Huckabee’s “hope” is a “nope”

Here’s an op-ed I published in my school’s newspaper yesterday.

It all began in a place called Hope.

No, I’m not referring to that classic line by a certain incorrigible former president; rather, a guy who really wants Clinton’s old gig.

Mike Huckabee was born and raised in the same small burg – Hope, Arkansas – as our beloved William Jefferson Clinton, albeit after Bill left town. Like the former President, Mike’s got that Arkansas drawl, an innate charm and a rapier wit. The similarities don’t end there. Huckabee also shares with Democrats his views on the economy and some social issues.

In fact, the only way I can tell Huck is a Republican is the (R) behind his name. His lip service to less government spending and lower taxes belie his actual Arkansas gubernatorial history. What’s worse, he openly champions the populism that is now in vogue in American politics. It’s the Mike Huckabee and John Edwards duet: everyone gets something for nothing.

If Huck doesn’t support Republican values like limited government and fiscal responsibility, why is he so popular? The answer is simple: Huckabee’s down-home attitude combined with his ministerial background attracts wandering Christian evangelicals. Brought into the G.O.P. coalition by Reagan, these political nomads want to further their Christian beliefs through big government and bloated social programs. I call them liberals who found Jesus. They don’t like the direction in which the G.O.P. is going, but they can’t go Democratic because of abortion and religious issues. Instead, they stay Republican, hoping to influence the Party with a religious ardor sometimes bordering on fanaticism. So far, sadly, it has worked. The Iowa caucuses were a perfect example.

While other Republican candidates forsake this religious zealotry, instead invoking the divine supply-side economics of Saint Reagan, Huck goes a different route. He’s received F’s from the Cato Institute due to his taxing and spending policies while governor. Conservative group Judicial Watch ranked him among the 10 most corrupt American politicians of 2007. Most disturbingly, however, is his oft-proclaimed desire to "take this nation back for Christ."

Don’t misunderstand, I’m Catholic and don’t begrudge Huckabee his religious views. He has as much freedom to invoke Jesus as other politicians. However, while religion may be used as a guide for policy, it shouldn’t be used as a strict blueprint. The Reagan-era coalition is splitting and we must actively choose between evangelical Christianity, embodied by Huckabee, and the fiscal conservatism represented by Romney and McCain. Essentially, the nominee for 2008 will set the tone of the party’s policy for decades to come. Our nominee will be a symbol for the political path we want to travel. If we choose Huckabee, that path can only be fraught with bigger government and evangelical Christian nanny-state policies.

I’m not officially endorsing anyone at this point. I am, however, un-endorsing Huckabee. A vote for Huck is a vote for more of the same; higher taxes, ineffectual social policies, and a general populist class warfare malaise.

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