Home/Rod Dreher/Santorum’s ‘preferential populism’

Santorum’s ‘preferential populism’

Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board thinks Rick Santorum’s economic ideas are unfair:


He’s the frugal guy, the man of faith, the person who understands the financial worries of average Americans. He’s directly contrasting his own blue-collar bona fides with those of the more privileged Mr. Romney.

Identity politics is often a winner, and Mr. Santorum does it well. If only he could stop at identifying with this audience, rather than feeling the need to give them special favors.

Huh? Translation: “If only he would pander insincerely to them instead of actually promising to do something for them and their situation.” More:

And so at the heart of the Santorum agenda are policies designed to give special handouts to the working class, simply because they are the working class—and even then only to segments of this group. That’s behind Mr. Santorum’s zero corporate tax on manufacturers, which benefits only Americans working in manufacturing. (Job at Wal-Mart? No soup for you!) It’s behind his plan to triple the child tax credit, which benefits only Americans fortunate enough to have a child. (Stalled love life? No soup for you, either!) Call it preferential populism.

Um, I could be wrong about this, but I seem to recall that the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board generally having no problem with preferential elitism using tax policy — specifically, giving tax breaks — to the upper class simply because they are the investor class the upper class. Anyway, perhaps Santorum favors giving tax breaks to the working class because they have been very hard hit by the recession, and have lost massive ground compared to the upper classes in recent decades (see here and here). Perhaps Santorum wishes to use the tax code to incentivize manufacturing in America because he would like to see American people employed making stuff again, at a good wage, rather than employed selling stuff, at a depressed wage, that China manufactures. That Santorum truly is History’s Greatest Monster. And maybe, just maybe, Santorum understands that if we are going to have enough Americans to pay taxes to support the next generation, we are either going to have to import them via immigration, or grow them ourselves.

Ross Douthat is worth reading on this. See Ramesh Ponnuru too.



about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment

Latest Articles