The great libertarian dream of entering the GOP in a Trojan horse Rand Paul built by hand is over. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee are on to us and they are putting their gouty feet down. “Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) tells Politico. “If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party….We’re not the Libertarian Party, we’re the Republican Party.”

Both Santorum and Huckabee (who is far less interesting in Politico’s piece, aside from a joke about McCain and Romney failing to “just light ’em up at the National Right to Life Convention”) seem to think the real reason the GOP lost two presidential elections in a row is because its candidates did not talk enough about the horrors of abortion and men kissing each other on the mouth. Sayeth Santorum: “If we had candidates in the last two presidential elections who weren’t ashamed of the positions they had on these issues and played offense, instead of listening to the same people who now want to abandon the issues, we would’ve been successful.” 

What Santorum doesn’t say, but Politico’s other interviewees do, is that social conservatives don’t find the small government message very convincing:

“If we gave our voters an accurate portrayal of our ideas, that we want to cut the rate of growth on Social Security, give tax cuts to billionaires and then the values issues, the values issues would be more popular than the economic agenda of the current Republican Party,” said Gary Bauer, citing particularly those Mass-attending Roman Catholics who have fled the Democrats.

Bauer added, “I would caution the donor wing of the Republican Party that is driving a lot of this: If they think social conservatives are the only thing preventing Republicans from winning, they’ll learn that their economic agenda will go down the tubes along with the Republican Party’s prospects.”

Despite evidence that young voters are cool with men saying “I do!” to other men, and then kissing those men long and hard, Santorum is hopeful they will eventually discover the error of their ways. “I think we’ll see the pendulum swing back once young conservatives see the real consequences to the destruction of marriage.” 

On another front in the war over the GOP’s soul, podcasting Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol says it doesn’t matter what young people think about marriage, or anything else for that matter. From Mediaite

Noting that the Republican “establishment” (not including himself, of course) looks like a herd “running to catch up with the trends” because “some polls show [same-sex marriage] is now 58% popular and five years ago it was only 43% popular” (yes, that’s called an upward trend), Kristol lamented how some of the party’s leaders believe it necessary to take on the “fashionable” position of being okay with gay marriage.

“Not only will those earn the contempt of people who believe in defending traditional marriage,” he said, but they won’t even get credit for hopping onto the bandwagon.

“This kind of pathetic attempt to say, ‘Oh, my God! Young people especially are liberal so let’s just rush to cater to them,’ as if they’re going to respect you if you just embrace the views of some 26-year-old who doesn’t know anything honestly.”

A winning strategy, for sure.