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Against Mike Huckabee:

I may not know who I'm for in the Republican presidential race. But I do know one leading candidate I'm definitely against: newly anointed frontrunner Mike Huckabee.

Conservative UCLA law professor Steve Bainbridge, libertarian Cato Institute scholar Michael Tanner, and libertarian-leaning columnist Deroy Murdock present some excellent reasons why anyone who cares about limiting the power of government has every reason to oppose Huckabee's nomination. In addition, the pro-free market Club for Growth gives a strongly negative review of his record on economic policy as Governor of Arkansas, concluding that he holds "profoundly anti-growth positions on taxes, spending, and government regulation." As Bainbridge points out, the libertarian Cato Institute gave Huckabee an "F" on its fiscal policy report card, a worse record than numerous very liberal Democratic governors.

I don't quite agree with all of Bainbridge, Tanner, and Murdock's points. Like Huckabee and unlike Bainbridge, I support the death penalty; like Huckabee and unlike Murdock, I am skeptical of the need to use waterboarding of prisoners as part of the War on Terror. However, the overall picture of Huckabee that emerges is one that exemplifies the worst elements of "big government conservatism." Huckabee combines a predilection for high levels of government spending and economic regulation with an even stronger commitment to nanny state regulation of personal behavior. The latter is exemplified by such positions as his support for a national smoking ban, his advocacy of government programs to prevent obesity, and his enthusiasm for government enforcement of conservative social mores.

To be sure, as I noted in one of my earlier posts on the presidential race, candidates' records are difficult to interpret because many of the positions they take are produced by the political constraints they face rather than by conviction. Perhaps some of the more objectionable elements of Huckabee's record are products of the vagaries of Arkansas politics. Nonetheless, it is telling that in his years as governor of relatively conservative Arkansas, Huckabee posted a significantly more anti-market record on economic policy than did Romney as governor of liberal Massachusetts and Giuliani as mayor of liberal New York City; indeed, his record was worse than that of many liberal Democratic governors of liberal states. It is also noteworthy that Huckabee endorses not only those forms of social regulation that other conservatives embrace (e.g. - cracking down on pornography), but also many of those usually associated with liberals (e.g. - the smoking ban). The latter can't easily be explained by the constraints Huckabee faced in conservative Arkansas.

I'll end on this note: the real danger posed by Huckabee is not so much his potential impact on specific policies as his impact on the future of the Republican Party. As president, Huckabee's policy initiatives will to some extent be constrained by a Democratic Congress and other factors. However, if he attains a reasonable degree of popularity and political success, a President Huckabee would have a freer hand in reshaping his own party in his image. He might be able to complete the work begun by George W. Bush and his congressional allies: the transformation of the Republican Party into a pro-big government party emphasizing populism and social conservatism. At this point, of course, it is still much more likely that the next president will be a Democrat. However, if things continue to improve in Iraq and the economy doesn't go south, there is some chance of a Republican victory. If it does happen, let's hope the lucky beneficiary won't be Mike Huckabee. One big government conservative administration in the 21st century is more than enough.

alias:
"[Huckabee's] commitment to nanny state regulation of personal behavior . . . is exemplified by such positions as his support for a national smoking ban."

I wonder if this is just because it's more feasible than other measures the country might take (private or otherwise) to make smokers bear the costs of their behavior. Lots of uninsured people smoke, and the hospitals continue to treat them...
12.13.2007 9:08pm
Jerry F:
I agree with this post almost completely and Huckabee is one of my two least favorite Republican candidates (though part of me almost wishes that he would do well just so that liberals and Europeans would panic and go crazy at the thought of a U.S. President who doesn't believe in evolution...)

But I think that Giuliani supporters are responsible for a great part of the blame for Huckabee's rise. Giuliani has little in common with social conservatives, just as Huckabee has little in common with fiscal conservatives. By promoting a candidate that alienates half of the Republican Party, Giuliani supporters should have realized that they would get a counter-reaction from the Republicans who feel left out. Many Christians who do not feel particularly strongly about free markets are prone to support candidates who are fiscally conservative so long as these candidates also stand for moral values. If libertarians who do not care strongly about values one way or the other had done the same by supporting a true conservative since the beginning, I doubt that Huckabee would be doing nearly as well as he is today.
12.13.2007 9:13pm
Nessuno:
I think it's fair to say that Huckabee is nearly universally loathed in the conservative internet circle.

