Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why the Republican Establishment Can't Stand Huckabee

I had a 12 hour drive the other day through the Midwest and so about the only thing on AM radio was conservative talk radio. I can't say that it's my favorite programming but Rush Limbaugh was on so I decided to listen in for a while. The whole time I was listening Rush was attacking Iowa's Republican caucus winner Mike Huckabee and the idea of populism in general. From what I could tell Rush didn't seem to like Huckabee because he wasn't a "true conservative", and if you pay attention you'll hear this a lot from the Republican establishment.

Like I said, I had some free time, so I decided to think about the current crop of Republican candidates and why the establishment seems to view Huckabee with nothing but contempt. First things first, it definitely can't be because he's not conservative enough; I mean this is a field with Giuliani, Romney and McCain. But then I started to think about the philosophy behind conservatism and it hit me. The establishment doesn't like him because he threatens the status quo and will expose the "conservative" ideology for the farce that it is. Stay with me here.

For decades the elitist Wall Street conservatives have dominated the Republican party. They've been able to gain power by convincing social conservatives that their interests are aligned with the interests of the business elite. These elitists have used the social conservatives to further their financial agenda while paying lip service to social issues and fiscal conservatism. Social conservatives have been the machine behind the grassroots movement within the Republican party as they are the ones making phone calls, organizing rallies, stuffing envelopes, etc.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, social conservatives continued to vote Republican because the alternative was to support more socially liberal candidates. Regardless of how bad the fiscal and foreign policies became they continued to support the party. But all that changes with Huckabee - he's one of them. And he's telling them things they've known deep down for some time but just didn't dare express. He's telling them how "free market" and "free trade" policies aren't always the answer. He's telling them that our health care system is a disaster and getting worse.

His populist rhetoric is working and it scares the hell out of the establishment. Because once social conservatives realize they have been bamboozled by the current crop of elitist conservative cronies, they will seize their party leadership and begin to promote policies actually strengthen working class Americans. And where will the elite Wall Street robber barons go then? They are no longer welcome in the Democratic Party - I suppose their only hope would be a Hillary victory. Just watch how this debate shapes up, the elitists will decry populism as a divisive political ploy that pushes class warfare to further a political agenda. But what they won't tell you is that is exactly what they have been doing to social conservatives for decades.

And if all this sounds familiar it's because we're watching the same thing happen here in the Allen County Republican Party. Matt Kelty was an outsider that threatened the entrenched interests within the party. Instead of simply using the average Republican voter he vowed to give them a voice. He brought new people into the party and fought like hell to change the status quo. Now Kelty had his flaws (we all do) and ultimately they were his undoing but his message of change was powerful and it scared some people in his own party.

Now Huckabee is no Kelty as he's a seasoned politician who has been through the ringer a time or two. Some seem to be writing his Iowa victory off as anomaly but I'm not so sure. The populist wave is rising, even within the Republican Party, and those that choose not to ride it will likely be crushed...


Anonymous said...

I don't see Huckabee winning the nomination but he would definitely be an attractive running mate simply because he will be able to make sure that many social conservatives continue to vote Republican.

Basically the Republicans would want to use him to make sure they maintain their evengelical voting block.

Andrew Kaduk said...

"Social Conservative" is a ridiculous euphemism.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Perhaps but I'm just using the parlance of our times...

scott spaulding said...

Is your last name Pruitt or Lebowski?

dan said...

My view is you may have hit on something here. The fact that the conservative Repubs are not embracing him makes one wonder. They could adopt the view that this is their chance to win the nomination, but they are acting threatened. Who says religion is not a factor? Maybe they're willing to cast the dice with a Mormon, but they have problems with Romney also. This adds more credence to your premise.

A good test would be Indiana. I see the Ron Paul petitioners have been out in force the past few weeks. They must have enough signatures by now and want to be the first to turn them in. I wonder if the Huckabee supporters are out there doing the same. Depending on how the other primaries go, Indiana could be interesting yet.

