Twenty-five days ago I declared Mike Huckabee the one candidate the GOP primary does not need. Since that time I have been reading and collecting material to continue to build my case. The most prominent excoriation of Huckabee is thanks to George Will. Ron Fournier went for the obvious pun discussing his “hucksterism,” and Huckabee responded by denying that the American people can hold him accountable on everything he has done. (That sounds remarkably like our current lamentable president.) Quinn Hillyer did a “reality check” on Huckabee on two things I noted in my original piece, his clemency record and his Mormon attacks on Romney. Eliana Johnson attempts to paint Marco Rubio in a less than complimentary light by tying him to Huckabee, I tend to think it is more about Huckabee’s actions than Rubio’s but it speak volumes about Huckabee regardless.
I thought of Huckabee when I read a Russell Moore piece in reaction to the recent Pew survey in which Moore opines that Christianity is just fine, we are simply jettisoning the less than sincere amongst us. That is exactly the kind of “I’m a real Christian and you are not,” rhetoric that Huckbee is quite fond of. It is the kind of thought that Alex Isenstadt @ Politico latches onto when he declares that Scott Walker has to prove his religion bona fides, because Walker’s stances on certain issues do line up precisely with those of some Christian polirical action groups. We need faith-based unity, not this kind of “genuine” rhetoric.
But leave it to lefty Episcopal chairman of the Dartmouth Religion Dept, Randall Balmer to put his finger on the thing that irritates me most in the LATimes.
For much of the 20th century, America’s evangelicals felt marginalized. They hunkered into a subculture of their own making — congregations, denominations, Bible camps, Bible institutes, private colleges, seminaries — to protect themselves from the depredations of an outside world that they believed was both corrupt and corrupting.
When they emerged into the political arena in the late 1970s, enraged by the rescission of tax-exempt status for segregated schools and later galvanized by opposition to abortion, they came to believe that their values were under attack. Despite their numbers and their growing political influence, they still felt, in Huckabee’s words, scorned and mocked.
The headline to the piece declares Huckabee’s “rhetoric of religious victimization.” Balmer’s thesis is that Huckabee is right out of the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson playbook. Maybe, maybe not, but he sure does play the victim card and that, more than anything else, is what I find so irksome about the man. You do not win a culture by playing a victim!
There is much talk of Christianity returning to the persecuted state of the first century. Such rhetoric is overblown, but let’s consider if it were true. Christianity advanced from upstart movement in a small devout corner of the Roman Empire to official religion of that empire in 400 years. It did so in part on the sacrifices of persecuted martyrs – but those martyrs were anything but victims. I have found and read many accounts of martyrdom, but never have I read an account of whining about victimization. The ultimate martyr wished there was another way, but never did He claim victim-hood.
We stand on the high ground. We have all the tools we need to win this culture and then watch its politics fall into place. But if we follow the likes of Mike Huckabee we will never do so. We’ll just sit around and cry about how it used to be and how those ugly, ugly people on the left are mean to us.
I, with God’s infinite help, intend to win.