Diary

Blogging the Right Thing: Faux-Cons: Worse Than Liberals

Huckabee has one quote in “Do the Right Thing“ that’s absolutely correct.

Huckabee writes in Chapter 7: Faux-Cons Worse Than Liberalism, “I will likely say things in this chapter that will be misunderstood by sincere people who will react without taking the time to put my comments into context. Others will purposefully misrepresent it, just as they did during the campaign.”

Such has been the case with this chapter. It’s been represented to suggest that traditional conservatives are shot down as Faux Cons, that the Club for Growth is attacked as a Faux-Con organization. This is simply not true. Club for Growth isn’t mentioned in this chapter. Huckabee draws a pretty narrow parameter for Faux-Cons.

It would be much easier to explain this if Huckabee gave a bullet point list of what it meant to be a Faux Con, but Huckabee’s mind doesn’t appear to work like that. In this chapter, he praises Ron Paul and Cher in the same paragraph.

Huckabee makes the case for his own Conservatism, laying out his core values. “I genuinely believe in forcing government to live within its means, cut unnecessary spending to the the bone, eliminate social experiments, and government “feel good” programs, and push more charitable works to the family, the faith community, and the private sector.”

Huckabee lists his beliefs in favor of lower taxes, the purpose of government, limited government, a strong defense, and a series of other issues, though Huckabee concedes his words are unlikely to convince those who’ve already made up their minds otherwise.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention he quotes a large portion of my article, “National Review does not Speak for Me” mainly as an illustration, though also to drive home a point. This quote was particularly central to the case Huckabee makes in the chapter:

I never bothered to look into the facts, particularly in regards to the charges against Mike Huckabee’s fiscal record. If I had, I would have found out that he had two court rulings come out against his state that forced increases in Medicaid and Education, and that on top of that he faced a legislature that was at least 70% Democrat every year he was in office and could override his veto by a simple majority. I wonder which Huckabee critic could have done more for conservative values than Huckabee under those circumstances.If this past election cycle taught us nothing, it taught us that bias exists in the conservative media. The one-sided attacks on Mike Huckabee last December were not only unfair, they allowed the rise of John McCain to the Republican nomination, as the National Review-anointed leader of the Conservative movement surrendered on February 7th after having won only one competitive primary.

Huckabee then enters his thesis on Faux Cons. Based on Huckabee’s comments, here’s a concise list of Faux Con traits. I don’t think all traits are equally required or always present (particularly 2)

  1. You’re out of touch with both political reality and people’s needs in your understanding of how government works. People who insist that Huckabee should have governed as a libertarian in a state with a 70% override power would fall into that category.
  2. Decrying taxes, but demanding programs and policies that bring about the need for a tax increase. Huckabee, in a previous chapter, cited conservatives who wanted longer sentences, parole abolished, and no additional money spent on prisons. In this chapter, he cites a legislator who railed against every source of revenue, but was first in line for projects or to get his people hired for government programs.
  3. “Disdain and sometimes outright contempt” for religious people. Huckabee takes on secularist misnomers and does a brief illustration of the country’s religious heritage.
  4. Following a “pagan” religion which worships “personal power and wealth.” Huckabee is clear about the term pagan, saying, “I use the term ‘pagan’ not in the perjorative sense, but as a factual description of the worship of that which is material or symbolic.” Huckabee suggest that “If there was a Muhammad-like prophet of them, it might be Ayn Rand, but this philosophy has many disciples, and most of them don’t even realize they are devotees of a worldview that’s as much a religion as an economic system.” At the risk of being flamed, I’ll say there are a lot of folks who worship money and/or power as gods, and it’s a corrosive philosophy. On this point, Huckabee is absolutely right.

Huckabee argues not only are the “Faux Cons” wrong on a philosophical plane, but a political one, arguing that the heart of the Republican Party is the Social Conservatives who come from the hard working middle class (HWMC) and they don’t jive with libertarian utopianism.

Huckabee writes, “These are the people whose votes swing an election, while Republicans have thought (mistakenly) that they were solidly GOP, the truth is that they are values voters more than party people. And the Republicans have done a lot to alienate them. There has been an assumption that these are the voters who will “come along” and vote “right” regardless of the party’s message or who the candidate is and what he or she stands for. Believing that will hold for the future is wishful and wasteful thinking.”

Huckabee tells some stories from the trail, including the famous story of the woman who gave the campaign her wedding ring despite Huckabee’s refusal.

Huckabee writes that the values voters are not libertarians, but they are economic conservatives, who genuinely want less government interference and intervention, but they don’t want government to “simply shut its eyes or ears to crushing human needs that had gone unnoticed and untouched by family, community, or church.”

Huckabee draws a line between economic conservatism and libertarianism and places himself on the economic conservative line. His argument politically is that, if the party steps away from Value’s issues and becomes far more libertarian on economics as some people want, it will destroy the Republican Party by driving Values Voters to the Democrats or out of the process, because libertarianism isn’t an ideology that the HWMC typically identifies with.

I’m perhaps more economically conservative that Huckabee, but I’m no Economic Libertarian. The Boise Metro area was the largest area in the United States without a Community College. I supported the bond for the College of Western Idaho and peeved off a few libertarians in the process.

I know a lot of people exactly like what Huckabee described: Folks against $700 billion bailouts, who have problems with government assistance going to people who could and should be out working, but who have no problem with it for those who truly have no other option due to disability or temporary circumstances.

Others will point to Ronald Reagan’s statement on libertarianism as an argument, but will fail to quote the whole thing:

If you analyze it, I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference, or less centralized authority, or more individual freedom, and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that, like in any political movement, there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all, or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions.

Indeed, and if you read Reason Magazine’s critique of then-Governor Reagan, you find he wasn’t a hardcore libertarian:

Reagan did institute property and inventory tax cuts, but during his tenure the sales tax was increased to six percent and withholding was introduced to the state income tax system. Under Reagan’s administration, state funding for public schools (grades K- 12) increased 105 percent (although enrollment went up only 5 percent), state support for junior colleges increased 323 percent, and grants and loans to college students increased 900 percent. Reagan’s major proposal to hold down the cost of government was a constitutional amendment to limit state spending to a specified (slowly declining) percentage of the gross income of the state’s population. The measure was submitted to the voters as an initiative measure, Proposition One, but was defeated when liberal opponents pictured it as a measure that would force local tax increases.Reagan instituted a major overhaul of the state welfare system that reduced the total welfare caseload (which had been rapidly increasing) while raising benefits by 30 percent and increasing administrative costs. He encouraged the formation of HMO-like prepaid health care plans for MediCal patients, a move that has drawn mixed reactions from the medical community. His Federally-funded Office of Criminal Justice Planning made large grants to police agencies for computers and other expensive equipment, and funded (among other projects) a large-scale research effort on how to prosecute pornographers more effectively. He several times vetoed legislation to reduce marijuana possession to a misdemeanor, and signed legislation sharply increasing penalties for drug dealers.

Is this Libertarianism in action? Reason magazine didn’t think so, but made a humble acknowledgment that would do today’s political class good:

Thus, Reagan’s record, while generally conservative, is not particularly libertarian. But one’s administrative decisions, constrained as they are by existing laws, institutions, and politics, do not necessarily mirror one’s underlying philosophy.

With Mike Huckabee, you’ll find that his recond, constrained as it was by the political situation he had in Arkansas, was relatively conservative, but that his instincts and overall philosophy line up with most economic conservatives.