Please do not dismiss Mike Huckabee as nobody more than the newest in a line of GOP born-again hope-to-bes. The religious dimension of Pastor Huckabee, while irritating, is not what makes the former Arkansas governor a man to worry about.
What makes him so is his ability to reach ordinary working people. He vibrates on the same frequency with all those two-job, frazzled families who live sleep-deprived, overworked existences. This is not a big-bucks GOP candidate. As he says, “I’m not a Wall Street Republican, I’m a Main Street Republican.” According to The Politico, “He recently told reporters that if the GOP represented ‘the people who are getting $100 million bonuses and not the people losing their jobs because of it,’ the party would be on the losing side of the ballot.”
Huckabee is a classic “friend of the little guy” candidate, whom you do not often find in the Republican Party. He says things like, “If it was all about the money…then we might as well put the presidency up on eBay” and “People really are more important than the purse, and what a great lesson for America to learn.” Huckabee draws his audiences by likening the ideal GOP candidate to the guy who hired you rather than the guy who laid you off.
When he talks, people, both churched and unchurched, listen. The man penetrates, he gets through, and if he gets a loud enough microphone he will get through to many millions. He has that mixture of the patriotism and meat-and-potatoes talk that convinces: “When we start outsourcing everything and we are in that kind of a trade deficit, then just remember, who feeds us, who fuels us and who helps us to fight–that’s to whom we are enslaved. So if we can’t do those three things, our national security is very much at risk.”
Funny, fast on his feet, likable, inspirational, a man who is your friendly equal yet steely and tough and somehow above you, Huckabee has all the signs of becoming a compelling, not-too-democratic leader, the kind of leader his followers worship and about whom they will not believe a negative word.
And there is much to like. Little Rock, Arkansas, journalist Max Brantley, writing in Salon, and a man who detests Huckabee, says, “The Bush administration would have done well to emulate Mike Huckabee’s speedy and successful relief effort for Hurricane Katrina refugees. He raised taxes for schools, highways and children’s health.” He also did his damnedest to stop Medicaid from paying for an abortion for a teenage girl who had been raped by her stepfather.