.

The Reason Rick Santorum Downplays His Illinois Ties

Letter to the Editor.

The Illinois Republican primary should have a been a triumphant homecoming of sorts for the Santorum for President campaign. After all, the former Pennsylvania Senator briefly attended and graduated from Mundelein’s Carmel Catholic High School in north suburban Lake County. His chief Illinois backer is Al Salvi, a former state representative and failed U.S. Senate candidate who is not only a fellow Carmel graduate, but whose family’s wealthy trial lawyer fortune paid for the Carmel gymnasium that bears the Salvi name. 

Santorum “supporters” created a “Carmel High School for Santorum” Facebook page, (apparently moderated by Salvi family members) that touts Santorum as model Carmel graduate who “embodies everything that true practicing Catholics believe.”  And, Santorum’s overt expressions of faith supposedly offer great appeal to the Chicago area’s heavily Catholic electorate.

Yet Santorum is avoiding the Salvi athletic center, the city of Mundelein and all of Lake County, which is home to one of the largest concentrations of GOP voters in the state.  Instead, he chose to campaign in suburban Cook County at Christian Liberty Academy, which is an evangelical fundamentalist Christian school founded on such values as a literal interpretation of the Bible, adherence to “God’s law” over man’s and outright opposition to all public education.

Santorum’s avoidance of the very Catholics who the media insist are his natural political base in the very region where they should be most amenable to his message suggests Santorum knows what many Catholics and certainly what many members of the Carmel community think of him and his campaign.

Carmel High School is as a college preparatory school that “fosters respect for diversity, mutual growth and development,” and is part of the Catholic Church’s centuries-long commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. Listening to Rick Santorum, one would think he’s the product of some shady institution created by a televangelist during the age of disco to provide an academic pretense for challenging scientific consensus and reversing decades of social progress.

Santorum has embarrassingly cast himself as a vociferous defender of “Intelligent Design.” He pushed legislation instructing teachers to downplay evolution and teach that specific brand of creationism, and bragged how he angered the Biology Teachers Association and sparked years of conflict over the issue in schools across the country. Carmel has a nationally-recognized academic program, and 25% of students pursue science and engineering careers. They know about evolution – and that the Catholic Church rejects “Intelligent Design,” has supported evolution for more than 50 years and decries the use of the Bible as a source of scientific knowledge.

Equally inexplicable are Santorum’s claim that “Satan” has infiltrated the university system and his attack on President Obama as a “snob” for reasonably suggesting that all high school graduates further their education by at least one year. “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college,” Santorum said, “because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely." 99% of Carmel graduates attend college, apparently all doomed to become a bunch of elitists brainwashed by the devil.

Santorum defended a TV preacher who described Islam as “evil,” calling his statement “reasonable,indulged birtherism at a campaign event and exploited racial stereotypes by saying he didn’t “want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money.” This typical Santorum behavior hardly reflects Carmel’s values of respect for self and others – values based in Catholic social teaching, which “calls us to overcome barriers of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and nationality.”

Santorum is a proud nemesis of church-state separation, and where it appeals to the Republican base, he champions his religious values fiercely and unapologetically – railing against abortion, contraception and gay marriage with more apocalyptic condemnation than most will ever hear at mass.   But it is unimaginable that Santorum would ever publicly espouse such indivisible Catholic principles as economic justice, prioritizing the needs of the poor and respect for the global community – particularly where the Church explicitly calls for government intervention in the free market.  Instead, he artfully promotes right-wing fundamentalist notions opposed by the Church and that he definitely never studied at Carmel.  The media call Santorum an “evangelical Catholic,” which is simply a misleading euphemism that makes his political pandering appear virtuous.

Carmel students learn values that serve as a foundation for how they live, not as a guidebook for demeaning others and certainly not as a blueprint for remaking government. They are encouraged to think independently and respect cultural and religious diversity. How graduates apply their values as adults in a pluralistic society is a responsibility each confronts individually, and they develop the same political ideologies and opinions on controversial issues as most Americans – including forming their own views on the proper roles for government and religion in social and economic matters.

All of this is not to characterize Santorum as a “bad Catholic” and certainly not to challenge the way he has personally lived his faith, which in some respects is admirable. Rather, the bottom line is that Rick Santorum, the politician, has constructed his own independent theology, piecing together the most electorally beneficial elements of Catholicism, ignoring or deriding its other tenets and shrouding it all in rhetoric that frequently runs counter to the academic rigor and values central to the Carmel High School experience.

