Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has convinced himself that he still has a chance of becoming President even though his campaign strategy seems to be a culture warrior for all unpopular social positions. The debate itself saw him make his pitch to be the authoritarian theocrat of the United States rather than the President as he systematically demonstrated how he has no real understanding of how the United States government functions. Let’s begin.
Huckabee didn’t say anything for a long time as much of the first part of the debate was taken up by the candidates responding the comments by each other. His first direct question was regarding foreign policy. On Iran he said that Obama was giving Iran $100 billion, which was the equivalent to $5 trillion for America, that Iran was threatening the entire Middle East including Israel, that Iran has been sponsoring Hamas and Hezbollah, and that the next president should tear up the agreement. Now for the fact-checking: Obama isn’t giving Iran $100 billion he, along with five other countries, is unfreezing their assets, Iran’s threats to Israel are purely rhetorical as they are aware that Israel would nuke them if they did anything, and Iran isn’t sponsoring Hamas because Iran is Shia’a and Hamas is Sunni, both of which hate each other.
Huckabee then stood proudly in defence of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who has been refusing to issue marriage licenses to couples because of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage across the country. Huckabee said that the Court “redefined marriage without Constitutional basis”, which is untrue because the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for all US citizens and last time I checked ‘all’ included gay people. He remarked that “we all passed 9th Grade civics: the courts cannot legislate”; it’s therefore lucky that the Courts didn’t, it interpreted the Constitution and determined the legal validity of the ban on same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court didn’t legalise gay marriage because it was legislating, it was legalising by interpreting the Constitution and stating that bans on same-sex couples getting married was against the law, thus these laws a voided. Gov. Huckabee then used this example to ‘prove’ that the United States currently had ‘judicial tyranny’ because the Supreme Court was acting against the Constitution, which is false because it has been interpreting the Constitution.
He concluded his long-winded remarks by saying that an accommodation should have been made so that Davis didn’t have to sign the licenses, an accommodation like those given to the Fort Hood shooter and detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The reason the accommodations given to those people are different to Kim Davis is that Davis is actively denying same-sex couples the Constitutional rights that the Supreme Court have said exists, and that her religious justification is irrelevant as the Constitution prohibits public officials imposing their religious views on citizens. Allowing the Fort Hood shooter to grow a beard and giving prayer mats to inmates in Guantanamo is that those two things, although sharing the religious basis for wanting to do them, do not in any way restrict the liberty of other people; stopping a Muslim man from growing a beard would be unconstitutional because it doesn’t impact upon anybody else and the US has religious freedom in the Constitution.
On economic policy Huckabee said that he wanted to get rid of all taxes on producers and replace it with a tax on consumption, which is incredibly regressive and hits thr poorest much harder than the wealthy. He also said that Reagan was elected by telling the American people how great they were; I don’t really see how such a statement is relevant but I guess if you’re in a Republican debate invoking the name of Saint Ronald is only going to improve your standing.
Huckabee later went on to say that “the US cannot have another eight years of a president who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know”, which epistemologically makes no sense as no person knows what they don’t know; a person can know the basics of something, and Huckabee could be critical of the lack of knowledge of that person, but by definition you cannot know what you do not know because an external source would have to inform you. To prove my point, think of a piece of information that you don’t know… you can’t because ignorance of something is total lack of knowledge; I know that I know very little about quantum physics (I am aware it exists), but I cannot tell you what in quantum physics I don’t know, without requiring more information, and with that information I would cease to be totally ignorant.
On the Supreme Court appointees Huckabee said that he would have a litmus test which was essentially a shopping list of what he thought were good points: being opposed to abortion, supporting Huckabee’s definition of ‘religious liberty’, ‘support’ for the 2nd Amendment, ‘support’ for the 5th Amendment, ‘support’ for the 14th Amendment and ‘support’ for the 10th Amendment. This list would essentially ask any nominee to the Supreme Court if they agreed with the concept of the Bill of Rights, which I would assume all nominees would support; the definitions that Huckabee gives for supporting these parts of the Constitution are a euphemism for only appointing Supreme Court Justices who are ideologically conservative.
Huckabee’s final comments were about how he would “declare a war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s” on the basis that these four cost the most to the US annually. Although I agree that the US government should increase investment in finding cures for these diseases I would caution against the rhetoric that seems to have developed among the political establishment that in order to denote the seriousness of an issue, politicians have to declare war on it.
Overall Huckabee didn’t get the opportunity to speak for very long so many of his policies remain a mystery but his emphasis on social issues shows that Huckabee, if he in the unlikely event became the GOP nominee, would resoundingly lose the general election as numerous polls have shown a majority of support in favour of same-sex marriage, abortion, the rich paying more taxes etc. Therefore we can say with some confidence, and relief, that Huckabee will not be the 45th President of the United States.