No longer a Republican, but a father of three, community activist and long time political observer and conservative, I wanted to add my two cents to the candidate endorsement list.
Admittedly, this is an exciting campaign cycle with a multitude of candidates. I wish there were fewer and better qualified candidates to chose from, but what you see is what you get. Last year I felt strongly about a gentleman named Tom Tancredo because I believed wholeheartedly that he had his fingers on the pulse of the most important issue of this election cycle – illegal immigration. What I later learned, as did others, was that Tom built a single issue platform. He lacked a depth in his positions. Nonetheless, we should be thankful that he ran.
Knowing that any support I offered Tancredo would be a risky long-term investment; I undertook a closer examination of the other candidates. McCain is a war hero, but seemed old and too liberal for me – especially after his push for amnesty. Rudy seemed slippery and conniving with too much emphasis on 9/11. Fred Thompson came off rough and laid back. The man I thought I would be supporting – Mitt Romney – seems to be an empty suit. I may be wrong on all those accounts, but I can only judge what I see and hear.
One candidate, far from perfect, struck me as genuine and caring. When I hear him speak I believe that he believes what he says. I don’t get the impression that he is borrowing anyone else’s values for the sake of running a campaign. He is a two plus term Governor of Arkansas and a Baptist Minister with private enterprise experience. Though his positions are often to the left of mine (but whose aren’t?) he has come to those conclusions based upon his core values. He has decided to be sympathetic to the children of illegal immigrants not because it will win him votes, clearly it will not. He supports those children because he believes America is too great a nation to look the other way when children are involved.
Mike has come under fire from others for his leniency on criminals seeking pardons. Being one of only two Governors currently in the Republican race he knows an aspect of leadership most others are unfamiliar with. Mike Huckabee knows what it is like to hold the future of a man in his hands. Mitt’s approach was to deny all clemency, I believe in part because he didn’t want to answer for pardons later in his political career. Mitt knew that pardons can go wrong because Governors must make an emotional and difficult decision – dare I call it a leap of faith? Romney could not, or would not, make those decisions. Huckabee did make those decisions. Mike made some bad decisions regarding parole and fully admits to them, but made the decision nonetheless. I remember an old boss once saying “It’s easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission”. True leaders make choices knowing that they might be wrong, but basing those choices on the right values.
Most important to me is Mike Huckabee’s Christian faith. Though I would not vote for him based solely on that issue – it is clearly important to me. Once outside the Bible belt Mike will lose support, but for now he is a powerful spotlight on an issue that many Americans feel strongly about – the separation of church and state. At the core of the Republican Party is the Christian Right – people who believe strongly that we are not simply descended from apes, but the magnificent creation of a loving, higher and greater being. These people are the backbone of the American political landscape. They vigorously defend their right to own a gun, speak their mind freely and give thanks to God – with apologies to none. They watched in disbelief as gay marriage swept across Massachusetts like some winter storm and they recognize the uglier trend that exists in politics – flip flopping for votes. They look for candidates that have a grounded set of values based on something they feel is important – the belief in God.
We have seen the impact of removing religion from the public arena. The void is quickly filled with whatever foolishness is in vogue. The schools that no longer allow prayer are finding themselves the servants of the Gay, Lesbian movement. The schools that no longer allow prayer are filled to overflowing with gangs and drugs. The void has been further filled with gratuitous sex education that refuses to consider abstinence as a possible and rationale option. The result is runaway teen pregnancies, gang affiliation, failing schools, increases in crime, drug use and alcohol abuse. These are the social ills that may soon cripple a nation of young people – and the government that is forced to provide for them.
As Mike Huckabee recently said “I am not writing the curriculum for an eight grade social studies class, I am running for President”. He is not trying to force his religious beliefs on us, but he is trying to fight for the values that made this great nation what it is today. Many of those values came hand in hand, and inseparably, with the Christian faith. As the United States moves toward an ever increasingly secular state we lose the very value system that made us great in the first place – Faith.
Mike Huckabee is a man of substance. His political and business experience makes him a strong candidate for President. Iowans seem to realize that. Nowhere has Huckabee been more closely scrutinized than in Iowa. Most of all, he has scrutinized himself and knows the values that make him what he is today. Tomorrow, Mike Huckabee will be Mike Huckabee. He will not change or morph into something more politically digestible simply because the polls tell him so. He is a rock. Only God knows what many of the other candidates will be tomorrow.