Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Rise of a New Christian Conservative Movement

This article in the New York Times highlights what I see happening among evangelicals. There is a new generation of leadership emerging among Christian conservatives. Guys like Joel Hunter, Rick Warren, Tony Campolo and Randy Brinson are creating a Christian political movement that is different from the Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell evangelical movement. I have not decided where James Dobson falls. He has certainly been a leader among evangelicals for a long time but to this point in the presidential campaign he hasn't endorsed a candidate. I believe his silence is telling. He may not be sure where the Christian conservative movement is headed.

Rising up as the leader of this movement is Mike Huckabee. Like him or not, he's here to stay. Fred Thompson tried to put Huckabee in his place regarding the Reagan Coalition during the last presidential debate. And while I understand what he was doing, I think it only served to drive more of a wedge between the republican party and Christian conservatives.

Huckabee may become president, vice president, or neither. But one thing's for sure. He will emerge from the presidential race as the new face of Christian conservatives. Just look at the network of grassroots organizations that he now has access to. Look at the media exposure, his media savvy and his likeability. Fellow republicans may not agree with Huckabee's positions on a number of issues, but one thing is for sure. He has been able to rally this "new religious right" of the republican party like nobody else. No doubt about it. Huckabee is here to stay.


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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Social Conservatives and the Republican Party

Where do social conservatives fit in the Republican Party? I ask this because many, many conservative pundits don't like Mike Huckabee or his brand of politics. The pundits take the position that the republican party has been successfull because of the coalition between social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and those to whom national security is the upmost important. The old three legs of the stool analogy.

The knock against Huckabee is that he only represents one leg of the stool and the other two legs don't like him. The pundits claim that Huckabee can't hold together the republican coalition and will loose to whoever the democratic candidate is. For example, the Club for Growth (Pat Toomey's organization) can't stand Huckabee. They claim he raised taxes as governor of Arkansas. Huckabee disputes the claim and rebuts it with this. Also, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform seems to have taken a softer view toward Huckabee than has the Club for Growth.

The ational security wing of the party has chastised Huckabee for his "arrogant bunker mentality" statement when referring to President Bush's foreign policy. They also point out that Bush's foreign policy has been successful since we haven't been attacked again since 9/11.

Yesterday Governor Huckabee issued this statement regarding the types of judges he would appoint if president. I like his position on this. Appointing conservative judges to the federal courts is very important.

So, if Huckabee can't satisfy all parts of the republican coalition, who can? Romney seems to have shifted positions in recent years to make himself more acceptable to all legs of the stool. Giuliani is strong in national security, okay fiscally, but the social conservatives can't stand him (dispite Pat Robertson's endorsement). McCain is strong in the national security issue, strong in cutting expenses, but opposed President Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. And the social conservatives are queasy about him after what he said during the 2000 presidential campaign. Fred Thompson appeals to all three legs of the coalition but can't gain any traction. Fred said earlier this week that South Carolina is his "firewall" which means that if he doesn't when there, he'll probably get out of the race.

So of McCain, Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee, who will get the nomination? Only Huckabee is appealing to social conservatives. If one of the others gets the nomination, what does that say to social conservatives? And if Huckabee is the nominee, will the FisCons and national security elements of the party stay home on election day? It is a very interesting and trying time for the republican party. Only Fred Thompson has the ability to appeal to all branches of the coalition and if he drops out of the race we may see the coalition falling apart.

On a slightly different front, I ran across a website I didn't even know existed: God Tube. It is a Christian version of You Tube. There is a presidential poll on the front page of the website if you'd like to participate. Huckabee is, to no one's surprise, currently leading the voting.

There is also a website that has a candidate calculator that let's you see which candidate most closely aligns with your beliefs. Try it. You may find the response interesting.

And lastly, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Happily Ever After by Marilyn Griffith. I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy.

UPDATE: Republicans like Hugh Hewitt and Rick Santorum don't think highly of John McCain either. Hugh Hewitt is pushing Mitt Romney -- who keeps finishing second.


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