The faculty senate have already begun hinting that I may have to cover the Republican National Convention this year. “It’s near the main campus in South Blogistan,” one of them said. “You won’t even have to fly.”

I guess that’s better than having to fly somewhere to listen to inedible nuts. But not by much.

Take Rick Santorum, for example. Far, far away. Please.

When he’s not complaining contraception, women in the military, marriage equality, young people going to college, or pornographyhe’s saying things like this:

We need a candidate who’s going to be a fighter for freedom. Who’s going to get up and make that the central theme in this race because it is the central theme in this race. I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.

You read that right. Rick Santorum said he doesn’t care about unemployment. Instead, he says, he’ll be “a fighter for freedom.”

He later said he wasn’t using a teleprompter and seemed to back away, sort of:

Of course I care about the unemployment rate. I want the unemployment rate to go down, but I’m saying, my candidacy doesn’t hinge on whether the unemployment rate goes up and down. Our candidacy’s about something that transcends that; its about freedom, its not about, you know, Governor Romney’s idea that he’s going to fix the economy which is something that, of course, we as Republicans don’t believe that presidents fix the economy; we believe that we try to do things to create an atmosphere for the economy to fix itself.

Well that makes it all better. Not.

I promised Mrs. Squirrel I wouldn’t embed or even listen to Janis Joplin singing “Me and Bobby McGee.” Mrs. Squirrel said if she hears that song even once, it’s stuck in her head all day. Besides, the song isn’t a political treatise and freedom isn’t really “just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Except that’s exactly what freedom seems to be for Rick Santorum. Can’t find a job. Can’t afford to both buy groceries and take a sick child to the doctor? Losing your home?

Well … you’re on your own. But look at the bright side. You’re free!

This is the core difference between the two parties, as First Lady Michelle Obama said last week in Minnesota. The Republican idea of “freedom” means “you’re on your own.” That’s nice if you’re wealthy and can afford for things to go wrong. But if, like most Americans, you’re one serious injury or illness, one layoff, or one big repair bill away from dire straits … then “you’re on your own” sounds less like “freedom” and more like “F-you.”

Democrats don’t accept that. Democrats recognize that “freedom” includes being able to go to the doctor if you or someone in your family gets ill or injured. “Freedom” includes not having to choose between groceries, the electric bill, and the rent or mortgage. “Freedom” includes not worrying if the food you buy is tainted, or the water coming out of your tap is toxic.

“You’re on your own” will not secure those freedoms for most Americans. To secure those freedoms, most Americans need “we’re all in this together.” That includes the freedom to speak about our grievances to our government, and the right to vote for elected officials who will listen when we speak.

That’s not “socialism.” That is the essence of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” words spoken by a president who really was “a fighter for freedom.”

Good day and good nuts.