If you keep up with politics, Republican politics especially, you’ve been hearing that Mike Huckabee is hurting John McCain by staying in the contest for the Republican nomination. You’ve read that party strategists are frustrated with Huckabee and party leaders are hinting that it’s time for him to give up and clear the path for McCain.
Now I’m going to tell you how Huckabee’s continuing candidacy is good for the Republican party, and why John McCain should be glad that Huckabee isn’t giving up and dropping out.
Mike Huckabee is consolidating and galvanizing the conservative Christian base of the social conservatives. If he wins, it will be because of the enthusiastic support of this conservative wing of the Republican party. If he loses, he’ll be able to deliver that segment of the party to John McCain, giftwrapped and topped with a big bow.
Huckabee obeys the 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” That means that he doesn’t campaign in a way that’s destructive to John McCain – instead, Huckabee gives McCain credit for his virtues, emphasizes all that’s right with the Republican party, and pushes the party to become more conservative. And as Huckabee has pointed out, when the Republicans are conservative they win. When the Republicans are moderate, they lose.
Huckabee’s continuing candidacy is keeping John McCain in the news. McCain’s handlers and the Republican party could waste this benefit if all they do is complain and criticize Huckabee for providing competition, but if they get back on message and campaign in a positive way, they can take advantage of this situation to avoid being forgotten while Hillary and Obama duke it out on the Democrat side.
Mike Huckabee knows how to lose graciously. If he’s mathematically eliminated before the convention, he’ll make a big show of enthusiastically endorsing John McCain. If the candidates go to St Paul with the endorsement undecided and McCain wins there, Huckabee should be given a prime-time slot for his concession/endorsement, because it’ll be a rousing and persuasive speech.
The Republican party is the party that believes in freedom and liberty. It’s also the party that supports competition as a means to improvement, both in the marketplace and in the public sector. That’s why it’s surprising to hear Republicans say that Huckabee is hurting the party. I suspect that all is said and done, the party will be glad that Huck stayed in until the end – win or lose.
Update: this article has been cited by the Opinionated Catholic blog, in a treatise more eloquent and articulate than my own. Back at you, pal. http://opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com/2008/02/is-mike-huckabee-another-lincoln.html