Mike Huckabee just pulled an impressive 9 point lead over Mitt Romney to win the Iowa caucus, the first in what looks to be a long, drawn-out campaign season. I’m sure there’s a good deal of disagreement about him, even among people reading this site. But I’ve found him to be a thoughtful, reasonable candidate whose populist sensibilities and talk of hope really inspire me. I think the clear message from Iowa tonight (upsetting Hilary and Romney) is that people are tired of where American politics has gone and are really looking for change.
Obama’s victory speech carried with it much of the same sentiment. Stop the division and come together again. Now I know that when you hold firmly to a certain set of beliefs—the war in Iraq is immoral, abortion is the slaughter of innocent life, everyone American should be given health care—it’s hard to be level-headed and dispassionate when legislating. But there is a clear desire from moderates on both sides that we at least need to try to reach out.
I think that’s why I support Mike. Sure, he raised some taxes in his state. Does he forfeit the title of conservative because he didn’t wave his fingers and say: “Read my lips, there will be no new taxes?” Perhaps. But I honestly don’t care. No seriously. If a person has the philosophy of small government and cuts taxes like crazy, so what if he raises taxes here or there when necessary? To me it’s a sign that he’s willing to compromise to get things done. Ack! I said compromise! Yes. The secret to working with people, no matter if it’s teaching, running a business or just plain building relationships, is compromise.
Think of political compromise like the layers of our body. There is a very firm bone structure that holds everything together and gives it shape; but there is also a fleshy exterior of muscle and skin that brings elasticity and versatility. Our core values are absolutely important, and they shape who we are; but there are some things that are not worth fighting over, especially if they help us gain allies on the more important issues. That’s the kind of compromise I’m speaking of.
I also like Mike because he is a great communicator. I believe the President should not only be a person of great conviction, but also a person who can convince others of the merit of that conviction. What does it profit a man if he accomplishes his agenda but loses the credibility of that agenda? A worthwhile cause needs a worthy spokesman to proclaim, reenforce, and even criticize when it goes off course. People (and by people I mean me) are tired of a President who has trouble explaining his reasons, seems to put on a poker face at press briefings and feels like an empty suit. Mike is a breath of fresh air.
All of that said, I think it’s going to be an uphill battle for him. Change is the theme for the 2008 elections, so he’s going to do well in the primaries. Mitt Romney will sink like a stone with Bush chained to his leg. But when the general election rolls around in November and Mike and Obama (Hillary who? Oh, you mean that lady who is the antithesis to change?) go head-to-head, I think it’s going to be tight. Both position themselves as catalysts for change; but Obama’s positions stand out in stark contrast to Bush’s presidency: bring home the troops, health care for everyone, talk to all foreign figures (even the bad guys). So I think a lot of people will see Obama as genuine change in the government while Huckabee will be played as the third Bush. But Huckabee and Obama are foils; they both are criticized as being inexperienced, they both are gifted communicators and they both represent governmental change and populist ideals.
So a great big congratulations to you, Mike Huckabee. Get out there and let sensible people know that just because we believe in Jesus, that doesn’t make us knuckle-dragging neanderthals. Go be a skilled politician who happens to be a Christian and I’ll keep on being a skilled web designer who happens to be a Christian.