Excuse the forthrightness, if it offends, with which I express my explicit opposition to Mike Huckabee. I see in “the Huck,” though, an exemplification of what precisely is wrong with the Republican Party and why it has struggled to offer anything distinct from the socialism of the Democratic Party. It is often said that the GOP is “Democrat light” these days, but with GOP stars like Huckabee, one has difficultly in seeing what is so “light” about them.
Huckabee is a perfect target for the present diatribe for the very reason that he is so attractive to the mainstream evangelical Christian. The evangelical world, as most of my readers are more than aware, has fallen into the political trap during the latter half of the 20th century –this political trap is characterized by the all too cozy relationship between the Church (more precisely, the parachurch) and political power. It has fallen for the alluring rhetoric of the “moral majority” which has been successful, not in contributing to the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven, but of creating a voter-bloc that the State can always rely on to support its largest –and most troubling –efforts toward continual and systemic expansionism. The evangelical world, through its fascination with the clever marketing of the political right dressed up with religious cloaks and even biblical language (most especially the theme of “good vs. evil”), has been a key player in the neoconservative takeover in the GOP and the rise of US imperialism in the Middle East, in Africa, and in other places as well. In short, it is by refusing to apply the standards of limited government and private property to GOP’s leaders, that the GOP was allowed to get away with its false self-presentation as the party of limited, constitutional government.
With Mike Huckabee in the running, I expect the trend to continue.
Mike Huckabee is a pastor-turned-politician. As such, his fans and followers have it in their mind that he is the quintessential Christian statesmen. Whether this is true depends on what, exactly, is to be meant by the phrase “Christian statesmen.”
Let us first make several observations about the type of leader a Christian, with a solid political theory, should endorse. First, a politician is not to be endorsed or dismissed on his religious beliefs alone. As he is pursuing a public office, which office is distinct from any position that might be held in the Church, his religious doctrinal beliefs do not make or break the politician. It seems that too many Christians in our time forget this. Why would we vote for an anti-liberty “Christian?” It is true that one’s Christian beliefs are among the most important aspects of a Pastoral candidate; but the individual who runs for public office must have the correct “political doctrine.” After all, there is a distinction between the role of the civil government and the role and duties of the Church. So then, the rallying cry “we need a Christian president” falls short of the full analysis of the candidate’s political theory.
We must ask how well the candidate adheres to fiscal prudence, how well he recognizes the tremendous evil hoisted upon the economy by the Federal Reserve, whether he considers private property as more important than the dangerous shenanigans of the State, whether he is aware of the shocking damages passed along to students via the means of public education, whether he opposes, as he ought, government intervention into the market by favoring some businesses and industries at the expense of others. We must go even further and consider how the candidate has reacted in the past to immoral and unconstitutional imperial war-efforts taken up by the Federal Government, what his thoughts are on the fascist wars on drugs, privacy, and free travel. We must compare the actions of the Huck to his rhetoric. And on all these things, he has failed monumentally in the past.
Mike Huckabee’s record as Governor of Arkansas consisted of massive increases in State spending, so much so that the Cato Institute gave his record in office an ‘F.’ Huckabee increased public expenditures by over 65% during his two terms, which, impressively, was three times the rate of inflation. As the Cato Institute reported:
“The number of government workers increased by 20 percent, and the state’s debt services increased by nearly $1 billion. Huckabee financed his spending binge with higher taxes. Under his leadership, the average Arkansan’s tax burden increased 47 percent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, including increases in the state’s gas, sales, income, and cigarette taxes. He raised taxes on everything from groceries to nursing home beds.”
“Huckabee answers these complaints by pointing out that he “cut taxes 94 times” while governor. True. But most of those tax cuts were tiny, like exempting residential lawn care from the sales tax. Some cuts reduced overall state revenues by as little as $15,000. On net, Huckabee increased state taxes by more than $500 million. In fact, Huckabee increased taxes in the state by more than Bill Clinton did.”
The above Cato report went on to say:
But Huckabee doesn’t just embrace big government in the form of big taxes. He truly appears to believe that if something is a good idea it should be a federal government program.”
“For example, having become health conscious while losing more than 120 pounds (a remarkable feat), he now calls for a national smoking ban. Because he believes that “art and music are as important as math and science” in public schools, he wants these programs funded — and thus, directed and administered — federally.”
Mike Huckabee’s desire for Federal Government expansionism has led him to back Federally funded infrastructure efforts (this is quickly becoming a theme of the socialist left –the alleged need for the nationalization of infrastructure, a frightening socialist proposal), health care interventionism, public school subsidies and nationalized standards, energy and ethanol subsidies, and (as any good GOPer), agriculture subsidies. It appears to be the case that Huckabee wants the Federal Government to manage the entire economy from Washington DC!
