Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why Huckabee Can't Win

Mike Huckabee wants so badly to be right. Unfortunately, his reflexes as an evangelical preacher are overpowering his political instincts and he's picking on the wrong target.

Waiting until the run-up to the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, Huckabee has unleashed attacks — ranging from subtle to "in yo' face, Dude" — against one particular religion. It happens to be a religion that he can ill afford to alienate. There are nearly six million of us in this country, and we're not likely to vote for anyone who considers us to be "fringe" voters.

Of course, this is not to say that all six million of us will vote intelligently, either. We do have Democrats in the church, after all.

Beyond that, there's the problem of not whether, but how candidates alienate voters. Democratic candidates go out of their way to alienate Republicans (and vice versa) simply based on political alignment. In other words, for as long as Democrats insist on foisting such things as abortion and gay "rights" on us, I will never vote Democrat. Just as Democrats will never vote Republican for as long as we insist on protecting our borders or standing up to school-yard bullies. Such is the natural order of things.

However, when candidates step out of that political arena and directly attack a voter's personal (by which I mean "none of your business" personal) beliefs, they cross a heavily drawn line and there can be no redemption in the mind of that voter. This is Huckabee's sin, and he is now politically irredeemable. Oh, he may have the rabid support of a cluster of Southern Baptists on this attack, but the fallout will be considerable. Given the revelations of his record as Governor of Arkansas ("The Clinton State"), coupled with his deep, abiding bias against the LDS church, he will find that sympathy for his message drops precipitously as we get closer to voting our consciences.

Huckabee chose this particular issue because he perceives it to be Romney's Achilles heel. Ironically, he either forgets (or chooses to ignore) the fact that there are probably just as many people who would not want a preacher of any kind in the White House as there are anti-Mormon voters out there. It's an attack that only serves to make the ex-Governor seem petulant; like a child on the playground that hurls insults at the kids that won't let him play. Childish in the extreme.

The other problem is his intended target. Trying to get Mormons to acknowledge that our faith is in any way inferior to anyone else's has never worked (except in some personal cases) in the 177 years of this church's existence. You can label us anything you like. You can accuse us. You can insult us. You can even drive us from state to state and issue extermination orders against us. But you will never stifle our faith, or impede our growth by so doing. Been there, done that, lost the tee-shirt.

Sorry, Mr. Huckabee. This is not your election to win.

P.S. If I turn out to be wrong, and Huckabee somehow mounts a successful primary-to-nomination run, I will not move to Canada. I will instead vote independent. Not for the Democrat, mind you, but I would for the first time in my personal history be sorely tempted to dilute any vote that Huckabee might otherwise receive. I'm all for eating crow in this case, but I prefer to choose how it's cooked and served.

P.P.S. I also realize that even though there are six million Latter-day Saints living in the United States, only a fraction of that number are eligible to vote. So what? If a candidate cares that little for even one million potential voters, especially for those of his own party, what does that say about the candidate?

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