Rick Santorum lost the Catholic vote in nearly every primary, perhaps because Catholics recognize his divisive anti-intellectual ranting as antithetical to their own religion. (Why the media believe Catholic voters would instinctively support a Catholic candidate who campaigns as a fundamentalist is an open question.) Rick Santorum won’t target Catholic voters in Illinois because he knows they see through him.  And he won’t go anywhere near Carmel High School because he knows that so many in the larger Carmel community view him not as a point of pride, but as a high-profile embarrassment.

Brian Herman is a communication strategist for political, nonprofit and corporate clients. He was Communications Director for Dan Onorato’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and External Affairs Director at Media Matters for America, as well as Deputy Campaign Manager for ex-Rep. Melissa Bean’s (D-IL) 2004 campaign and Communications Director/Senior Policy Advisor for her Congressional office. He grew up in Lake County, Illinois, graduated from Carmel Catholic High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia College in Chicago.

jmarie March 16, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Mr Herman was a consultant for Media Matters, etc? You mean the Media Matters that takes marching orders from the Democratic National Committee? Mr. Herman is a liberal thinker...nuff said. Intellectually dishonest discourse is finally being called on the mat!! Yeah!!
Fred Schwaneke March 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
fcs III jmarie, So what I am hearing is that you automatically dismiss the analysis because of who said it and not what was said. That's why public discourse is dead today: too much name-calling, not enough actual intelligent discussion.
Cheryl Wessely March 16, 2012 at 05:23 PM
So Santorum is seemingly pandering to the evangelical fundamentalists as his voter base, perhaps modifying his dogmata to appeal to this group? I find this pandering preferable to those who pander to a specific ethnic group, then don't deliver to those groups when successfully elected.
michelle burke March 16, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I agree with Herman's remarks. As a fellow alum of Carmel (and within a year or so, Columbia alum), I am actually not disappointed in saying that I went to a CATHOLIC high school, minus the fights with my parents to do so in the years preceding it. Hopefully, people protesting his Arlington Heights speaking engagement will wake him up to the fact that he is spewing BS about his education. I am happy to say that Santorum is digging his own grave and not getting my vote.
Human Ape March 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM
"Santorum has embarrassingly cast himself as a vociferous defender of Intelligent Design. He pushed legislation instructing teachers to downplay evolution and teach that specific brand of creationism, and bragged how he angered the Biology Teachers Association and sparked years of conflict over the issue in schools across the country." This was part of the never ending Christian war against America's science education. Should this flat-earther be allowed to become President of the United States? Of course not. He belongs in prison for treason. 1. Type "darwin killed god" in the google search box. 2. Click the I'm Feeling Lucky button.
lavisitor March 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Sorry, I don't live in your area, but I was directed to this article by a friend. I have to state that Rick Santorum is exactly the man I would love to have as president. If it is true that the Catholic church does not believe in Intelligent Design and adheres to evolution, then that is a very sad fact. I lived as a Catholic for 30 years before my eyes were opened 22 years ago to the truths of God's Word. By the way, Americans, to save this country we must vote for anyone who opposes Obama. I am not a Romney fan by any means, but I will vote for him if it means unseating Barack Obama.
Par Golfer March 16, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I am a Catholic,graduated from a Catholic university and Libertyville resident so I know of Carmel High School. I am also a Mitt Romney supporter that being said after reading the article - then reading the bio of the "reporter" it is clear that it's written from a very left wing slant given the author's affiliations. Their slant is to always protray conservative behavior as "weird" or "out of touch" while they themselves engage in the same behavior. They "use" blacks in churches to praise the gospel of the democratic party giving away fat hams yet blame everything a republican stands for on the church?
Mary Ann Phillips March 16, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I was raised a Catholic in Libertyville during the time Rick Santorum attended Carmel High School, I continue to live in Libertyville, and I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Herman's analysis. I will add this to his analysis, as well: I believe that Rick Santorum avoids Libertyville and Lake County because while he lived here, his parents were both employed by the Great Lakes Naval Base -- government workers, supporting their family on taxpayers' money. So a guy who is vehemently opposed to government health care grew up receiving...government health care. That irony would not be lost on many local residents. Further, if people don't "like" Mr. Herman's credentials as having worked for Media Matters, then then here is yet another voice on the reasons why many Catholics do not support Rick Santorum's candidacy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-gehring/the-catholic-case-against_b_1184224.html
