Huck’s Army

 Posted by on 14 January 2008 at 6:30 am  Politics, Religion
Jan 142008

The January 13, 2008 New York Times has an interesting article on the split amongst evangelical Christians as to whether to support Mike Huckabee for president (“Huckabee Splits Young Evangelicals and Old Guard“).

In particular, most of the older leadership of the evangelical Christians have chosen not to endorse Huckabee, instead dividing their support amongst the other Republican candidates:

While Dr. Dobson and Mr. Perkins remain on the sidelines, many in the old guard are actively backing Mr. Huckabee’s rivals: Pat Robertson is for Mr. Giuliani, Gary Bauer for Fred D. Thompson, and Paul Weyrich, a founder of the movement, for Mr. Romney. The few national conservative Christian political advocates who have rallied to Mr. Huckabee say they are dismayed by the reluctance of their best-known leaders to do the same.

These are the ones that have some fading attachment to capitalism, even though it conflicts with their explicit Christian philosophy.

In contrast, many of the younger evangelicals are fervently drawn to Huckabee precisely because of his support for the environment and his “populist” economic views. At some level, they recognize that these positions are more consistent with their altruist Christian philosophy:

…Rick Scarborough, an aspiring successor to the previous generation of conservative Christian leaders… recently argued that his allies were wrong to balk at Mr. Huckabee’s turn toward environmentalism and “social justice.”

“Can you imagine Jesus ignoring the plight of the disenfranchised and downtrodden while going after the abortionist?” Mr. Scarborough wrote on the conservative Web site

Brett and Alex Harris, the young evangelicals who created the online network of Huckabee supporters “Huck’s Army” explained:

…[H]e believed in a Christian obligation to care for prenatal “life” and also education, health care, jobs and other aspects of “life.” “It is a new kind of evangelical conservative position,” Brett Harris said.

Huckabee’s appeal has crossed over to many Catholics, for similar reasons:

..[T]he Web site Catholic Online, a hub for dedicated church members, prais[es] Mr. Huckabee’s opposition to abortion rights and his empathy for the poor as consistent with the social teachings of the church.

Although mainstream conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal have correctly categorized Huckabee’s views as “religious left“, that’s entirely all right with these young evangelicals. The NY Times quotes one of them as saying, “Huckabee is a change for the conservative Christian movement, and a welcome one.”

This is yet another instance of the playing out of the principles identified by Ayn Rand in her classic essay, “Anatomy of Compromise” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:

In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

…When two men (or groups) hold the same basic principles, yet oppose each other on a given issue, it means that at least one of them is inconsistent. Since basic principles determine the ultimate goal of any long-range process of action, the person who holds a clearer, more consistent view of the end to be achieved, will be more consistently right in his choice of means; and the contradictions of his opponent will work to his advantage, psychologically and existentially.

Psychologically, the inconsistent person will endorse and propagate the same ideas as his adversary, but in a weaker, diluted form and thus will sanction, assist, and hasten his adversary’s victory, creating in the minds of their disputed following the impression of his adversary’s greater honesty and courage, while discrediting himself by an aura of evasion and cowardice.

Existentially, every step or measure taken to achieve their common goal will necessitate further and more crucial steps or measures in the same direction (unless the goal is rejected and the basic principles reversed) thus strengthening the leadership of the consistent person and reducing the inconsistent one to impotence.

The conflict will follow that course regardless of whether the basic principles shared by the two adversaries are right or wrong, true or false, rational or irrational.

In other words, the less-consistent older evangelicals who still support some diluted form of capitalism, because they (erroneously) believe that their economics follows from their Christian philosophy will eventually lose to the more-consistent evangelicals who (correctly) recognize that their Christian altruist ethics will require government redistribution of wealth, “universal health care”, environmentalism in the name of “Christian stewardship”, etc.

Even if Huckabee does not win the Presidency in 2008 (and I do not believe he has quite enough support to do so), his candidacy will have seeded the ground for a future Christian president much like Huckabee, but who is even more explicit and consistent in his opposition to capitalism and individual rights due to his Christian philosophy. And that is the real danger that Huck’s Army poses today.

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