Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds), Joe Carter (Evangelical Outpost) and Matthew Anderson (Mere Orthodoxy) jointly endorsed Governor Huckabee.

Our Conservative Choice:
An Endorsement of Mike Huckabee

[Note: This post is co-authored with Matthew Anderson and Justin Taylor.]

When it comes to politics, we three are pragmatic idealists. We are dedicated to the pursuit of noble principles and goals while never forgetting that politics is the “art of the possible.” Because we are idealists we are choosing to endorse a candidate who most aligns with our principles and values and is most worthy of our sacred trust. Because we are pragmatists we are choosing to endorse the one candidate who we believe is most capable of defeating Sen. Hillary Clinton.

MikeHuckabee.com - I Like Mike!Because we are pragmatic idealists we are endorsing Gov. Mike Huckabee.

For several months we have admired the scrappy campaign of Gov. Huckabee but believed it would be a wasted effort to support him with our time, energy, and finances. We bought into the notion that he could never get the GOP nomination since conservative voters would not support him. And the reason we were told conservative voters would never support him is because he could not get the nomination. To paraphrase a quote by John Piper, “It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated.”

We can no longer sit idly by and allow the campaign of a worthy candidate and an honorable man to flounder for lack of support.

Only after prayerfully considering the issues, the candidates, and the electoral calculus have we decided to settle on this joint endorsement. We hope that you will join us in careful deliberation of Gov. Huckabee’s candidacy and that you will join us in pledging to cast a sacred vote for the office of President of the United States. Our army may go down in defeat, but it won’t be because we refused to enlist in this worthy cause.

Addendum: We hope to persuade other conservatives that Gov. Huckabee is capable of not only appealing to the three legs of the conservative coalition—social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and defense conservatives—but to a broader confederation of Republicans and independents. The following is our reasons and rationale:

Social conservatives. Gov. Huckabee is by far the most socially conservative candidate running for President. He supports passage of constitutional amendments to protect the right to life and the definition of marriage; he opposes embryo-destructive research and promises to veto any pro-abortion legislation; he supports policies that ensure children receive “a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water”; he proposes a nine point Veteran’s Bill of Rights; and he emphasizes that there is a religious and moral imperative to conserve resources and protect God’s creation.

Defense conservatives. Gov. Huckabee vows to remain vigilant in the “world war” against Islamic extremism and says that “this threat is one that we cannot negotiate, accommodate, or placate—it is one which we must eradicate”; he supports the Powell Doctrine of using overwhelming force to accomplish a mission; he believes that “Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror” and is committed to defeating Al Qaeda there in order to bring stability to the country; he supports a regional summit so that Iraq’s neighbors become financially and militarily committed to stabilizing Iraq now rather than financially and militarily committed to widening the war later; he is a strong supporter of Israel, “the only fully-functioning democracy in the Middle East, and our greatest friend in that region”; he believes that securing the border is a national security measure and must be done immediately.

Fiscal conservatives. Gov. Huckabee is a candidate that should appeal to fiscal conservatives. He has signed the Presidential Taxpayer Protection Pledge which binds the signer to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates”; he supports the FairTax, which would abolish the IRS and replace the Internal Revenue Code with a consumption tax; he believes in free trade (that is, fair trade) and claims that “globalization, done right, done fairly, can be the equivalent of a big pay raise by allowing us to buy things more cheaply.”

Some of us were initially duped by the white paper on Huckabee that was released by the Club for Growth. Even thought the CFG is slightly outside of the mainstream on conservative fiscal policies (CFG is to fiscal conservatism what the Christian Coalition is to social conservatism), we respect the organization and appreciate their valuable work. Nevertheless, we were dismayed by their report that was at times misleading, if not outright dishonest.

We acknowledge that the Club for Growth believes that state sales taxes should never be increased to pay for such entitlements as education, Medicare, highways, and economic development. We understand that this is the reason that they oppose Gov. Huckabee’s record. But we believe that most Americans—and most conservatives—are not minarchists. We do not think the fiscal conservative bona fides of a man who cut taxes and fees almost 100 times, saving the taxpayers almost $380 million, and left a surplus of nearly $850 million should be denigrated because he took such actions as implementing a 1/8-cent sales tax hike. Although we respect the CFC, we are dismayed at the disingenuous means that the group has used to smear the Governor’s character. (We plan to issue a point-by-point response to the white paper in a future post.)

Of course, Gov. Huckabee is not a perfect candidate. No candidate ever is or ever will be. But we believe that he possesses qualities that should be appealing and encouraging to all branches of conservatives.