lavisitor March 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Slanted WAY left and total hypocrisy. You are exactly right.
Jen March 17, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Too many "haters" are posting to this ridiculous article. Who cares if his parents worked at the navy base, contributing to the effort to sustain our national defense? Who cares if he has a rally at a Christian academy as opposed to Mundelein (where he and his strategists may believe he has already sewn up the catholic, primary voter)? This tacky and not well researched rant by a democrat operative should be seen for what it is. Oh, and by the way, the Catholic church has never taken an official position on Darwin's theory of evolution. The Church simply teaches that God (the intelligent designer) could have created the universe with a big bang or otherwise, but that there is, indeed, a God who brought forth all existence from nothingness. The Church also teaches that, at a certain point in time, human souls entered human bodies (Adam and Eve). The Church does not teach that a human soul evolved or evolves.
John Walsh March 17, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Thank you Mr. Herman for your valuable insight. Santorum and Catholic Values? Don't make me throw up. Santorum is a phony pro-life WAR MONGER. He voted for the invasion of Iraq. He is currently advocating an attack - WAR - with Iran, using the same argument he used to justify the unconstitutional undeclared war on the Iraqi people. The Jesuits at SICP taught us about "social justice'. Guess what? Social Justice is Catholic princilples endorsed by the US Conferance of Bishops. Bottom line, Santorum is dangerous and cannot be trusted to govern anything.
Kathleen March 17, 2012 at 02:29 PM
While this article is a jab at Santorum, it is also a dig at Catholic Republicans, as if we are not being good Catholics if we don't buy into the current administration's plans for social justice. The Church's mission of social justice is not a simple matter of economic justice, but is more complex, relating to the rights of individuals, their religious freedom and their human development. I do not believe the current administration is working for the same kind of social justice as the Catholic Church advocates. The Democratic party's platform is material in nature, traced to secular humanism and Marxist historical theory in which all people are motivated solely by their material circumstances, as if humanity's ideals and the individual conscience are irrelevant. I am supporting Ron Paul, not Santorum, and religion has nothing to do with it. Like Obama, Santorum represents an ever-growing federal government with ever-growing power within our borders and beyond. The more powerful the state, the less powerful the individual. What good is your conscience if you are not free to act on it?
John Walsh March 17, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Jen, nice of you to forget that Santroum "hates" JFK, Universities and public schools. Kathleen, too bad you overlook the ever increasing power of the multi-national corporations - "corporations are people, too" - over government. That is the root of the fears you have, not the government. This liberal Catholic, schooled in social justice, will pick up a Republicon primary ballot and vote for Paul, because he is the only anti-war Republicon Presidential candidate. The rest of Paul's political positions have little grounding in reality.
Jim Smith March 18, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Santorum is for the Defense of Marriage Act. Bill Clinton enacted the Defense of Marriage act against the Gay Lifestyle. Bill Clinton enacted, don't ask don't tell. Any Questions ?
steve shay March 18, 2012 at 05:56 AM
As a (left wing) political strategist, Brian Herman is being intellectually dishonest here. He understands darn well that many politicians avoid a community where they feel they are already popular, or where their appearance would not make as big an impact as another community in the same state. While I am not a Santorum fan, I know he has time and money constraints. In addition, Mr. Herman's bio touts his being "Communications Director for Dan Onorato’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign". I Googled that and Herman's Dem candidate Onorato lost that Pennsylvania race by 360,000 votes to a Republican. As Onorato is a PA politician, me thinks Herman has a Santorium chip on his shoulder.- Steve Shay
John Walsh March 19, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Well, this is politics, isn't it? Go home and put your big boy pants on. Making excuses for Santorum or the Catholic Church is no way to elect someone to govern.
marco sangria March 20, 2012 at 03:32 AM
sounds like Mitt wouldnt appeal to Mr Herman as well. Mr Herman your objectivity overwhelms me.
Tom S. March 22, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Since when are letters to the editor supposed to be "objective" and written by "reporters?" So far nobody has offered any factual objection to what Herman wrote, just partisan complaints about a partisan author. The links in the piece clearly support his assertions and nobody has offered evidence to the contrary. I also don't see how this is an attack on all Catholic Republicans unless they agree with Santorum 100%. The complaint here is not that Santorum doesn't "buy into" the current administration's policies on social justice. It doesn't mention a single policy or position of the Democratic party or the Obama administration. Santorum's problem is that he pretends to be such a devout Catholic that separating his religion from governing makes him vomit, yet he publicly disagrees with his religion on countless issues. Santorum himself set the standard and he clearly doesn't meet it. I don't see how the author of this piece is hypocritical. It's pretty clear how Santorum is. And the idea that Santorum had Lake County or the Catholic vote "locked up" is laughable based on the election results. Every politician reaches for ANY connection to the people they want to vote for him (funny how John Kerry discovered he was Jewish in 2004). Santorum could have taken an extra 10 or 15 minutes to visit Mundelein or ANY Catholic school in IL.
