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Nov 26 2008

The future of the Republican Party-7: Why don’t the Christianists ♥ Huckabee?

Mike Huckabee, who saw himself as the real deal, is understandably peeved at the way he was treated by the very people who should have embraced his candidacy and been his most ardent supporters. A review of his just released memoir shows that he is willing to name names:

Many conservative Christian leaders — who never backed Huckabee, despite their holding similar stances on social issues — are spared neither the rod nor the lash. Huckabee writes of Gary Bauer, the conservative Christian leader and former presidential candidate, as having an “ever-changing reason to deny me his support.” Of one private meeting with Bauer, Huckabee says, “It was like playing Whac-a-Mole at the arcade — whatever issue I addressed, another one surfaced as a ‘problem’ that made my candidacy unacceptable.” He also accuses Bauer of putting national security before bedrock social issues like the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.
. . .
He calls out Pat Robertson, the Virginia-based televangelist, and Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University in South Carolina, for endorsing Rudy Giuliani and Romney, respectively. He also has words for the Texas-based Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed the more moderate John McCain in the primaries, as someone who was drawn to the eventual Republican nominee because of the lure of power. Huckabee says he spoke to Hagee by phone before the McCain endorsement while preparing for a spot on Saturday Night Live. “I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do,” Huckabee writes of the conversation. “I didn’t get a straight answer.”

I think Huckabee is justified in being angry at the way he was treated. But what was the problem? Why didn’t all these religious right heavyweights rally around Huckabee who had enthusiastically supported all the social issues of the culture wars that they have been agitating for all these years, and had proven himself in the Iowa caucuses as someone who had strong appeal with Republican voters?

In his memoir, Mike Huckabee takes a stab at trying to answer this question, and in the process reveals the real fight that is going on within the Republican party over its future. The above review of his book finds Huckabee pointing a finger at what he sees is the problem within the Republican party.

In a chapter titled “Faux-Cons: Worse than Liberalism,” Huckabee identifies what he calls the “real threat” to the Republican Party: “libertarianism masked as conservatism.” He is not so much concerned with the libertarian candidate Ron Paul’s Republican supporters as he is with a strain of mainstream fiscal-conservative thought that demands ideological purity, seeing any tax increase as apostasy and leaving little room for government-driven solutions to people’s problems. “I don’t take issue with what they believe, but the smugness with which they believe it,” writes Huckabee, who raised some taxes as governor and cut deals with his state’s Democratic legislature. “Faux-Cons aren’t interested in spirited or thoughtful debate, because such an endeavor requires accountability for the logical conclusion of their argument.” Among his targets is the Club for Growth, a group that tarred Huckabee as insufficiently conservative in the primaries and ran television ads with funding from one of Huckabee’s longtime Arkansas political foes, Jackson T. Stephens Jr.

But the Christianist opposition to Huckabee is based on more than just their anti-tax purity. It is also based on their opposition to any government intervention to aid those less fortunate.

Next: Compassionate religio-conservatism versus brutal religio-conservatism

POST SCRIPT: Money as an incentive

It is an article of faith amongst low tax advocates that money is what motivates people and by taxing people more, they have less incentive to work. Thus the huge bonuses paid to some executives on Wall Street and big corporations are justified on the grounds that this makes them work harder.

MIT business professor Dan Ariely examines this myth by offering low, medium, and high bonuses to people for comparable work and found that:

The people offered medium bonuses performed no better, or worse, than those offered low bonuses. But what was most interesting was that the group offered the biggest bonus did worse than the other two groups across all the tasks.

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