By: Brian Sikma
On January 3rd Governor Mike Huckabee shocked the Republican establishment by winning the Iowa Caucuses by a very strong margin. Outspent and outgunned on air time and party favoritism, Huckabee nevertheless proved he can connect with the one group that matters: the voters.
For several months I have considered openly tossing my hat into the ring in support of the second man from Hope, Arkansas. To date, my support has been limited to private e-mails and vigorous discussions with friends and fellow politicos.
I had the chance to meet Governor Huckabee in August of 2007 at the Mid-West Republican Leadership Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Governor Huckabee was the one candidate that was able to really inspire those supporting him. Even members of the press were impressed with the way this down-to-earth candidate treated each of them with importance (this was especially meaningful for those of us in the “new media” of blogging).
My reservations about Governor Huckabee stem from his positions on foreign policy and fiscal policy. It has been said that the Reagan coalition of Republicans consists of three “legs” on a stool. One leg is the fiscal conservatives, another leg is the foreign policy conservatives, and yet another leg is the social conservatives. I consider myself a member of each “leg” though I must say I detest the analogy to a stool. We need to drop any reference to the stool and start talking about things that matter. People don’t care about stools and legs, they care about results and they want a party and a candidate who is smart and yet not so smart he actually believes those Beltway individuals who hold themselves out at as the repositories of all knowledge.
Being a conservative means you are well rounded and are a fiscal, social and defense conservative. The three are not at odds with each other and many Americans, when the positions are explained to them, will probably nod their head and say “Oh yes, I believe that.”
Below are some thoughts that I’ve had about Gov. Huckabee and I hope they help you reach a better understanding of this man who is too often shrugged off as not serious and unable to be President of the United States.
In response to concerns over Govenor Huckabee’s statement that we need to abandon left versus right horizontal politics and instead look at politics from the vertical view of up or down:
The comment about going straight up is awesome. It’s exactly what the American people need to hear. We’re not in a debate here with a bunch of intellectual wise-men who define things in terms alien to many Americans. People don’t care whether a particular policy is left or right. They care about whether or not it makes their lives better and advances the principles they care about. Conservatism, properly understood, helps people and takes them up. Liberalism dooms people to forever staying in the class they are in or, worse, forces them to descend to a lower plain.
In response to the charge that he is weak on foreign policy:
My primary concern with Governor Huckabee’s foreign policy ideas stems from a comment that he made in his 5,000 plus word article in Foreign Affairs. Unlike some, I have actually read the article and was left wondering what some of the other Republican candidates and establishment wise-men are all worried about. Sure, there was that statement about more humanitarian aid to Pakistan that didn’t quite sound good or make a lot of sense, but beyond that I think that Gov. Huckabee is better than George W. Bush was when he first entered the White House.
Even to this day the White House is mysteriously silent on the war on terror when it should be out there explaining to people what is going on and where and why we are achieving success in some areas. Our foreign policy must be hard on our enemies (and I’ve been impressed with Governor Huckabee’s ability to convey the seriousness of the Global War on Terror) but also one that reaches out to people’s yearnings to be free and shows them that freedom works.
On Gov. Huckabee’s statement on the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto:
Pakistan is unstable right now and how we handle that situation is very important. Gov. Huckabee’s press release on the death of Bhutto was pretty bad. He talked about praying for Pakistan but failed to capitalize on a tremendous opportunity to show his foreign policy strength alluded to in his Foreign Affairs article.
In response to the charge that his a fiscal liberal and an intellectual light weight:
On spending he’s still sounding like a big spender, but he did have a very Democratic legislature that he had to deal with. Of all the candidates running he is the most qualified to work with a semi-hostile to hostile Congress. This is important since it is not likely that we will recapture the House this fall.
Here’s an interesting idea: Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative. Mike Huckabee did spend money, but it was on roads (a legitimate expenditure) and perhaps a few other projects but he always balanced the budget and Arkansas was left with a surplus when he left office. That’s not fiscally irresponsible. Ronald Reagan left the national deficit higher than it ever was when he left office and today conservatives lionize him. Some in the Reagan administration tried to have the President raise taxes in order to balance the budget, Reagan wouldn’t do it and he let the spending mount up.
Regarding his weight-loss story:
The story of losing all that weight is utterly uninspiring to me. It is simple, folksy, and in my opinion, is about an issue that is very import to people but doesn’t really apply to me and I couldn’t care much less about it because I’m more interested in hard policy. However, this story resonates with the folks at Wal-mart. I shop at Wal-mart too, but there are a lot of Wal-mart voters that are fed up with country club Republicans and this guy can win their vote.
Footnote: I have several times made mention of “wise-men” and intellectuals, I am not against intelligent and informed individuals. Quite to the contrary, I think we need to elevate the national debate to a more intellectual level, yet there are some individuals who are so wrapped up in being “smart” they forget common sense. This is true on both sides of the aisle and a truly intellectual individual will not hesitate to put aside the presuppositions of his class and pursue the policy that leads to real intellectual wisdom.