If there is one thing that Iowa is consistent about it is that they are terrible at choosing the eventual nominee. That is good, because Mike Huckabee would be a disaster of a candidate for the GOP. Mitt Romney had a bad night last night. There is no denying that. And kudos for the Huck team for implementing a winning strategy.
So let’s talk about that strategy. It is reported that the GOP had a turn-out of over 120,000. That is massive. About 80-90,000 were expected. Of those, about 60% were evangelicals; so let’s say about 70,000. And of that 70,000, Huckabee probably won a good 70%. So we are looking at a huge percentage of Huckabee’s final numbers coming from evangelicals. This is all well and good, they are entitled to whom they care to vote for as much as the next person, but it is how they seemingly chose Huck that is disconcerting and we will get to that in a bit.
The Romney campaign is reporting that they got out everyone they were planning on getting out, so if this were a normal turnout caucus, Mitt would have run away with it. So what made this year different?
First, this is a historic election and the most wide open in a long time. More people are personally interested in it, I also think that the fact Hillary is running on the other side helped draw out more voters. This reasoning of a historic election will likely drive voters from all other states, but it makes little sense when one considers the choice of Huckabee.
If the reason turnout was high was because of the elections historic nature, voters likely would have voted more for actually electable candidates like Mitt, McCain, or Rudy. But they didn’t they voted for Huck. So why Huck?
Well, call me a sore loser or a conspiracy theorist or whatever you want, but the only reason Huck was chosen was because of one word: MORMONISM.
Huckabee was the evangelical response to Mormon Mitt Romney. The only way Huckabee could turn out such a massive number of voters is because of the Churches. They have a dedicated following and are extremely well organized. Many of them feel that Huckabee’s rise from such unlikely circumstances indicates that Huckabee is God’s candidate. Many others follow the counsel of their pastors like sheep. I cannot understand how some of those Churches keep their tax emempt status following this charade. Consider this from the Associated Press:
Cradling a cup of coffee on his knee, the Rev. Paul Porter welcomes five neighbors to his home, leads them in a brief prayer and gets down to business.
“We’re here to help electthe next president of the United States,” he says. “He’s a decent, moral man.”
His neighbors nod their heads
“When you go to the caucuses,” Porter continues, “are there any questions about Mike Huckabee that you’re nervous about answering?”
Again, the heads nod.
“Is it the attacks?” he says “Are you worried that he can’t withstand the attacks?”
Nan Cooley, a rail-thin woman who belongs to the Baptist church run by Porter, says yes — she’s worried. “There are a lot of questions, you know.”
So what bothers me from this (and the rest of the article)? First, It is that a Reverend, whose pay is likely tax exempt and whose Church certainly is, is campaigning for a specific candidate with likely no repercussions. If you read the article he basically outlines a list of talking points for the Huck camp and tries to convince his followers to vote for Huck, almost as if they have an obligation to.
But consider this, and this is what really, really gets me mad:
“He’s a decent, moral man.”
“There are some things I disagree with him about, but at the same time when I look at the big picture, I see him as somebody who would be a good, moral president,” he said.”
So why does this make me mad? Because it appears to me that the Pastor is trying to make a distinction between Huck and Mitt, implying that Mitt is not decent, moral, or good. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but its how I feel. I also take this as a direct hit on my faith. You see, what is decent and moral for many pastors and reverends is not just being honest, having integrity, or being a faithful husband and father, no it is being a “Christian” according to their definition. And hence, anyone that would believe in Mormonism, despite their positive characteristics in many respects, are not moral and decent because they are leading souls to hell.
Iowa evangelical leaders made a concerted effort to beat “the Mormon”. That is all there is too it. Because I guarantee that if Mitt were a Baptist or Lutheran or any other “Christian” or protestant religion, Huckabee never would have had his rise and surge, and Mitt would have won Iowa and the nomination in a land slide.
Huckabee is easily the least qualified of all the five major GOP candidates in the field. He is terrible on foreign policy, has a shoddy campaign organization, has been involved in numerous scandals verging on corruption, and did nothing of note as governor of Arkansas. Yet because he was a humble Baptist preacher, he became the figurehead for the evangelical right in Iowa.
Fortunately, Huckabee’s rise will be short lived. He will be hard-pressed to win anything before South Carolina, and that won’t be a shoe in either. However, if the evangelicals in Michigan and South Carolina can mobilize their faithful as Iowa did, he just might come out ok, but I doubt it. If he does it is the end of the GOP and a sad day for America. He will divide the GOP vote and likely lose republican strongholds of Utah, Idaho, and much of the inter-mountain West.
I long for the day when the GOP breaks free from the grip of the religious right. I never felt isolated from the religious community as a Mormon before I started blogging and started actually educating myself. I always knew that Mormons were never accepted and we were considered fringe, but I always thought that Americans and Christians were more open and accepting. Now I am not as sure. I suppose, that I need not fear too much, for I still believe most are welcoming, but there are still too many who are not, and that is sad.