Mike Huckabee has come to represent how conservatism has come off the rails, and become reflexively (rather than thoughtfully) illiberal. This is unfortunate, because America needs a good dose of a thoughtful conservatism that is current. Huckabee’s reactionary agenda continues to include one-size-fits-all positions on abortion, immigration, and Israel, for example.
This is too bad, because what makes Huckabee worth the time to write about, and to think about, is his correct assessment that much of what bedevils American society is spiritual. Where he goes wrong, is to believe that this situation can be remedied by adopting policies– the ones he advocates– that are godly. This belief is worse than having the cart before the horse: “having the cart before the horse” is a simple confusion, clarified by reversing the order, whereas Huckabee’s mistake is confusing the kind of thing politics is, and the kind of thing religion is, in a 21st-century pluralistic democracy.
In the excerpt below, Huckabee trots out the tired memes of “government is bad” and “the Democratic party is godless.” While these memes play successfully to a certain audience and score points for his side, they do nothing to promote the healing of the social body, or to solve political problems. Huckabee’s deeper confusion is to think that politics is a suitable place for people of faith and parties of principle to express their faith and rectitude.
The authentic religious perspective for our time with regards to politics begins with a much larger dose of humility. Not timidity; not (moral) relativity– but a humility that recognizes the limits of any human– or group of humans– to possess the complete and final picture of what is good and true.
That’s the religion Huckabee ought to look toward, as his starting point.
Here is Huckabee in the immediate aftermath of the November election:
There is a lot to be disappointed by in the election results this evening and I am disappointed, but not despondent.
Tonight’s results only remind me that our country has slipped into a deeper state of dependence on government than I wanted to believe. Where the Goliath of government has grown so too has our dependency.
It’s also increasingly apparent to me that our real problems are not political, but spiritual. Both parties have failed to acknowledge that. Democrats have not wanted to even acknowledge the need for God in our public institutions, but sadly, many of the Republican leadership will acknowledge God, but not because they believe we should be humble before Him, but to use God in our speeches and platforms. We wear our love of Israel like a badge of courage but on the issues of life and marriage too many of our leaders are more like lambs than Lions of Judah.
Well now maybe our Republican Party will look at itself in the mirror. I feel that we shouldn’t pack up and quit, but gear up and get ready for the next battle. That’s what we do as people of faith and a party of principle. We don’t stop believing what we believe. We do a better job of doing what we’re supposed to do. That’s how you attract voters and win elections. And that is how you save America from herself.