I often try to avoid conversations here that are overtly political in nature (particularly those that consider our horribly broken two-party system), but last night's Iowa caucus results were honestly fascinating, in a completely head-shaking sort of way.
Over the past several weeks, as candidate after candidate essentially disqualified themselves from the race for the Republican nomination--first Cain, then Perry, then Bachmann--the once wide-open race quickly devolved into a dearth of options for most voters. We were essentially left with Mitt Romney (whom nobody seems to want), Ron Paul (whom nobody seems to understand), Newt Gingrich (whom nobody seems to trust), and Jon Huntsman (whom nobody seems to have heard of).
So what was the uninspired caucus voter to do? Vote none of the above, of course!
Um, I mean... vote Rick Santorum, I guess. What's now being referred to as the "Santorum Surge"--which honestly sounds vaguely vulgar--really seems to have been the exact opposite. A vote for Santorum was, in many cases, a vote against the remaining candidates, most specifically Mitt Romney.
To date, Santorum hasn't really done anything to engender genuine support from anyone, he just hasn't done anything obvious to torpedo his candidacy--yet. While all the rest of the candidates were busy blowing themselves up, nobody was paying any attention to the guy, and that probably worked to his benefit. Given his history, I'm willing to bet that he eventually implodes under scrutiny, as he has in the past.
Sure, maybe I'm a bit biased as a Boston native (Santorum has made some horribly inflammatory comments about my hometown in the past), but I don't think it's an accident that this guy has been a complete ghost in the political realm ever since getting trounced in record fashion in his 2006 re-election bid in Pennsylvania. Given enough time, Santorum will show his true colors (picture an inflammatory Dan Quayle) and fade from the race, but for now he's somewhat magically become the "None of the Above" candidate. And for now, that seems to be good enough.