Just as importantly, Gov. Huckabee has the ability to appeal to non-conservative voters. He’s charming and charismatic, a gifted speaker with a quick wit and disarming sense of humor. He is the anti-Hillary.

In many ways, Gov. Huckabee is also an antithesis of President Bush. He has a real chance of being the successor, at least in one aspect, to the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan. Conservatism—and the country—have been deeply hindered by President Bush’s inability to communicate the conservative vision. “Huckabee is something that the party needs,” noted David Brooks of the New York Times. “He is a solid conservative who is both temperamentally and substantively different from the conservatives who have led the country over the past few years.”

As Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek, recently wrote:

The GOP is in a deep hole and keeps digging. Even after Mike Huckabee won big among attendees at last week’s “Values Voters Convention,” many evangelicals have been telling the former Arkansas governor—and onetime Baptist minister—that they like him but won’t back him because he can’t beat Hillary Clinton. They have it exactly backward. He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.

Some of the reasons include the weakness of the other candidates, especially Rudy Giuliani: “[The Mayor’s] positions on Iraq, S-CHIP and the need for anti-abortion Supreme Court justices are all deeply unpopular in Blue States and would be hung around his neck next fall.” He is also unacceptable to social conservatives and other religious voters. Mitt Romney is considered too slick, too corporate, too calculating, and too Mormon. And Fred Thompson, as Alter notes, “is not ready for prime time.”

Huckabee also has an engrossing personal story. Alter continues:

Voters in general elections are less ideological than in primaries and more intrigued by a compelling personal narrative. Huckabee’s story hits closer to home than any other. After chest pains and a diagnosis of diabetes, he lost more than 100 pounds with diet and exercise. He tells the story with wit and grace (as well as the one about his wife’s cancer diagnosis many years ago) and would kill on Oprah. When Huckabee talks about broader health-care issues he does more than brag about Arkansas’s success under his leadership. He speaks in a folksy and comprehensible way that would match up well against Hillary’s facts and figures or Obama’s abstractions. The same holds true on education; his support for large-scale federal support of art and music programs to improve creativity (and thus competitiveness in the global economy) would resonate with millions of voters.
Even on faith and politics, Mike is easy to like. From afar he seemed extreme because he raised his hand in a debate when the candidates were asked en masse if they believed in evolution. But when Bill Maher pressed him to justify that view on his HBO show, Huckabee responded with a nuanced and presentable discussion of the origins of the universe that seemed to pacify even the atheist host. (I found this as well when we discussed the subject some months ago.) He has surely said some wacky right-wing things that could be used against him, but no more than any of the others in the Republican field.

For these reasons and more, we have become persuaded that Mike Huckabee can indeed win the general election for President of the United States. Again, quoting Jonathan Alter of Newsweek: “He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.”

But he cannot win the general election if he does not first win the Republican nomination. Up until now, there have been few who have believed this is possible. But this is starting to change. David Brooks recently wrote, “It’s quickly clear that Huckabee is as good a campaigner as anybody running for president this year. And before too long it becomes easy to come up with reasons why he might have a realistic shot at winning the Republican nomination.”

Gov. Huckabee cannot win the nomination without our votes and without our support. Now is the time to act. If you care about the three legs of the conservative stool—social conservatism, fiscal responsibility, and strong defense—and if you do not want four (or eight!) years of Hillary, then we should join us in supporting Mike Huckabee for President.

Make a donation to the Huckabee campaign.

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this here, Sherri. I saw Justin Taylor up in Minneapolis only a month ago, when he was interviewing the Desiring God Conference speakers during the interview sessions (if anyone wants to see those, go to:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/37/2410_A_Conversation_with_John_Piper_and_John_MacArthur/

    and

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/37/2414_Speaker_Panel_QandA/

    The focus is on the candidates, but you can at least see who Justin is. Many people outside the Christian world may not know Justin, but in my mind, this is a huge endorsement, as many people already respect what Justin writes.

  2. Mike Huckabee is an adroit public speaker; he communicates his message in life-like, cogent terms, with compelling examples like the story he told (at the Ames Straw Poll) of what his then-11-yo daughter entered into the “Comments” section of a Visitors Book after visiting the Yad Vashem holocaust museum: “Why didn’t somebody do something?” Very effective.

    Huckabee is all about calling his listeners to “do something,” to awaken them to their own empowerment, and summon them to action in order that “Main Street,” and not “Wall Street,” will prevail in guarding the values and beliefs upon which the Republic was founded.