He is, without a doubt, the most liberal Republican running for president. He might be the most liberal Republican candidate to have a chance at winning the nomination since before Ronald Reagan.

You can call him a religious progressive or a right wing progressive, but what you cannot call him is conservative. He wishes to use every lever of government to impose his "I know what's best for you" ideas on the American people.

And Ilya is absolutely correct that he would destroy the Republican party. As it is, many of us who generally support Republicans are shocked and disgusted that he has the level of support that he has currently. All I can say is that I hope much of the support is borne from ignorance, and once people learn about his liberalness on immigration, trade, taxes, the nanny-state, crime and punishment, national defense, and everything else the party will come to its senses.
12.13.2007 9:15pm
Jerry F:
Twenty years ago, Huckabee would have been running as a Democrat. He is clearly a good person and (along with Ron Paul) perhaps one of the two most principled Republican candidates, but for all the reasons mentioned he is not a conservative and has. Of course, because of his views on abortion, homosexuality and evolution, Huckcabee would have absolutely no prospects of ever being taken seriously as a Democrat today, but the Democratic Party (despite what Coulter and other conservative commentators say) has not always been opposed to religion, traditionally. This shows a lot about how far the nation as a whole has moved to the left over the past few decades.
12.13.2007 9:21pm
sbron:
Huckabee is even more strongly for open borders I believe than McCain. His immigration policies are no different from Obama's or Clinton's. He also stated that "we" have an opportunity in our attitudes and actions towards Latino immigrants to "make up" for past oppression of Blacks.

It is beyond me how illegal immigrants from Mexico, which is a relatively wealthy, democratic country can lay claim to the same legacy of oppression as those whose ancestors were forcibly brought to the U.S. and enslaved.
12.13.2007 9:21pm
Mr. Liberal:
Well, too bad for you, Republicans don't really have any other good social conservatives that also lean hard right on economic issues. Romney is a flip-flopper, Guiliani supports abortion and is socially liberal, and McCain, despite his combination of fiscal and social conservatism, is disliked by Republicans because he dares to think for himself.

As a Democrat, Huckabee is the only Presidential candidate that I am worried about. Precisely because he is more moderate on economic issues. And he is likable.

On the other hand, if we had to have a Republican President, either Huckabee or McCain would be most acceptable. McCain because he thinks for himself. And Huckabee because real progress on problems important to real people could be made, given his moderate stance on economic issues.

Your concern that Huckabee will take over the Republican party is unwarranted. The Club for Growth and Cato will still be around, regardless. Advocates for weak government that does not do anything to solve the problems of real people will undoubtedly always have a place in the Republican Party.

Finally, I don't understand why you economic conservatives bitch about George W. Bush. He went after social security for goodness sake. I guess making a real attempt to gut social security is not extreme enough for you to consider him a true economic conservative!

Give me a break. Here is the truth. Republicans got trounced in the elections. That is the only reason they are running from George W. Bush. It is not like you didn't know who he was when you nominated him for a second term. He has always been fairly economically conservative. Think about his attempts to abolish the estate tax so that inheritance not merit will have a larger influence over who is at the top of the economic hierarchy. Or his tax cuts which basically benefited the wealthy. And, not to mention, his opposition to tax cuts that could reduce the tax burden to zero for many individuals. I don't understand what about George W. Bush is not elitist enough for you.

It makes sense that George W. Bush would be against having reasonable taxes to prevent inheritance from becoming excessively important in determining who is at or near the top of the economic hierarchy. After all, in a society based on merit, George W. Bush would be either middle class or even lower class (considering his former drinking and substance abuse problems). He certainly wouldn't have the privilege of being the most inarticulate President to ever grace the office.
12.13.2007 9:23pm
rfg:
Your definition of populist is obvioulsy quite different than mine...

My understanding of the term includes things like favoring employees and individuals over corporations and business interests (i.e. favoring the "people"). In my view, the current administration has often done the opposite (bankrupcy law changes for example).

