Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Conservative Evangelic Religious resurgence in American Presidential Campaign: What Reverend Huckabee 2016 launching bid means?
Keywords or terms: Reverend Huckabee; Jerry Farwell; City of Hope, Arkansas; Evangelical Religious Conservatives; Presidential Campaign; Republican Party; Extremism; Religious Right; Stumbling blocks; Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender - LGBT; Caitlyn Jenner; Neo-Conservative Religious Groups; and, Alienating Voters.
Seldom in recent presidential campaigns has the attention of the public been drawn to the impact of Evangelical Religious Conservatives on American politics; or precisely, on the possible flag-bearer for a major political party? Not since the 1984 Jerry Farwell’s, founder of Liberty University, an Evangelical Southern Baptist televangelist conservative commentator, who vehemently denounced LGBT lifestyle, castigating it as a way to an apocalypse. Jerry Farwell, like Reverend Huckabee, hold very contrarian view of LGBT lifestyle to the extent that you come to believe it was and is, personal for both. How Reverend Jerry Farwell or Mike Huckabee would react to our new Ms. Caitlyn Jenner; or, is there no place for transgender in our present or future America? You come to realize rather quickly, that Reverend Huckabee’s candidacy for the 2016 White House race, launched about three weeks ago, is symptomatic of the 2004’s Farwell Moral Majority Coalition denouncement of anything that has to do with alternative lifestyles.
With the former Governor of Arkansas appealing in the “name of your children and grandchildren” for campaign contributions, the 44th Governor of Arkansas anchored his bid for 2016 White House, on the need to break the cycle of poverty and fight the rise of alternative lifestyles. Saying: “America will never break the cycle of poverty by pushing people to their minimum wage, but by empowering them to reach their maximum wage.” His declarations at the launching of his campaign, like his religious convictions, are closely reminiscent of a Social Cultural War. Interestingly, the campaign and launching were coming out of the City of Hope, same City where good old President Billy Clinton came out. Governor Huckabee’s pronouncements in his home state, put forefront, once again, evangelical religious conservative ethos, one that many Americans far from that culture or religion, very well feel is limiting or wholesomely unwelcoming. Could Governor Mike Huckabee pull this one off, this second time around?
Just as Jerry Farwell was the leading force behind the political rise of religious right in early 1980’s and 2004, FOX-TV News host Mike Huckabee and supporter of the Common Core Education Standard or curriculum, entered the 2016 Presidential Campaign race with the following denouncements: 1) any pressure from America on the State of Israel to cease building bedrooms for their families in Judea and Samaria, than Iranian’s pursuit of the nuclear bomb; 2) “unbalanced” trade deals that could shrink job prospects and the middle-class; 3) any attempt to erode Social Security and Medicare Benefits; 4) abandonment of Biblical principle of natural marriage; and, 5) dynasty presidency, where it seems one family or couple rotate the presidency among or between themselves. Any of these denouncements could have stood in for whatever Reverend Jerry Farwell stood for - literary interpretations of the words of the Bible. Reverend Huckabee religious conservatism upset or shook up the array of 2008 Republican candidates seeking the White House oval office, just as the coming out of Caitlyn Jenner shook the Internet and News media yesterday; however, the question this time around is: Can Huckabee burnish a political legendary of a time past?
Like Jerry Farwell, Mike Huckabee is against abortion, evolution, alternative lifestyle, LGBT. However, unlike Farwell, the persona of Huckabee is hardly radiating of hatred and outright degradation of other people who are not Christians. The visceral hatred from conservative evangelists to any outsiders to their religion and culture, make us want to delve further on some of Reverend Huckabee’s messages at his launching; and, explore the subject of the separation of state and religion, once again. Further, with recent week’s gang violence, many of whom wore Christian Crosses and Emblems, and the outing of some neo-conservative groups regarding attacks on Islamic mosques, the question of separation of state and religion, is once again as important as it was for our forefathers. Can America survive if relevant religious groups and our persons continue to interject their beliefs into governance? Can America stay true to the provisions of her constitution if party stalwarts, power brokers and candidates seeking the highest office in the land, espouse beliefs and convictions, which relegate many to the outsider status?
Since it is unlikely that an American Presidential candidate - as history has shown, can amass enough votes in a general election to win the grand-prize of American politics, if s/he makes religion the central piece of her/his campaign message, it is a one-dimensional risk that may ground the purpose of any campaign. Nonetheless, this is exactly what it seems Reverend Mike Huckabee has done? The candidacy of FOX News host interjects issues considered as rather too divisive or controversial to a Presidential Campaign that is already very much confusing. The venerable Reverend and former governor of the state of Arkansas committed this political sin at his Hope City Presidential Campaign launching; and, only time will tell, if he would be able to get away with it on his ride to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
For general debate sake, since the governor’s complete commitment to his religious and cultural ethics has not diminished his success in past executive position(s), why should he expect his very outlandish declaration for the 2016 Presidential Campaign bid, to handicap him as his party’s flag bearer, or deny him the ultimate prize of the 2016 contest? In fact, going by his personal declaration that his experience as a minister has afforded him special insights to executing executive functions, why must anyone feel or think contrarily that this same experience and current campaign message will not only win Huckabee the White House; but also, make America a more civil and religious society, where the faith and conviction of her seating President, transform the whole issues of poverty, income inequality, trade deficits, police brutality, and social injustices? How can the experience of a Governor who once commuted twice as many prisoners sentenced than three of his predecessor executives in Little rock, Arkansas, fail to accomplish and resolve all the mistrusts and suspicions of the judicial system, the negotiations for peace between Arabs and Jews, the declining productivity of the Euro-zone, the Canadian Oil Pipeline Project, and unresolved national immigration issues?
