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January 15, 2008

Huckabee: Constitution Must Be Changed To Conform With "God's Standards"

At Exurban League.

"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards." — Mike Huckabee, campaigning in Michigan last night.

This statement should shock every American to their very core. It is theocracy, pure and simple.

To those evangelical Christians supporting Huckabee, ask yourself this: What if Hillary or Obama said this line while speaking in a left-of-center church? Or Mitt said it to an LDS ward? Rudy to a Catholic assembly, or a Muslim congressman to a mosque? How would you feel if a presidential candidate was promising to revise the Constitution — the foundational legal document of this nation — to comply with the theological dictates of Rome, Salt Lake City or Mecca?

I don't have much of a problem with religion-based policy impulses. All of our impulses come from somewhere, after all, and I don't see why a religious person's core beliefs should affect his worldview less than my own secularist/humanist worldview. The left's insistence that only secular beliefs should impel policy stances is inconsistent but convenient in that it would, if accepted, lead to a secularist-only public polity.

However, I prefer such prescriptions to be couched in secularist terms. There are numerous reasons to be pro-life or pro-traditional-marriage that don't have much to do with religion. It's not deceptive, I don't think, to argue in terms of sound policy, without mention of God, even if, at root, it is a belief in God's will that ultimately leads one to embrace those non-religious rationales for one's positions.

I have little doubt that most pro-lifers believe as they do because God, they think, and not 18th century Jeffersonian political thinking, supports the pro-life position. And yet when arguing about this I strongly prefer arguments which do not explicitly invoke an appeal to the ultimate authority, God Himself.

Is this a distinction without a difference? I don't know, but I'm inclined to think it isn't. An argument based on the physical and moral, and not the metaphysical, can appeal to or possibly persuade all, not only those who believe in a certain interpretation of a particular holy text.

I find Huckabee's express reliance on the What Would Jesus Do style of policymaking 1) alienating, 2) a crass attempt at identity politics, 3) self-defeating, as it loses as many supporters as it gains, and 4) characteristically glib and shallow and lazy. I hope I do not offend any religious readers when I say of all possible policy arguments, "Well this is what God wants and that's all there is to it," is the easiest and laziest of all.

I don't know if this is theocracy per se, but it does seem walking up to that line. I don't mind, not at all, sharing a party with those whose politics are shaped greatly by a belief in God (and a particular belief in what God would deem the Just and Good Society). I have a bit of problem with those who nakedly offer only God's vision of the Just and Good Society (as they see it, at least) as a reason for supporting a policy.

It's also a bit disquieting. As they say, you can't reason someone out of a position he wasn't reasoned into in the first place, that is, you can't use fact, logic, or likelihood to argue someone out of a position that is accepted purely on faith, whether of the religious or quasi-religious sort (global warming, etc.) With Mike Huckabee admitting that his belief as to what God wants is such an outsized part of his political thinking, how on earth would you argue a man out of wrongheaded policy? If it's really what God wants, what have piddling earthly arguments to do with it?

Color me a bit skeptical that Mike Huckabee is now anti-amnesty. After all, just a year or two ago it was What God Wanted to offer illegals in-state tuition and other benefits. I can't imagine that God Himself has changed his mind on this, even though Mike Huckabee claims that he himself, and God Himself, apparently did.

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posted by Ace at 04:18 PM

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