Only 11 more months until Americans go to the polls and elect a new president. It’s unfortunate to see Mike Huckabee doing so well among Republicans. Not that Mitt Romney is any better. So, the Bible-thumpers seem to be dominating the Republican party polls as usual.
Huckabee is a former Southern Baptist preacher, was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and says “I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.”, “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.”, and “Government knows it does not have the answer, but it’s arrogant and acts as though it does. Church does have the answer but will cowardly deny that it does and wonder when the world will be changed.” (Link) And when asked about his recent surge in election polls, Huckabee replied: “There’s only one explanation for it and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that felt that … two fish and five loaves could feed a crowd of 5,000 people. … There literally are thousands of people across this country who are praying that little would become much and it has.” (Link)
Unsurprisingly, he was one of the three presidential candidates who said he doesn’t believe in evolution (the others were Sam Brownback and Tom Tancredo). He also said he wants “schools to acknowledge that there are views that are different than evolution.” Later, when asked whether he believed in a literal six-day creation, he danced around, said he didn’t know because “he wasn’t there” (which, by the way, is a rhetorical phrase used by young earth creationists right before they say they know someone who was there — God was there, and we should trust the literal genesis story). Huckabee turns it into the question of whether there is a God or not, and “if anyone wants to believe that they are the descendant of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it .. but I believe all of us in this room are the unique creations of a God who knows us and loves us”. As if those two statements are mutually exclusive – Michael Behe and a number of Christians would agree with both of those statements. Of course, I’d bet $100 that Huckabee believes in a literal six-day creation six-thousand years ago – he just dances like a politician because he knows to use vague, comforting statements to get votes while avoiding exposing his views that will lose him votes. His response was clearly rehearsed and decided with his election team.
In his response on evolution, he says it’s an odd question to ask a presidential candidate because he’s “not writing the curriculum for an eighth grade science book”. For some reason, I think it is important to have leaders who are scientifically literate, since they are the single most influential person on the nation. And with the anti-science policies of the Bush administration, you can get a taste of the things that can go wrong. Not only does the president have the power suppress scientists views on the universe (like when the presidential appointee to NASA tried to keep scientists there from referring to the Big Bang as anything but a flimsy theory), but they appoint judges (who weigh in on the creation-evolution debate), including the supreme court justices, and issues of “school choice” (read: making it easier to get kids out of public schools that teach evolution, and into Christian schools that teach Christianity and creationism). And despite his quip about “not writing the curriculum for an eighth grade science book”, some of his supporters are supporting Huckabee based on what he would do to education curriculum in the country:
Mike believes the government needs less of a role in running our children’s education and more of a role in supporting parents’ educational decisions for their children. Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right and government support to personalize their child’s education as they so wish.
And we must not fear conservative curriculum courses like world religion, ethics, Intelligent Design, and the most overlooked yet embedded text in Western culture and civilization – the Bible – which even our Founders expected us to teach.
And what if public schools don’t change? The minds and hearts of our children are on the line. And if the curricula don’t match the values in our homes, then we must seek other alternatives. If it doesn’t fit, we must omit! We must remove our children from the public schools and seek private ones, chartered ones or homeschooling co-ops.
As far back as the late ’80s, and then as governor, Huckabee has always been a big backer of educational alternatives to public schools. (Link)
And now Chuck Norris is supporting Huckabee – which might be a reason, in itself, to dislike Huckabee. In the past few years, Chuck Norris has exposed himself as an ignorant, right-wing Bible thumper who knows nothing about evolution except that “it’s not real”. Want to see a video of Chuck Norris promoting Bible study in public schools? Here you go.
Huckabee also advocates what he calls the “FairTax” – which would eliminate the IRS and income taxes, switching to a federal sales tax system. His “FairTax” would insure that sales tax isn’t paid on spending up to the poverty level, but it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t shift the tax burden away from the wealthy. Under the current system, people pay 0% taxes on everything upto $5,350, 10% of their income on everything earned between $5,350 and $13,175, and so on until you reach the top tax bracket: paying 35% on all earnings above $349,700. His “FairTax” would mean paying some flat rate (e.g. 25%) on all spending above poverty level. It’s hard to see how this wouldn’t help the rich. The super-rich are paying nearly 35% of their income to taxes (ignoring the loop-holes, of course). A tax system that only makes them pay 25% is going to help them, and those taxes are going to be paid by someone else – it’s not the people living under the poverty level, rather, it’s the middle class. While some people might say that it closes loop-holes for the rich, and that might be true, it might also be true that the FlatTax is just another way for the rich to keep more money under the guise of closing loopholes that benefit the rich. I’m also not clear on how the government would get any income from people who earn their money in the US, but don’t spend it here. Say, someone who is extremely rich and they buy properties overseas. Further, he calls it “family friendly”, but if you aren’t getting tax exemptions for the number of dependents (i.e. children), then it alters the existing tax burden by moving it away from couples without children, and onto families with children. His plan also involves the repeal of the 16th Amendment (which allows the federal government to collect taxes on income), meaning that he’s going to burn some bridges to make sure the country can’t switch back to the old system without re-creating the amendment.
He also supported adding an amendment to the constitution to outlaw gay marriage, and is pro-life.
In the end, it’s his Bible-has-all-the-answers approach to everything that irritates me most. I’m sure that will appeal to a lot of people though.
It would be nice if “talking about your admiration and relationship with your invisible, imaginary sky daddy” was a little less significant in politics. But, it seems to be the king-maker: you can’t get elected in the United States without it, and that’s terribly sad.
I’ve seen a lot of Ron Paul grassroots stuff around, too. There are times where I agree with Ron Paul’s ideas on foreign relations, but most of his ideas are wacky and strongly conservative – like his idea of taking the United States out of the United Nations, which he has been advocating “for twenty years”.
People sometimes tell me that they don’t vote for a political party – they vote for politicians based on their positions. The problem is that Republican politicians seems so completely opposite of my views that it’s hard to imagine even finding a Republican that I would like. And while I consider my views to be liberal, I don’t even consider myself a strong liberal.
Update: Update: Mother Jones has a new article on Huckabee where they talk about his 1998 book, “Kids who kill” and his attack against everything remotely liberal or secular, while, at the same time, claiming he can end the polarization in the country.