Social Issues Cloud Decision Making in 2012

COMMENTARY | On January 8, Rick Santorum got into what appeared to be a frustrating exchange with an audience about gay marriage. When I watched the YouTube video, I was annoyed by Mr. Santorum’s inflexibility. According to, GOP equals homophobic. Is that what Republicans want the focus of this election to be?

Certainly I can see that all the candidates have views on this and other social matters. The problem is that I as a voter cannot see what Rick Santorum may have to offer me if he becomes president. I’m not listening to him, and if he’s my candidate I’ll never know.

That he and other candidates are willing to spend precious time debating these issues shows that they will be addressed first if any of them reach the White House.

This is irresponsible.

Social issues can be dealt with when our nation has survived the current crisis. Creating jobs, getting children out of poverty, averting war, and stabilizing the economy are urgent needs that must be addressed immediately. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels stated in March of 2011 that a truce needs to be called on social issues so we can deal with the critically important issues at hand, as reported on the Wall Street Journal. I agree 100 percent.

Humans have a tendency to grab onto what we feel capable of dealing with rather than deal with what overwhelms us. Grabbing onto gay marriage as a hook for conservative voters is far easier than looking for and communicating solutions to the economic crisis.

Will we feel we are back in control if we end gay marriage? Will that get anybody a job?

During Saturday’s debate, Jon Huntsman explained his plan to recover part of the deficit by fixing a corrupt tax system. Romney, when asked to comment, diverted the question.

Huntsman spoke briefly on civil unions, and moved on. Others used valuable time arguing about gay rights rather than offering solutions for our most pressing problems.

I won’t deny my bias. I’m a Democrat, but I would consider voting for Jon Huntsman, because he has his priorities in the right place and prefers a cooperative congress over a divided one. Whatever Jon Huntsman’s private views on the social issues, he knows that his way is not the only way, and that government is complex. He is the only candidate I have observed being thoughtful and thorough about things that matter.

If we judge the candidates by the time and energy they give to a moral agenda instead of dealing with what’s urgent, then most of them need to shift priorities and shift them fast.

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