Evangelicals and Huckabee vs. Thompson

9 01 2008

Filed under: Huckabee, Thompson, Election, 2008, Politics, Conservatism, Christianity

Why don’t, as Rush asks, evangelicals support Thompson over Huckabee? Rush took it a step further and joined the mainstream conservative blogosphere and many liberals in criticizing Huckabee, sarcastically calling it the “New Conservatism.”

My question for you evangelicals is this: If you’re looking for a real conservative, why are you supporting Huckabee? What about Fred Thompson, if you’re looking for a real conservative?

I want to say to you Huckabee supporters that you’ve convinced me. I’ve been convinced through the power and the brilliance of your arguments made to me here on the phone on this program, today, that Governor Huckabee is a true conservative.

This is, ladies and gentlemen, the new conservatism. I’m sitting here chastising myself. “How could I have missed this?”

For Christians, who happen to make up a significant portion of the GOP’s voting bloc, voting priorities begin with the candidate’s own personal salvation, but don’t end there, as Rush implies in his identity politics accusations of Huckabee. Next comes social issues (life, marriage, etc), but it doesn’t end there either. Afterwards national security, the economy, health care, etc can vie for the remaining priorities, but those first two, in that order, are critical. Now certainly there is no litmus test for public office, but that does not apply to individual voters. Voters can and should weed out candidates who don’t represent what matters most to them.

In past elections, the Republican candidate tapped to win the nomination has typically been acceptable for social conservatives. But this year is different in that there is no “preferred conservative” on all fronts.

My question for Rush is, if Fred Thompson is the chosen representation of conservatism for evangelicals and yourself, why did you wait for Huckabee to surge to champion Thompson? It’s not a “new conservatism,” Rush. It’s just that this election is lacking a strong conservative that satisfies a vast majority of the party. Compromise will be necessary.

2,000 + values voters heard both candidates speak at last October’s Washington Briefing and Huckabee won the on-site straw poll handily. He meets the prioritized considerations of evangelicals that I just discussed. There will have to be compromise somewhere within the party if he wins the nomination. Republicans should know better than to think evangelicals would choose a candidate whose faith is in question vs. one who communicates his very clearly. Should Thompson win the nomination, it would be a safe bet that most social conservatives will support him in the national election. The question is, if Huckabee is the nominee, will mainstream conservatives support him?

If the answer is no, I would challenge you to seriously re-evaluate your priorities. Huckabee certainly isn’t Reagan, nor is he perfect. But he does represent the path of least resistance for compromise in the party while staying as close to conservatism as possible.

If the answer is yes, then it doesn’t do any good to label a potential candidate as the purveyor of “new conservatism.” Instead, let’s just call it like it is. There probably won’t ever be another Reagan conservative in most of our lifetimes. There certainly isn’t one in this election. So we all vote for a candidate that best represents what we believe and hope and pray for the best.

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