Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

    I heart Huckabee: A candidate to remember

    Mike Huckabee. Inspirational. Evangelical Minister. Full of one-liners. His emergence as the last remaining Republican not named John McCain surprised everyone. Although winning the Iowa caucus didn’t catapult him to the Republican nomination, his candidacy makes this liberal columnist still proud of American politics.

    His values and beliefs don’t reflect those of the majority of Americans, certainly not those of us at Whitman, but we should respect his candidacy even when it doesn’t make sense to continue it. McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, even told the press that Huckabee “would need to win 123 percent of remaining delegates” to clinch the nomination. Too bad Mike Huckabee says he “majored in miracles” instead of math. When asked about the futility of his campaign, Huckabee responded that Americans wanted an election, not a coronation. Essentially, Huckabee wants to and will continue to campaign until the Republican Convention this summer. He’s fearlessly determined.

    Christian evangelicals occupy a tenuous place in American politics. Largely apolitical since the 1920s, they reemerged as political force after Roe v. Wade and rallied to the Republican Party. With leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, southern evangelicals voted pro-life, pro-prayer in schools and pro-Republican. However, their support hasn’t translated into concrete political gains. Aside from appointing judges who are more likely to be pro-corporate than pro-life, or promoting abstinence in foreign aid education programs, the Republican Party has not, in large, enacted the southern evangelical agenda. The Republican Party has consistently refused to act on the issues that are most important to its evangelical base.

    President Bush pays lip service to the need to protect the so-called “culture of life” but after his re-election in 2004, the first issue he campaigned for was social security reform, not intelligent design and especially not banning abortion. Feeling used and betrayed by the Republican Party, evangelicals have begun to withdraw some of their fervent support.

    Enter Mike Huckabee, the perfect Christian evangelical candidate. During debates, he’d quote scripture in his answers and during speeches he’d talk openly about the need for God to be infused into American life. While this is anathema to me, and to many Americans, it takes political guts to talk so openly about something so controversial.

    Last December, before the Iowa caucus, Huckabee ran an ad with him in front of a Christmas tree telling Iowa voters to enjoy Christmas with their families. Although the ad seemed uncontroversial, the media quickly noticed a gigantic white outline of a cross behind Huckabee as he spoke during the ad. The media covered this for days, gaining Huckabee free air time and letting practically everyone know that he was a devoted evangelical.

    Contrast this with Hillary Clinton’s ad in Iowa before Christmas: 30 seconds of Hillary Clinton labeling presents that represent issues such as healthcare. That ad tells us nothing about who Hillary is as a person, except that she wants universal healthcare. Huckabee told voters who he was, not what his issues checklist would be.

    American presidential politics can be very depressing. There are establishment candidates such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain who run the campaign assuming they’ve already got the nomination locked up. Hillary’s about to lose for this arrogant assumption and McCain reinvented his whole campaign last summer to avoid dropping out of the race. Then, there are candidates who run as Washington outsiders but talk, act and look like Washington insiders. Here’s looking at you, Mitt. You too, Rudy. Then there are true Washington outsiders like Mike Huckabee, the openly devout Christian, and to a lesser extent Barack Obama.

    Fortunately, Mike Huckabee will never be president and Barack Obama will. Unfortunately, America will forget Mike Huckabee after the primary campaign is officially over. We remember winners, not losers. Do the names Paul Tsongas, Gary Hart, Bill Bradley ring a bell?

    I hope we remember Mike Huckabee. National Republican leaders have been pressuring him to drop out of the race and run for Arkansas’ senate against first term Democrat Mark Pryor. Polls show Huckabee is the only prospective Republican nominee to win that seat because he’s a former governor of the state.

    Huckabee said no. He’d rather spend his time and money criss-crossing the country trailing John McCain on the roads and in the polls getting out his message.

    While Mike Huckabee doesn’t believe in evolution, he does believe in authenticity and determination. Those are two values that candidates often sacrifice at the altar of polling and political gain. Huckabee knows he won’t win, but winning isn’t all that matters. What matters to Mike Huckabee is telling as many Americans what he believes and what needs to be done in America. We should respect and remember that.

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