Huckabee has taken up leftist rhetoric to oppose high corporate profits and consistently attacks international free trade. Calling himself a nationalist on the trade issue, Huckabee’s mercantilist trade mindset leads him to be wary to increasing trade between the United States and other nations, unless they are managed by a Federal bureaucracy. In other words, Huckabee stands opposed to capitalism and the free market.
Huckabee has fallen hard for the pro war narrative of the Establishment since the event of 9/11. He has backed every ill-conceived invasion of a foreign land, every attempt by the Federal government to sneak around the fourth amendment via Federal spying, the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and the deceitfully-yet-Orwellian named PATRIOT Act. Huckabee has been a cheerleader for the theft of liberty in the name of “security” and completely misunderstands the nature of the war in the middle east, the causes of radical Islam’s opposition to “the West” (that is, the West’s governments), and the motivation for terrorists. Huckabee profoundly, like so many other GOP insiders and Fox News narrative pushers, ignores the colossal destabilizing nature of United States foreign policy.
Being as Huckabee was Governor during the Bush years, Huckabee was cheering for Bush all along as Bush sought to expand Federal control of education with his awful No Child Left Behind agenda and also as Bush levied on the American people one of the largest welfare expansions since the LBJ years in his Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation. Moreover, and quite hilariously in my opinion, Huckabee was wanted to use the Federal government to fight climate change, alleging that this was part of his “biblical duty.” Even more hilariously though, Huckabee was the lone Republican to oppose Bush’s veto of the Democrat effort to expand the socialist State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Consequently, Huckabee went ahead to pass his own health program in the State, known as ARKids, which “extended coverage to children whose parents earned too much to qualify for Medicaid.” Bush was one of the United State’s worst presidents, according to Constitutional and libertarian standard– and yet, it appears that Huckabee may have been worse.
From The Arkansa Leader, here is a list of Huckabee tax increases:
– Imposed an income tax surcharge of 3 percent on tax liabilities of individuals and domestic and foreign corporations (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003). (It was temporary until revenues improved. The legislature repealed it in 2005.)
– Increased the sales tax by 1/8 of one percent by initiated act (but it was a personal campaign by Huckabee, who campaigned across the state for it and took a celebrated bass boat trip for 4 days down the Arkansas River holding press conferences in each river city to urge passage of the act)
– Increased the sales tax by one-half of 1 percent (Act 1492 of 1999)
– Increased the sales tax by 7/8ths of 1 percent and expand the sales tax to many services previously exempt from the tax (Act 107, 2nd special session of 2003)
– Collected a 2 percent tax on chewing tobacco, cigars, package tobacco, cigarette papers and snuff (Act 434 of 1997)
– Levied an additional excise tax of 7 percent on tobacco (Act 38 of 1st special session of 2003)
– Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco permits (Act 1337 of 1997)
– Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco – cigarettes by $1.25 per thousand cigarettes and 2 percent of the manufacturers’ selling price on tobacco products (Act 434 of 1997)
– Increased the tax on cigarettes by 25 cents a pack (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003)
– Levied a 3 percent excise tax on all retail sales of beer (Act 1841 of 2001 and extended by Act 272 of 2003 and Act 2188 of 2005)
– Revived the 4 percent mixed drink tax of 1989 and added a 4 percent tax on private clubs (Act 1274 of 2005)
– Increased the tax on gasoline by 3 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999)
– Increased the tax on diesel by 4 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999) Note: Contrary to what Huckabee has said repeatedly in debates, speeches and TV shows, the 1999 gasoline and diesel taxes were not submitted to the voters and approved by 80 per cent of them. It was never submitted to a vote. It was the governor’s bill and it became law without a vote of the people. What the voters did approve in 1999 was a bond issue for interstate highway reconstruction but it did not involve a tax increase. Existing taxes and federal receipts were pledged to retire the bonds.
– Increased the driver’s license by $6 a person, from $14 to $20 (Act 1500 of 2001)
In summary, Mike Huckabee’s record on nearly every issue is troublesome. While he speaks the “right rhetoric,” and uses his religious background in a politically expedient way, Mike Huckabee is a fantastic example of the flaw in only considering a politician’s alleged faith in deciding whether or not to support him. One should not look for a “Christian” politician. One should look for a limited government advocate, who walks the talk, who is honest, and who actually has a robust political theory rather than a “say what is needed to get elected” attitude. (*ahem RonPaul ahem*).
Perhaps I’ll end with the still relevant words of Robert Novack, who wrote of Huckabee in the 2008 election cycle:
Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans.
Christians, Conservatives, libertarians, Constitutionalists: for the love of liberty, don’t support Mike Huckabee, right wing Progressive.