Is Mike Huckabee carrying out a “scorched earth” campaign where he doesn’t care if he destroys the party and splits the conservative movement into its base component parts?
“Many of us who have been Republicans out of conviction . . . the social conservatives,” he told reporters, “were welcomed in the party as long as we sort of kept our place, but Lord help us if we ever stood forward and said we would actually like to lead the party.”
Huckabee continues to use his faith as a weapon against those who question not his faith, but his political populism â€” much of which he shares with secular progressives. And he is clearly hoping to stir up resentment among Evangelical Christians against the other elements of the conservative movement and Republican Party as a way of encouraging them to vote in the caucuses and primaries. This is a tactic right out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook. Of course he wants us to believe the Reagan coalition is dead because he cannot win with it intact. But he cannot win either the nomination or presidency with the narrow focus of his appeal. This is why I find Mike Huckabee’s tactics and candidacy so deplorable.
For myself, I could care less if the evangelical social cons threw a tantrum and walked out of the party and the movement. They have always been willing to fall on their swords and lose elections rather than compromise so what’s the big deal? Less political baggage in my book. And with them gone, I trust that many former Republicans as well as libertarians would feel a lot more comfortable about casting their lot with a small government, fiscally conservative party.
If they want to promote a candidate whose ideas about a nanny state include a “Christian government” watching over us as opposed to a secular one, let them try that out on the electorate. Just do it from the obscurity of a third party rather than the floor of the GOP national convention in September.
I have made my feelings known about Huckabee on this blog. I believe him to be a shady operator who, as Levin points out, uses religion as a club against his opponents while setting himself up to be a “superior Christian” to the other candidates. The mindless enthusiasm for this “populist” only shows that the religious right is not ready or worthy to lead any party that purports to represent a polyglot collection of neocons, Main Street, Traditional, and economic conservatives.
I know that many social cons do not support Huckabee and are supporting other candidates who also espouse socially conservative positions. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Those other candidates are not using their religion as a wedge issue in order to maximize their support among one faction or another in the conservative movement. Huckabee, on the other hand, sees his only chance at success in breaking the party and the movement by throwing his weight around as a “Christian leader” while feeding the resentment and paranoia of some evangelicals who think opposition to his candidacy is the result of his religion.
Huckabee will be taken down eventually. There is no way 50% of the party will ever support his candidacy. But the damage he can do between now and then may be irreparable by cracking once and for all the conservative coalition - already under enormous pressure - and destroying any hopes for a GOP victory next November.