steve shay March 22, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Tom S.: I offered a factual objection to what Herman wrote. The fact is that Santorum knew from poling and demographics trends that Romney pwned Lake County, so why waste his time? As I said, I am not a supporter of Santorum. Also, Herman includes his bio which states he is a political strategist. That means he is not simply a citizen expressing himself in a typical letter to the editor, but rather a political insider. So that means we, the voting public, get to be a bit more critical of his "professional" observations.
Ellen March 22, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Just one; Do u know what century it is now?
Tom S. March 22, 2012 at 06:32 PM
The point of the piece (and certainly the part people seem to be most up in arms about) is apparently that Santorum did not target Catholics though everyone says that's his base and he's so "devout". It certainly looks that way since he didn't campaign at/with any Catholic school or community group in all of Illinois. Even religious schools will allow a politician to speak under the right circumstances. Santorum went after fundamentalists instead. I disagree with Herman in that Santorum and certainly some in his campaign seem to be perfectly content to mention to reporters that he went to Carmel. But his energized religious supporters all seem to be hard core fundamentalists that have clear disagreements with the Catholic church that Santorum indulges to get their votes. I also disagree that Santorum "won't go anywhere near Carmel" since Arlington Heights is not too far away. As for the "why waste his time" excuse, that might make sense if Santorum's polling likely showed that he had any better chance in NW Cook county than he did in Lake County. Given the results, he probably got hammered even worse in the AH area. It seems unlikely that geography had much to do with his decision. And Herman may be a "political insider" but he is also writing from the POV of a CHS grad embarrassed by Santorum's anti-intellectualism. I wouldn't know if CHS teaches evolution, but I'd bet they do and if I was a grad or had a kid in that school now, I'd be irritated with Santorum too.
Ellen March 22, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Why would Mr Herman, or anyone else, like someone who would strap a dog to the top of the car and drive for hours? The republicans don't even like Mitt. And, do you ppl really want to live in a country where both birth control and abortion are illegal??? WOW... blows my mind.
steve shay March 22, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Tom, As you are not a political insider, or at least don't include a bio stating you are one, then I respect your assessments as fair and measured. Regarding the author of this piece, however, I cannot say the same about him.
Bucephalus March 22, 2012 at 09:42 PM
steve, that assumes a great deal. You assume that Santorum "knew" Romney would "pwn" Lake County. Yes, Romney had more than double Santorum's vote in Lake County. However, look at the results fro Puerto Rico. That was an even more obvious rout before it happened and yet Santorum and his crew went and campaigned there. It's hardly unreasonable to make your own assumption that if Santorum had no idea he was going to lose Puerto Rico that badly then he probably also had no idea he would also lose Lake County by a wide margin.
Bucephalus March 22, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Santorum spoke at John Hersey HS last Friday and then followed it up with a visit to Christian Liberty Academy. The nearest high school to both of those is Saint Viator. The distance from Hersey to Viator, by car, is a mere 1.2 miles. It's only 3/4 of a mile in a straight line, which if you also drew a straight line between Hersey and CLA, it would pass right by Saint Viator. So of the three high schools physically within Arlington Heights Santorum spoke at the two that were not Catholic.
steve shay March 22, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Bucephalus- Maybe that's because John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights does not have chocolate like Hershey High School in Pennsylvania.
Donny March 31, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The only real change canidates out there are Paul, Santorum, Gingrich. Obama and Romney are one in the same, globalist, big government, parasites.
steve shay March 31, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Donny, Yes, but the delegates are adding up and Romney will win, and unfortunately no one qualified is on the Democratic ticket.
steve shay March 31, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Bucephalus, Unlike Lake County, Santorum had a shot at Puerto Rico but then made that goof with his "English-prefered" statement. That cost him Puerto Rico.
Donny March 31, 2012 at 11:52 PM
This Libertarian Conservative will be voting for Obama in Nobember.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something