I know little of Mr. Huckabee's record or policies, but I would not consider the present administration to be populist at all. Why do you?
12.13.2007 9:27pm
Mr. Liberal:

I think it's fair to say that Huckabee is nearly universally loathed in the conservative internet circle.

He is, without a doubt, the most liberal Republican running for president.


You are equating "conservative" with "economic libertarian." This is not really the core of conservatism. Consider Alexander Hamilton, a member of the more conservative Federalist Party and someone who had a deep mistrust of the masses and favored the wealthy. Hamilton nonetheless supported a very strong and robust government.

The fact is, libertarians are trying to hijack the term conservative and make belief in economic libertarianism a required attribute. Good luck with that, because there are still plenty of Alexander Hamilton-type conservatives out there. People who believe that government can and should solve problems.

Huckabee is a conservative along the lines of Alexander Hamilton. Not this newer Club for Growth type.
12.13.2007 9:30pm
Lawer-Wearing-Yarmulka (www):
Jonah Goldberg said it perfectly. "Huckabee is the bastard child of Lou Dobbs and Pat Robertson."
12.13.2007 9:40pm
Nessuno:

You are equating "conservative" with "economic libertarian." This is not really the core of conservatism.



No, I'm not at all because my critique of Huckabee (if you read the rest of my post) goes further than Mr. Somin's. At the core of conservatism, however, is the belief in small government and, as Reagan used to say, if you free people from the constraints of government then they flourish. Huckabee believes the opposite; he believes that the government can be used to dictate where and whether you smoke, what you eat, what you learn in elementary school, etc.

Conservatism, obviously extends to individual issues. One can be conservative on some issues, like abortion, and liberal on others, like taxes, which would leave it open to debate about whether one can legitimately claim the mantle of "conservative". But resisting the use of government mechanisms to impose social improvements is fundamental any claim of conservatism.
12.13.2007 9:41pm
Mr. Liberal:

At the core of conservatism, however, is the belief in small government


This is not true. May I present Alexander Hamilton as exhibit 1. John Marshall as exhibit 2. And Antonin Scalia as exhibit 3.
12.13.2007 9:43pm
Jerry F:
Mr. Liberal: True, not all conservatives are necessarily economically libertarian. Some conservatives could, ideally, be monarchists, feudalists, aristocrats or proponents of other societies where the government actively intervenes in the economy to the detriment of the poor and for the benefit of the rich. All of these forms of government intervention no longer have any support today, however. From the perspective of a monarchist or feudalist, a government that is economically libertarian would be closer to the ideal government than any of the forms of government intervention that are being discussed today.
12.13.2007 9:44pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

though part of me almost wishes that he would do well just so that liberals and Europeans would panic and go crazy at the thought of a U.S. President who doesn't believe in evolution..

We're already appalled. The current US President doesn't believe in evolution.
12.13.2007 9:45pm
Ilya Somin:
You are equating "conservative" with "economic libertarian." This is not really the core of conservatism. Consider Alexander Hamilton, a member of the more conservative Federalist Party and someone who had a deep mistrust of the masses and favored the wealthy. Hamilton nonetheless supported a very strong and robust government.

The term conservative as referring to the politics of the 1790s has a very different meaning than as applied to the politics of today. Moreover, Hamilton favored a much more limited federal government than we have today, and even one with much more limited powers than the European states of his own time. He was less libertarian than, say, Jefferson or Madison. But far more than most of the non-American governments of his time.

The fact is, libertarians are trying to hijack the term conservative and make belief in economic libertarianism a required attribute.

Actually, it was the founders of modern American conservative thought - people like Bill Buckley, Frank Meyer, and (in the political arena) Barry Goldwater - who associated conservatism with free markets. I believe that it is very much possible to have an anti-free market conservatism. That is the kind of conservatism represented by George W. Bush and - even more so - Huckabee. However, it's not a form of conservatism that I wish to be allied with in any way, shape, or form.
12.13.2007 9:45pm
Bart (mail):
On a pure horse race level, Huckabee is a godsend for Giuliani. Prior to Hucakbee's rise, it appeared that Romney would take all the early states and Rudy would have to hope that Romney's momentum would not carry into the big states where Giuliani is placing his chips.

