But perhaps an even better point of comparison for Hawley is Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania who was once described by a member of his own staff as “a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.” Hawley is not a Catholic, though he is emerging as the Senate’s most vocal and consistent champion of the liberty of the Church. But like Santorum, whose populist views on trade, immigration, and entitlements alienated him from his party during his tenure in the House and the Senate, Hawley has managed to sneak his way into the so-called “fourth quadrant” of American politics, the place where people have views that could be described as socially conservative and economically moderate to progressive.
This has long been the undiscovered country in American politics. It is also what a majority of us actually believe. Standing up for it will not necessarily make you a popular person in Washington, D.C. Santorum was widely disliked by his fellow senators, Republican and Democrat alike. This might have had a lot to do with his own cantankerous personality, but being on good terms with both parties when you don’t fully agree with either is a tall order even for a gregarious politician like Lincoln Chafee, who also managed to alienate many colleagues on both sides of the aisle during his Senate career.
Which is why what makes the most sense for Hawley and politicians like him is bipartisanship — not in the Joe Lieberman sense of joining Democrats and Republicans in support of the handful of mostly idiotic ideas about which both sides agree, but rather selectively making alliances with either party depending upon the issue in question.