A good test

Andrew Kaduk said...

C'mon, Jeff. That's not the "parlance of our times," it's a cuddly way of glazing over the truth so it fits neatly into the first seven minutes of news. Let's turn to Wiki for some much needed perspective here.

Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and social interests subordinate to the interests of the state or party. Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, racial, religious attributes.

Let's hit the high points, just for the stupid people in the audience:

-Everyone needs to read the Bible.
-God's laws are OUR laws
-Muslims are evil
-Send the Mexicans home
-Homosexuality is a sin against God and should be punished, not rewarded.

Gee, that "Social Conservatism" BS sure sounds a LOT like fascism...

Sorry, with all due screwing to the "parlance of our times," I'd rather call a spade, a spade.

Craig said...

While Mr. Kaduk offers a fine working definitiono of "fascism" it is worth noting that a definition for this term can be quite hard to nail down.

When one considers one of the more prominent (and destructive) fascist parties in history, the German National Sociailsts, it is soon discovered that fascism could be viewed as a reaction to traditional Christianity and Judaism. In the case of the Nazis there was little room for the ancient words of God. The supreme law was that of the state, and particularly their fuhrer. One man, one nation, one people. That was Nazism.

Therefore, one could view fascism as a rejection of Christian and Jewish ideals that say the law of God is superior to those men. The aims of the fascist states were to establish a religion of men, not gods.

Andrew Kaduk said...

I have read several opinions from historians that actually discount the idea that the Third Reich was a fascist regime, but got lumped into the category because of the whole religious persecution thing...

Jeff Pruitt said...

You can find a book at our own ACPL entitled “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” by Benito Mussolini. The book said it was a copy of a letter he wrote to a newspaper in the 30s describing the philosophy and ideology of fascism. They also claimed it’s the only time Mussolini ever published anything about the history and/or foundation of Fascism.

I think if you read this you'll come to the conclusion I did - namely that it never was a cohesive ideology which is probably why it's easily manipulated into whatever one wants it to be.

Slightly off-topic but funny; compare these quotes from Mussolini and Guiliani:

“The Fascist state organizes the nation but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the state alone”

And now Rudy:
“What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”

Robert Enders said...

I like Huckabee even less than the "Republican establishment". Actually, for a long time there were people who voted Republican because they wanted their taxes cut, and there were others who voted Republican because they didn't like people who were different from them. These two factions were bound to clash sooner or later. Bigotry simply doesn't make economic sense.

Some business people will deal with any party willing to grant them corporate welfare. Others just want a level playing field. The former will just start writing campaign contribution checks and buy themselves a bunch of Congressmen. The latter will defect over to the Libertarian Party.

Craig said...

Yeah, Rudy sucks

Andrew Kaduk said...


That is a drool-inducing similarity in philosophical foundation. Yuck.

I am in total agreement with respect to your (and Craig's) general assertion that fascism has never been a cohesive ideology, whereby leaving an objective, solid definition somewhere in a mucky gray area.

However, any philosophy that arbitrarily bestows rights upon groups of people and arbitrarily denies rights to others (normally based on irrationally subjective criteria) is displaying a modus operandi parallel with that of fascism.

Back on topic:

As long as Republicans continue to try to milk both cows, the greedy big businesses and the holy rollers, there will be an ugly ulcer within the party. The issue I have, is simply one of philosophical conflict. I don't particularly like EITHER group of idiots. Big business has turned government into a pawn by which it can quash competition and elevate its own value. This = extra cruddy. Holy rollers are trying to hijack government in the name of "god" to assimilate unlike entities to their own way of thinking and living. This ALSO = extra cruddy. My distaste for this sickening circus is only overshadowed, and therefore trumped by my inability and unwillingness to actually want to suckle at the tits of the government, which is generally what is offered by the donkeys.

I need a drink.