My friend from Cali always talks about how she’s in the Bible Belt and lives surrounded by Conservatives. Then, she made friends with me and some other people…She stopped complaining. The KKK is still active where I live, for example. I work with a chick in the KKK. It’s common enough here that they don’t try to hide it and most people think they a bit “zealous” but wouldn’t go against them (or what they stand for).

    I hope it’s all dying off!

    Reply

  13. angeliquejamail Says:

    Oh my goodness, I hope you’re right. And yes, your perspective does make me feel slightly better. Taking the long view seems to be something a lot of politicians seem to be incapable of these days, sadly. One of my favorite online comments (wish I knew who’d originally said it, but I found it retweeted) back during the GOP debates was “The last time dudes this crazy debated something, it was over how to kill Batman.”

    Reply

  14. Elyse Says:

    Bryon, I have the answer for you. I read today about a study out of Duke Medical that says that hyper religious folks — not the normal church going type, but the Santorum-esque ones — have more brain atrophy than folks who are not hyper religious. To quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up: http://triangle.news14.com/content/641521/duke-study-shows-religious-factors-could-change-brain

    Everything is now clear.

    Reply

  15. they still let me vote Says:

    I don’t know about Radiohead, i’m still fuming about Beethoven and Mozart….now THAT really should have been nipped in the bud long ago. If you play Mozart’s symphonies backwards they tell you to vote Democrat you know…

    Keep fighting the good fight Byronic Man.

    By the way what is the catalogue number for the featued Lego set..fancy a go at that one myself…..

    Reply

  16. Rocket Says:

    Like a lot of people, I love Radiohead, and I think Santorum is a joke. I wrote an essay about the WBC and all I could say is that if I had any hope for humanity, that hope just facepalmed itself.

    Reply

  17. thesinglecell Says:

    While I wouldn’t quite equate Santorum with the Westboro Baptist “Church,” I completely agree with your point. It’s one I’ve been thinking of fleshing out into a political post on my blog. Much as the “clinging to guns and religion” line went over like a lead balloon, it wasn’t wrong, and the reason it wasn’t wrong was because that way of life belongs in another time and those who embrace it don’t want to accept the passage of that time. What I find really interesting is how many people in the present don’t want to accept the passage of that time. Good read.

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Certainly they’re in wildly different leagues, but I’m looking at that entire faction of, in particular, the “Gay People Are Scary” contingent.

      And I agree about the passage of time. Often the sentiment being expressed has some grounding, it’s just that there’s no one involved who can express it, much less recognize that it’s adhering to a need that’s since passed.

      Reply

  18. barkinginthedark Says:

    gots to love the Santorum…this gift that keeps on giving is one of my favorite targets. continue…

    Reply

    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Where would humor writers be without the Republican party? Not that the democrats are so with it, of course, it’s just that the Democrats manage to do so much damage to themselves that laughing at them is like picking on a kid who just tripped and fell on his own birthday cake.

      Reply

  19. Blogdramedy Says:

    Well said and I even read the whole post. Why are you not running for office? 😉

    Reply

  20. jamie Says:

    I think that’s an excellent analysis of Santorum (can you tell I’m going back through time?). But tell me, if he represents the last stand, what the hell does Cain represent?!

    Reply

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