However, with the rise of Huckabee, Romney will lose Iowa, barely hang onto NH and then lose SC. There will be no clear front runner by the time we get to Rudy friendly and delegate rich big states like FL. Moreover, Huckabee and Romney are likely to continue the attacks on one another which have already started, leaving Rudy largely unscathed.
12.13.2007 9:46pm
Nessuno:
I should add that "conservative" in the political sense carries with it the idea of the conservative coalition that has been with us for quite a few decades now.

The coalition is made up of economic conservatives (generally, supply-siders and free marketeers), social conservatives (abortion, family values, etc), libertarians (limited government and individual primacy over the state), and foreign policy/national security (strong military, policy based on national interest).

Huckabee is conservative in only one of those areas, social issues.
12.13.2007 9:48pm
Waldensian (mail):

And Ilya is absolutely correct that he would destroy the Republican party.

Too late. W has done a fine job of that already.
12.13.2007 9:54pm
Cornellian (mail):
Huckabee is a social conservative, baptist minister with a degree in Bible studies and absolutely no concern for fiscal prudence, federalism or limiting (let alone reducing) the size of government. In other words, he's the logical inheritor of what the Republican party has become. That he can call himself "conservative" without getting laughed out of the room is symptomatic of how that term has changed so much as to be nearly unrecognizable compared to what it meant in the days of Barry Goldwater.
12.13.2007 9:55pm
Mr. Liberal:

Moreover, Hamilton favored a much more limited federal government than we have today, and even one with much more limited powers than the European states of his own time.


Bill Clinton also favors a government with more limited powers than the European states of Alexander Hamilton's time. So does Mike Huckabee.

What exactly where the limits on, say, the French government's power during the French Revolution? That Alexander Hamilton favored government with less power than that, does not really say much.

The bottom line is that there is an honorable and reasonable conservatism, such as that associated with Alexander Hamilton, that advocates a much more active role for government in solving problems. You may not want to be associated with such a brand of conservatism. You may vociferously disagree with the conservatism associated with Alexander Hamilton. But I don't think you can say it is less than honorable or less than conservative.
12.13.2007 9:55pm
Cornellian (mail):
I believe that it is very much possible to have an anti-free market conservatism.

Most definitely, in fact we see that quite frequently here and elsewhere. The idea that a commitment to free markets is a necessary element of the term "conservative" is by no means universally held.
12.13.2007 9:58pm
Mr. Liberal:
Cornellian:


That he can call himself "conservative" without getting laughed out of the room is symptomatic of how that term has changed so much as to be nearly unrecognizable compared to what it meant in the days of Barry Goldwater.


If it has changed, it has changed back to what it meant back in the days of Alexander Hamilton. And I would say that Mr. Hamilton is not such a disreputable figure that one should automatically repudiate a political belief system that is similar.

So, basically, Barry Goldwater failed to totally hijack and transform the meaning of conservatism. Tragedy, that.
12.13.2007 10:00pm
Mr. Liberal:

I believe that it is very much possible to have an anti-free market conservatism.


One other thing. Alexander Hamilton neither against markets nor was he an economic libertarian. I suppose it is possible to have an anti-free market conservatism. But neither Mike Huckabee or Alexander Hamilton nor any significant block of the Republican Party can be fairly classified as anti-market.

It is not true that anything that is not economic libertarian is equivalent to anti-free market.
12.13.2007 10:04pm
Sean Hirschten (mail) (www):
This is getting a bit off topic perhaps, but does Huckabee really have a chance in Iowa? He's got no money and no organization. He'll have to rely on 20,000 people getting off their evangelical heinies on what'll probably be a bitter cold night to go to neighbor's houses and high-school gyms and what-not and stand around and "caucus" for several hours.

