Friday, January 18, 2008

The Pandering of Huckabee

As the South Carolina primary has emerged as a battle between McCain, Huckabee and (to a lesser extent) Thompson, it's been interesting to see how the candidates are tailoring their messages in the final days. It appears that McCain is courting moderates and the military crowd (both demographics he should easily carry) while Huckabee and Thompson are fighting it out for the Evangelical vote.

In doing so, the religious pandering of Huckabee is reaching new lows. His tactics may pay off short-term but will only hinder his longer-term chances in both the Republican primaries and the general election. In other words, they may be effective with the Christian Conservative base of the Republican Party but they will not be effective with the majority of Americans who have moved beyond such divisiveness. The pandering of Huckabee is nothing new, as noted in an earlier post:
Sadly, to cement his base of support among Iowa Evangelicals and fend off Romney down the home stretch, he has resorted to the politicization of his faith – a disturbing and growing trend in Republican politics. Americans have almost become resigned to these tactics but we also thought Mike Huckabee was different. He was the Baptist Minister with the theology degree who relied on his faith to bring us together, not tear us apart. Now he is the candidate who plays the religion card to exploit the insecurities of those who hold prejudice against others who may or may not be “Christians.”The temptation for Huckabee to employ these tactics was inevitable but we hoped he wouldn’t take the bait. Now that he has, it has cheapened his campaign and it has cheapened the very faith he espouses.
In South Carolina, intolerance plays well with certain demographics and Huckabee has sought to exploit that as much as possible. When questioned by a religious website about how some of his beliefs could be interpreted as "radical", he responded:

"I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again."

Give me a break. It remains truly baffling that certain segments of the population (often those who preach acceptance and love for their fellow man) are so threatened by two loving adults who choose to legalize their partnership through the institution of marriage. Doing so would apparently lead to the crumbling of the foundations of "traditional marriage", demean the "sanctity" of this holy institution (with a 50 percent failure rate - an unspoken topic amongst these guardians of marriage), and ultimately lead to a windfall of benefits and privileges such as (gasp) hospital visitation rights.

Huckabee asserts that allowing two loving and consenting adults to marry could lead to government-sanctioned bestiality. Really? How utterly distasteful and offensive is that? As a serious candidate for President of the United States, he has to realize that there are serious implications to his words. The next time he panders to one crowd while demonizing another, I hope he remembers that. Preying on insecurity and bigotry for a few votes is beneath any politician, and is particularly deplorable for someone who boasts of being a "man of the cloth".

Standing on the center stage of American politics, his audience is much bigger than just those directly within the sound of his voice. Failing to appreciate that reality has led to the downfall of numerous political candidates who have sought to pander first and apologize to those offended later. It simply does not work because the American people can see right through it. In this case, Huckabee may never seek the support of the gay community, but he will undoubtedly need the support of their family members, their friends, their loved ones, and the countless Americans who find intolerance and prejudice offensive.

Nevertheless, the path Mike Huckabee has chosen is clear and he is charging full steam ahead - head down and straight back toward irrelevance.

1 comment:

Marli said...

Huckabee (and those like him) should be completely ashamed of their non-Christian intolerance. True Christians would never play to base fears in order to gain votes--nor would they condemn the legitimacy of love between any two consenting people.