Governor Mike Huckabee, once wrote: “My experience dealing every day with real people who were genuinely affected by policies created by government gave me a deep understanding of the fragility of the human spirit and vulnerability of so many families who struggled from week to week. I was in the ICU at 2 a.m. with families faced with the decision to disconnect a respirator on their loved one; I counseled fifteen-year-old pregnant girls who were afraid to tell their parents about their condition; I spent hours hearing the grief of women who had been physically and emotionally clobbered by an abusive husband; I saw the anguish in the faces of an elderly couple when their declining health forced them to sell their home, give up their independence, and move into a long-term-care facility; I listened to countless young couples pour out their souls as they struggled to get their marriages into survival mode when confronted with overextended debt.” This declaration appears so messianic, some gullible supporters of the venerable Reverend’s candidacy, May very well wonder, why other people do not see in him, what they have. The choice of conviction and declarations of some leaders are so encapsulating that a few people who are carried away by the lure or charisma of these leaders, may just fail to objectively understand a different universe, from where they exist. How about Ms. Caitlyn Jenny’s 9:17 AM – 1 June 2015 Twit: [I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me?
Neon- conservative religious values have a place for some people; however, how about others who hardly cares? How about those who maintain that, whether you are atheist, Catholic or Protestant, LGBT, Feminist, Muslim, Jewish or any other religious denomination, you should be welcomed at the table of American Democracy? Some rather pertinent questions from the so-classified outsiders to neo conservative religious groups are: 1) is the 2016 Presidential aspirant, Mike Huckabee, going to force his neon-conservative religious, ethical and social values on all Americans? 2) Can non-religious or ethicist, stand a chance in the meting out of justice under and Huckabee Administration? 3) Will LGBT communities be protected under an avowed antagonist of their lifestyle? 4) Will evangelical religious conservatives prompt decisive geopolitical upheaval across the nation? 5) Given the fact that foreign policies cannot be operated on the basis of religious beliefs and convictions, what alternative strategies will be followed in an era of global religious anarchy and cultural chaos? These are issues that must be resolved by American voters, who may be considering voting for, or contributing to the campaigns of the Reverend Christian Brother from Hope, Arkansas.
Back to Separation of State and Religion. Our constitution mandates the separation of state and religion; the need for a secular state, asking that the social roles of the Church or any other place of religious worship, be distinctly separate, including funding and use of state funds. This definite distinctions, categorized by different groups and sometime nations as secularism, religious liberty or pluralism, is so much part of the foundation of modern day American Democracy, as the apple pie. But many neon-conservative religious groups and aspiring political candidates, national, state and local, are simply incapable of accepting this very distinction. This has important implication for a Presidential Candidacy, or any political office candidacies, built on religious and social conservative values.
Given the fact that a Presidency or its party membership cannot discriminate against a set of people on the basis of their religious affiliation or conviction, and some will like to take it as far as their sexuality, it is very challenging to see a situation where consensus can be built on the narrow interpretation of religion in the lives of all Americans. Further, given the fact that it may be rather difficult to harness enough fellowship or voters, when your presidential campaign message(s) is built on evangelical religious and conservative ethos, it follows that the only alternatives to a campaign like Reverend Mike Huckabee’s, are to depend only on the goodwill of the number of people or voters that share same premises. This could have an adverse impact on the campaign primary results in many states of the union, especially in many religious liberal states as well as conservative ones. For those voters who are tuned to Governor Mike Huckabee’s political campaign messages on neon-conservative religious values, his oratory are God sent. For those in other religions, Jews and Gentiles, the message(s) could be as infuriating as an infringement on constitutionally protected rights.
These considerations, in turn, underline the relative reservation of many political candidates to build their campaign for a political office on the narrow definition of the place of religion in the lives of their constituencies. The narrowness of defining one’s presidential campaign message on an issue or issues that are collectively or disparately divisive is as risky as playing a lotto or bingo at my friend’s neighborhood casino. The disproportionate possibility of losing your chances are greater when your campaign message(s) points finger in the eyes of some indecisive voters, those whose goodwill, you are actively courting or seeking to win the ultimate prize. In effect, the fact that Governor Huckabee has built his campaign on the narrow message of evangelical conservative religious values, puts his candidacy at a disadvantage or risk.
Admittedly, that also implies that he stands greatly to win a windfall from many voters who share his conviction and places their religious values, over and above, party affiliation and or national identity. American voters are independent thinkers and are able to make good choices in their own interest. It is gradually becoming evident than in years to come, the United States will become a more diverse, religious, ethnic, gender, and or sexual orientation society. For the contest of a high profile office as that of US Presidency, aspirants would more or less, have to build a bigger tent, one as inclusive as including the preferences and choices of Ms. Caitlyn Jenner and more; my apologies to the Republican National Conference. The effective result of that accommodation, is the odd of having a better chance at winning the political trophy. The analogy that comes to mind is not that a candidate must not seek to differentiate his campaign messages, but rather, that those messages cannot be as alienating, as to prevent voters from considering their candidacy or creating revolts that could directly or indirectly, undermine the candidacy. Candidate must never forget, the goal is to win general election into the elected office, not make enemies along the way!