First, some background, so you know where I’m coming from—and not. In fact, most of this blog will be background, and the following blog will deal more with Mike Huckabee and his opposing candidates.
I have never been into politics, though as a young pastor I saw political awareness and involvement as necessary. Then twenty years ago I had a terrible experience with a well-known politician in our church, who was widely considered by the Christian community to be a David standing against the Goliath of the secular media. (He used that terminology himself.) Unfortunately, he was not what he claimed to be.
As one of his pastors I knew the inside story. One day I heard him speaking on a Christian radio talk show, claiming the elders of his church were totally supporting his campaign for reelection. In fact, we had met with him and counseled him not to run, for some compelling personal reasons involving his family and Christian testimony.
On hearing the program I called my friend and fellow-pastor Stu Weber and said “unless you talk me out of it, I think God wants me to call in and ask him some questions.” Stu agreed, so I called and confronted this man in front of a large listening audience. While I tried to be gentle, I asked him if it was true that the elders of his church had asked him to step down from office due to issues in his personal life. He said that was not true. I said “I’m one of your elders, and it is true.”
To say the least, this was controversial, and I took a lot of heat for it, including from our Christian church attorney (who a year later abandoned his wife and children in an adulterous affair). But it was and is my belief that when someone is a public figure who takes his case to the citizenry, and lies about such things in the name of Christ, it is a church leader’s duty to refute his statements. Correcting a person’s public deception with publicly stated truth trumps the normally good principle of confidentiality.
I tell you this story because I admit this unforgettable experience colored my view of politics, and still tends to make me skeptical when I hear about Christian politicians. (Despite the fact that I know some very good ones.) I’ve often been disillusioned by insincere candidates, including professing Christians, who say whatever people want to hear, revising their message according to their audience.
Today, I am less enthusiastic about political parties than I’ve ever been. I’m a Republican largely because I adamantly oppose abortion. But my concern for the poor, racial justice and the environment—all of which have a strong biblical basis—make me sometimes identify more with the concerns of Democrats (though I don’t always agree on their proposed solutions). But I could never be a Democrat as long as that party remains hostile toward the rights of unborn children. Yes, there are prolife Democrats, but they are a small minority.
And by the way, if I had a choice between voting for a prolife Democrat and a prochoice Republican, I’d vote for the Democrat in a heartbeat. (No, child-protecting and child-killing aren’t the only issues, but I can never regard them as secondary; I might write in a third alternative, but I will never cast a vote for someone who won’t stand up for the right of unborn children to live, yes, even if I agree with them on every other issue.)
I am aware that there are other smaller political parties and though I’ve not chosen to do so, a good case can be made for joining them. My position on conservativism and liberalism is expressed in an article I wrote after the “Republican Revolution” of the mid-nineties, in which I stated that we should neither seek to be conservative nor liberal, just Christian. We should go wherever being a follower of Jesus takes us, regardless of whether it fits a label or a particular political party. There was plenty in that article to make both liberals and conservatives unhappy, and believe me, I heard about it.
I hope it’s become clear to you that there is no danger of this blog or its writer becoming very political! And, frankly, six months ago if you’d asked if I’d be endorsing a presidential candidate I would probably have said “no way,” because I couldn’t envision a candidate I would actually trust. However, God has called us to be good stewards of our opportunities, and to be His representatives in every area. And, contrary to my expectations, there actually is a candidate that I, a political skeptic, believe to be a man of integrity, wisdom, winsomeness, faith and yes, even eternal perspective.
Mike Huckabee has been married to Janet for 33 years. They have three grown children. He was a pastor, then a Baptist denominational leader, when he sensed God’s call into politics. In a 1993 special election, he won the Arkansas lieutenant governor position. He was re-elected to a full term in 1994. The incumbent resigned in 1996 and Huckabee was chosen to take his place as 44th governor of Arkansas; he was then elected to a full term in 1998 by the largest percentage that any Republican has ever received in that state, where less than one in four persons is a Republican. He was re-elected in 2002 for another four-year term. He’s only the fourth Arkansas Republican to be elected to a statewide office since Reconstruction.
In 2005, Huckabee was named one of Governing magazine’s Public Officials of the Year. He also received Time magazine’s recognition as one of the five best governors in America. His school accountability program has proven to be one of the finest in the nation.
I’m not going to list all his positions on issues, but many of them resonate with me. By the way, in voicing my support for Mike Huckabee, I’m doing so as a private citizen, not as the director of Eternal Perspective Ministries. EPM takes no position on a candidate, though we would certainly encourage everyone to vote in accord with biblical principles, which emphasize morality, integrity, character, wisdom and a Christlike spirit of truth and grace.
In my opinion, Huckabee doesn’t just know the words; he knows the music. You can see the authenticity in him. I heard him say, “I do not spell G-O-D G.O.P.” That means he’s a follower of Christ before he’s a follower of the Republican party. He’s not overbearing in his spiritual beliefs, but he never apologizes for them. He’s humble and self-effacing. He’s not in your face, yet he’s firm in conviction. I actually think this guy says what he believes and believes what he says. And I have to say, I don’t think that about most politicians.
He says some things that are unpopular and will lose him votes and he says them anyway—I love the courage that reflects. I recommend you check out a few of Huckabee’s video clips. Here’s an eight minute cross-section of some of his responses at the Republican debates, including to a question about God and evolution.
Read more about Huckabee and his positions at www.mikehuckabee.com. (Hey, he plays in a band, called Capital Offence.) At the recent Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit, participated in by the other major Republican candidates (Democrats declined to attend), Huckabee won more votes from those actually hearing the candidates than all the rest of the field put together. Check out his interview with Charlie Rose, a good use of 50 minutes.
I appreciate Huckabee’s wit, sincerity, intelligence and wisdom. In his interviews, I like that he’s self-deprecating. He’s not an angry conservative. He’s winsome. And I get the feeling he’s not conservative to be conservative. I think he doesn’t care how he looks as much as whether he’s right— how he stands before God first, and people second. And he doesn’t just mouth the words “I’m prolife,” then fail to take measures to defend the unborn from destruction, as many nominally prolife politicians do.
I don’t agree with everything Huckabee says. And I’m sure he’s not the perfect candidate. No one is. But from what I’ve seen, I think he’s head and shoulders above the alternatives in any party. Call it subjective, since I’ve never met him, but I trust him. And I can’t support and recommend people I don’t trust.
While I would hate to be a politician, I have always thanked God for men and women who are called to that. So I thank God for Mike Huckabee. And especially when he labors to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, I feel like the least I can do is support him.
I’ll devote one more blog to this, next week, focusing on whether Mike Huckabee is electable. My answer is, yes, IF those who believe in his positions would just step up and support him. (I confess I get impatient with Christian leaders who withhold support from the best candidates because other candidates, including prochoice ones, are supposedly more “electable.” If we’d just, on the basis of conscience, give support to people of God-honoring conviction instead of withholding it, some of them would become electable.)
Among other things, I’ll say a little bit more about why I don’t support the other candidates, Republican or Democrat. (Then I’ll go back to theological issues, or books, or stories, or tell you more about my grandchildren, or…..)