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And now Mike Huckabee, the Gomer Pyle of unadulterated hatred masquerading as good ol’ religion, has, again, joined the Republican race for the presidency.
Distressed because of the success Ted Cruz has had making inroads to the virulent right wing religious/racist base of the Christian Right, Huckabee made sure to fluff his announcement with the prerequisite xenophobia necessary to show he’s still The One. A little mention of the evils of Islam here, a little homophobic red meat there– Huck’s on the move to shore up those right wing evangelical votes.
The problem is that Huckabee’s all hat and no cattle. While his views and beliefs are as necessarily noxious as needed to be a contender for the right wing’s mainstream political party, his delivery of this message falls apart in its failure to bring the brimstone. The electorate Huckabee would need to win over to secure the Republican nomination isn’t interested in winning- it’s interested in ideological purity.
This is not to suggest that in the intervening years since 2008 Mike Huckabee has not been spewing invective at every opportunity. His weekend television show (on Fox News, naturally) was devoted to serving up unadulterated hate speech with an Arkansas twang. The folksy, good natured tone with which Huckabee served up his poison was cloying, but effective. While Huckabee never achieved the ratings of, say, O’Reilly, it provided healthy exposure. Add to that his alliteratively titled God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy– a tribute to unhealthy diets and belief systems- and you have a man trying to find the best medium for his message.
It’s true that in the past the Republican Party was more interested in their ability to secure national political control than their adherence to the “base.” But in today’s political climate, one which has both seen the election of the country’s first black president and the rise of the barely-hiding-it Neo-Confederate Tea Party, it’s one’s devotion to right wing ideals that matters. Huckabee’s political strategy, reliant on making the vile seem palatable, is now paradoxically out of favor.
Mike Huckabee, much like the upstart Ted Cruz, will not win the nomination out of the Republican Party. Not this time. The Republican Party’s power center is still too influential to allow the lunatics on the ground to decide who gets to try for the Presidency. But if Huckabee isn’t considered ideologically pure enough for the base, you can bet that sooner rather than later the Republican nominee for the Presidency will be the type of right wing zealot that nightmares are made of.
Eoin Higgins is a writer and historian from upstate New York. He is a recent graduate of the Masters in History program at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You can find his work at eoinhiggins.blogspot.com and follow him on twitter @CatharticMe