Thanks to an entry on the evangelical outpost I’m beginning to understand the phenomenal appeal of one Mike Huckabee.
The post doesn’t address the Huckabee phenomenon per se; it’s a refutation of the commentariat’s conventional wisdom that the Republican base is made up of three separate, non-overlapping groups: social conservatives, economic conservatives, and defense conservatives.
Joe Carter, the evangelical in the evangelical outpost, makes the argument that these groups overlap quite a bit, and that, more often than not, a person who votes Republican is conservative in all three areas and equally passionate about all three. This “full-spectrum conservative,” as he calls it, is the real backbone of the Republican party.
I don’t dispute that at all; it’s pretty much right on the money. But agreement makes for boring blog posts, so let’s not dwell on that. What grabbed me were some of Carter’s defenses of Mike Huckabee as the real full-spectrum conservative in the race.
A prime example of how “economic conservatives” are out of touch with the Reagan conservatives is the issue of executive compensation for poorly managed companies. On CNBC Governor Mike Huckabee expressed his disgust for corporate boards that award CEOs with $200 million bonuses while the workers are taking 40% pay cuts. As the Governor made clear he didn’t think the federal government should take action. His only point was merely that as a conservative he would use the bully pulpit to speak out against such outrageous behavior.
I think that one thing you have to assume about political candidates is that if that say something is disgusting, they’re liable to do something about it. If you’re not going to judge what a president will do based on what he says, then stop making me listen to those flippin’ state of the union addresses every year. And if a politician tries–or threatens–to mess with how people get paid in the private sector, you can no longer call that politician conservative. The fact that Carter denies this (and not only denies it, but later expresses shock that Glenn Reynolds called Huckabee’s statement “populist”) makes me think that Huckabee supporters might be trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.
So, I’m starting to think that conservative Christian support for Huckabee is based on something other than the issues.
Remember The Passion of the Christ, that movie about Jesus that caused such a ruckus a couple of years ago? If you recall, people got really worked up about it, both in good ways and bad. This was odd behavior, because it wasn’t the first movie based on the Bible story of Jesus, and I don’t think The Greatest Story Ever Told or Jesus Christ, Superstar had people running and screaming in the streets months before it was released.
What was different about The Passion was that it was made by somebody who took the story seriously. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, he genuinely believed in the transformative power of the story of Christ in a way that you never see in Hollywood. That made believers rally to him, and it made non-believers terrified of him.
I think evangelicals rally to Huckabee for the same reason. He speaks with authority and genuine conviction about the things that Christians care about the most. So, they will let a lot of stuff slide in order to support a guy who shares their beliefs. Heck, I want to root for the guy, and I’m as terrified of him actually winning the presidency as I am of anybody save John Edwards. Because, Christianity aside, he really is a populist.
Update: Holy crap, this got an Instapundit link. Well, thank you very much.