Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is on a crusade, and it is one that goes well beyond a Republican takeover of Congress come November. Sen. DeMint wants to make sure that gays and unwed pregnant women do not teach in public schools. The crux of DeMint’s argument is that there can be no separation of moral issues from economic issues, and to the extent that some in the Republican party try and separate the two they do so at the party’s peril.
For those who have paid attention to DeMint’s moral posturing in the past, these latest statements really come as no surprise. DeMint has made similar proclamations, like the time in 2004 when he endorsed his state party’s platform that said openly gay teachers should be barred from teaching in public school. For DeMint, the issue boils down to a government endorsement of “immorality.”
Senator DeMint is free to hold onto antiquated and bigoted beliefs in his personal life, but it is quite another thing for a U.S. Senator to openly advocate those positions as party platforms. What is also very disturbing about these latest ramblings is the fact that the Senator insists on wrapping them in constitutional protections found in the First Amendment. It’s not enough to call Sen. DeMint’s understanding of the First Amendment exercise and establishment clauses misguided. It’s simply wrong and a sitting U.S. Senator should, by virtue of his employment, have a fundamental understanding of the law.
Finally, given the nature of the economic challenges still facing this country, equating a moral position with economic policy illustrates just how unqualified DeMint is for his job. Yet, as we’ve seen throughout the primary cycle and his ability to practically grind Senate operations to a halt, DeMint holds a frightening amount of power in his party. There’s no reason to think that a Republican victory in November will do anything but embolden this kind of empty and useless rhetoric and further distract from the problem solving that needs to take place.
photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr