Governor Huckabee, you recently reaffirmed your strong opposition to same-sex marriage and said “If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue.”
If the GOP takes this path, you say “I’m gone, I’ll become an independent.”
Please, do a huge favor for all who want the GOP to become a consistently liberty-loving party: Leave!
As you know, three factions are fighting a civil war for the soul of the party.
Establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney and John McCain want to keep the current big-government welfare state, just tweak it to make it more efficient. The Goldwater-Reagan and libertarian-leaning Republicans believe the current regime is collapsing and must be fundamentally transformed, with radical reductions in government control over our lives and with private options replacing most social welfare programs.
Then there are the extreme social conservatives like you who give priority to an agenda of using government to restrict liberty and to engineer society based on your religious ideology. You are especially obsessed with banning same-sex unions.
But a basic test of a proposed policy is whether it limits the liberty of others or takes their money. Same-sex marriage does neither, and it is presumptuous to use government to dictate what kind of contracts consenting adults can make. Don’t like gay marriage? Then don’t marry a gay. And I would think you, a family values man, would prefer that gays commit to long-term monogamous relationships. Further, how would you even know whether the gay couple down the street has a piece of paper in the bottom of their sock drawer with the letter M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E inscribed on it?
You ask, should government force business folks, against their religious convictions, to provide services at same-sex ceremonies? My consistent pro-individual liberty answer is that government should neither bar gays from marrying nor force others to provide them such services.
But let’s look at the effects of your overall agenda on the GOP. Currently white evangelicals make up a major voting bloc within the party yet a declining portion of the general population. Of voters aged 50 to 64, 29 percent are white evangelicals, while only 11 percent are unaffiliated with a religion. But of voters 18 to 29, only 12 percent are white evangelicals, while a full 35 percent are unaffiliated. And the Millennials not only are more socially liberal in general: some 60 percent of younger Republicans support gay marriage.
Speaking of young people, only 37 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 backed Romney in 2012, down from the 43 percent who backed Bush in 2004. Your agenda would ensure that the GOP lose the voters who will make up the majority in the future.
Three factions are fighting a civil war for the soul of the GOP.
Worse, there is a new class of young entrepreneurs, the Silicon Valley types, who are visionary individualists who love their work, who generally favor a free market system, and who are socially liberal. But few want anything to do with a Republican Party that includes you pushing a religious agenda. You are making them into future Democrats.
If you leave the GOP and take with you some of your more fanatical followers, the young and the entrepreneurial could well find their way into the party’s ranks.
But I doubt you would take with you as many followers as you think. Surveys indicate, for example, that about half of Tea Party members are socially conservative like you and the other half are more libertarian. But the priorities of most Tea Party social conservatives are to stop the growth of the state, of out-of-control spending, and of regulations over every aspect of our lives. They understand that as social conservatives, they will simply see their liberty to live in accordance with their own values further restricted if they tilt at windmills like gay marriage while the “total control” regime in Washington further metastasizes.
By the way, I’m a secular, married heterosexual with two wonderful little fraternal twin daughters. I don’t want them ruled by statist apparatchiks of any party.
In any case, you are not even a limited-government guy in areas where many of your co-religionists are. You spoke positively about federal government-imposed Common Core education standards. Want the feds to apply those to standards to home schooling as well? You were a big-taxing, big-spending governor in Arkansas. As Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller rightly explained in 2012, “[Huckabee] believes that government should play a role in the lives of everyday people and he adopted a sort of populist, anti-capitalism stance.”
It would be best for the GOP and for the country if you and your followers stay in the party and back a pro-liberty, limited government agenda. But if you insist that the GOP back your losing, anti-liberty agenda, chasing away the support of young people and others as the party further declines, it would be best if you leave.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.