    Huckabee puts his listeners at ease, and reassures them, articulating clear concepts in a natural, easy style (no doubt something well-cultivated as a pastor). He’s not angry or demanding, like a Ron Paul, nor is he as “rigidly-scripted” as Romney, and his large brown eyes peer through a humble demeanor, drawing a striking contrast to a somewhat mechanical-squinty Brownback. One can easily imagine sitting comfortably with this man over a cup of coffee at the Main Street Cafe.

    Most importantly, Huckabee convinces many that he is ONE with the FairTax grassroots movement ( http://snipr.com/fthuckabeeonirs ). While many – like Romney, and others, who are invested in the current income tax system – seek to demagog ( http://snipurl.com/taxpanelrebutted ) the well-researched FairTax plan, its acceptance in the professional / academic community ( http://snipurl.com/econsopenletter ) continues to grow. Renown economist Laurence Kotlikoff believes that failure to enact the FairTax – choosing instead to try to “flatten” what he deems to be a non-flattenable income tax system – will eventuate into an irrevocable economic meltdown ( http://snipurl.com/meltdowninprogress ) because of the hidden aspects of the current system that make political accountability impossible.

    Romney’s recent WEAK response to FairTax questioning on “This Week with Geo. Stephanopoulos ( http://snipurl.com/stephanopoulosdebate )” drew a sharp contrast between Huckabee and all other presidential front-runners who will not embrace it. Huckabee understands that what’s wrong with the income tax can’t be fixed with “a tap of the hammer, nor a twist of the screwdriver.” That his opponents cling to the destructive Tax Code, the IRS, preserving political power of granting tax favors at continued cost to – and misery of – American families, invigorates his campaign’s raison d’etre.

    Of the FairTax, Huckabee asserts that it’s…

    • SIMPLE, easy to understand
    • EFFICIENT, inexpensive to comply with and doesn’t cause less-than-optimal business decisions for tax minimization purposes
    • FAIR, FLAT, and FAMILY FRIENDLY, loophole-free, and everyone pays their share
    • LOW TAX RATE is achieved by broad base with no exclusions
    • PREDICTABLE, doesn’t change, so financial planning is possible
    • UNINTRUSIVE, doesn’t intrude into our personal affairs or limit our liberty
    • VISIBLE, not hidden from the public in tax-inflated prices or otherwise
    • PRODUCTIVE, rewards – rather than penalizes – work and productivity

    A detailed benefits analysis of the plan (from The FairTax Book) explains Huckabee’s ardent advocacy:

    For INDIVIDUALS:
    • No more tax on income – make as much as you wish
    • You receive your full paycheck – no more deductions
    • You pay the tax when you buy “at retail” – not “used”
    • No more double taxation (e.g. like on current Capital Gains)
    • Reduction of “pre-FairTaxed” retail prices by 20%-30%
    • Adding back 29.9% FairTax maintains current price levels
    • FairTax would constitute 23% portion of new prices
    • Every household receives a monthly check, or “pre-bate”
    • “Prebate” is “advance tax payback” for monthly consumption to poverty level
    • FairTax’s “prebate” ensures progressivity, poverty protection
    • Finally, citizens are knowledgeable of what their tax IS
    • Elimination of “parasitic” Income Tax industry
    • NO MORE IRS. NO MORE FILING OF TAX RETURNS by individuals
    • Those possessing illicit forms of income will ALSO pay the FairTax
    • Households have more disposable income to purchase goods
    • Savings is bolstered with reduction of interest rates

    For BUSINESSES:
    • Corporate income and payroll taxes revoked under FairTax
    • Business compensated for collecting tax at “cash register”
    • No more tax-related lawyers, lobbyists on company payrolls
    • No more embedded (hidden) income/payroll taxes in prices
    • Reduced costs. Competition – not tax policy – drives prices
    • Off-shore “tax haven” headquarters can now return to U.S
    • No more “favors” from politicians at expense of taxpayers
    • Resources go to R&D and study of competition – not taxes
    • Marketplace distortions eliminated for fair competition
    • US exports increase their share of foreign markets

    For THE COUNTRY:
    • 7% – 13% economic growth projected in the first year of the FairTax
    • Jobs return to the U.S.
    • Foreign corporations “set up shop” in the U.S.
    • Tax system trends are corrected to “enlarge the pie”
    • Larger economic “pie,” means thinner tax rate “slices”
    • Initial 23% portion of price is pressured downward as “pie” increases
    • No more “closed door” tax deals by politicians and business
    • FairTax sets new global standard. Other countries will follow

    While passionately supporting FairTax, Huckabee understands that, if elected President, Congress will have to present the bill for his signature. His call to action goes beyond his candidacy, Main Street will have to demand ( http://snipr.com/scrapthecode ) that their legislators deliver the bill.

    (Permission granted to republish, in whole or part. – Ian)

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