Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Most Dangerous Man In The Game - And The Lamest

Mike Huckabee has made a splash with evangelical Republican voters, who won the Iowa caucus for him, and many who have seen his speeches and interviews have been impressed with his low-key, calm demeanor. Huckabee's nice-guy persona is certainly a welcome change from George W. Bush's bluster and Mitt Romney's slick brand of corporate phoniness.

Even though Huckabee isn't favored to win the presidency (polls find each of the three Democrats candidates beating him), he is the most dangerous candidate to U.S. freedom and democracy: He wants to change the Constitution to suit his faith. Here is a quote from Huckabee on the campaign trail in Michigan On Monday, Jan. 14:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Among all the candidates, only Mitt Romney joins Huckabee in calling for a Constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage, but one gets the sense from Huckabee - who has never been shy about promoting his religious faith - that there is more in the Constitution that he'd like to change (and one also gets the sense that Romney's call for an amendment is just a ploy to get votes). How would the former Baptist preacher and Arkansas governor feel about enacting laws that follow the principle of separation of church and state? It doesn't sound like he'd be vigilant in that regard. As long as he and his supporters keep believing in the fallacy that the U.S. is a "Christian nation," they will continue to feel justified that their religious beliefs should be law.

Forget the fact that it would be extremely hard to change the Constitution, Huckabee's statement in Michigan tells us the kind of executive branch he would run. He'd likely follow Bush's example and forbid funding of stem cell research (in fact, Huckabee is the only GOP candidate who has given an unqualified answer to the question of stem cell research - he doesn't support it), and forbid foreign non-governmental organizations that receive USAID family planning funds from using their own, non-U.S. funds to provide legal abortion services, lobby their own governments for abortion law reform, or even provide accurate medical counseling or referrals regarding abortion. As we've seen with the Bush administration, faith would influence Huckabee's decisions and guide his philosophy. Would he defer to his faith in the face of evidence to the contrary from science or culture? Our experience with the Bush administration doesn't give us confidence that he'd make decisions based on reason. After all, Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution. Would he appoint a secretary of education who did?

Ironically, the same freedom of religion which allows Huckabee and his followers to practice their beliefs as they see fit would be the first victim to a President Huckabee codifying his religion into law. We would then be one nation under his god.

Despite the scary implications, at least Huckabee is a candidate who expresses belief in something - and that may be part of his appeal. It would be hard to find a lamer candidate than Fred Thompson, who appears not to believe in anything and appears ready to take no action as president. Look at Thompsons's positions, such as they are: He wouldn't make any changes to education policy, and says only that he "favors school choice" (a euphemism for taking money away from public schools and giving it to private companies that run private schools). As for dealing with climate change, Thompson says he questions whether global warming caused by humans is real. (Translation: He'll do nothing to halt it.) He's running on a platform of no gun control, so he wouldn't do anything to keep guns from proliferating. At a time when the nation is having a dialogue about changing health care and confronting the crisis around it, Thompson has said he would let "the market, not Washington" handle it. (Translation: he would do nothing.) The war in Iraq? Thompson said he supports Bush's course, so he'd stay with it.

It would be hard to find two worse alternatives in this election than Huckabee and Thompson.