Consider me skeptical. I think Romney's money and organization may pay off for him. We keep seeing all these polls of Iowa voters, but it's not a primary they have out there, it's a much more bizarre pain in the ass kind of thing. It requires a lot of time and effort (relatively speaking) to caucus, a lot more than to vote in a primary. Organization wins, and Huckabee just ain't got none.
12.13.2007 10:08pm
wooga:
All this squabbling about the meaning of "conservative." Why don't we just label Huckabee what he is: a "Statist." Whether you think statism and conservatism are mutually exclusive or overlapping, the point is that Huckabee is the only statist in the Republican race. And for that reason, he is rightly despised and ridiculed by all but the mouth breathers.
12.13.2007 10:09pm
another_townie (mail):
The best part about Huckabee is that he finally reveals what conservative Christians have long thought feared about the unholy alliance with "fiscal libertarians." The fiscal libertarians don't want the conservatives Christian to have a real say in the party -- that is a party that reflects the principles of their beliefs -- rather they want them to "sit down, shut up, and vote for wall st. candidates" even when those candidates clash with the shared Christian values of most fundamentalist &pentecostals. Remember conservative Christians and not the coastal moneymen, like Rudy &Mitt, form the backbone of Red State America.
12.13.2007 10:18pm
Mr. Liberal:

He was less libertarian than, say, Jefferson or Madison.


Just a side thought. I wonder if all the founders you would claim to were "more libertarian" were also owners of slaves. I can actually see a parallel between the moral blindness of these two founders and modern day libertarians.

Not that I am conceding that Jefferson and Madison were libertarian or even very close to being libertarian. But I do think it is an interesting observation nonetheless. Jefferson and Madison were such fervent advocates of freedom from the dangers of government, even as they ignored the private sector threat to freedom known as slavery. I think that libertarians today also ignore threats to freedom arising from non-governmental sources.
12.13.2007 10:19pm
Mr. Liberal:
wooga,

I take it you also despise Alexander Hamilton, because, based on your definition, he would also be a statist.
12.13.2007 10:20pm
Mr. Reasonable:

As Bainbridge points out, the libertarian Cato Institute gave Huckabee an "F" on its fiscal policy report card, a worse record than numerous very liberal Democratic governors

These sorts of measures are pretty much worthless as indicators of how Huckabee might handle fiscal policy at the national level. I think we can all agree that the fiscal exigencies of a poor, Southern state are different than those that might be addressed at the national level.

If that's not enough, here's something to chew on. How did CATO judge former Governors Bush and Clinton?
Bush: B (4th highest rating)
Clinton: D
12.13.2007 10:22pm
Bama 1L:
If the Club for Growth, Cato Institute, and various libertarian bloggers want to cut loose the Republican base, then I admire their principled stand and wish them well. I'm just not sure the small government folks would get to keep the labels "conservative" and "Republican" after the split--or would win any elections.
12.13.2007 10:25pm
Waldensian (mail):

Jefferson and Madison were such fervent advocates of freedom from the dangers of government, even as they ignored the private sector threat to freedom known as slavery.

The paradox you identify has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly investigation. Here's the seminal work.
12.13.2007 10:30pm
Ilya Somin:
Jefferson and Madison were such fervent advocates of freedom from the dangers of government, even as they ignored the private sector threat to freedom known as slavery.

Slavery was established and enforced by the government. It was not a purely "private sector" threat to freedom. Moreover, both Jefferson and Madison denounced slavery in pretty vehement terms. It is also true that they personally owned slaves and that they didn't do nearly as much as they should have to work towards slavery's abolition. However, that had little to do with their quasi-libertarian ideology and everything to do with narrow self-interest and political calculation. Hamilton and the Federalists also didn't do very much to abolish slavery in the South (in the northern states, both Jeffersonians and Federalists generally supported abolition of slavery within their states).
12.13.2007 10:32pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Huckabee is the only one out there that could make me vote for Hilary, and that's saying something. Hilary, at least, I know is a total hypocrite who will only watch the polls, and ultimately will be completely ineffective. Huckabee would probably be just as ineffective on his ridiculous social ideas, but would no doubt be able to put together an unholy coalition to further increase the size of government, and the mass quantities of pork.
12.13.2007 10:33pm
Cornellian (mail):
If the Club for Growth, Cato Institute, and various libertarian bloggers want to cut loose the Republican base, then I admire their principled stand and wish them well. I'm just not sure the small government folks would get to keep the labels "conservative" and "Republican" after the split--or would win any elections.

And a party consisting of big government evangelicals will win plenty of elections - in Alambama and a few other southern states, and probably Utah, but nowhere else, certainly not any national elections.
12.13.2007 10:33pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Mr. Liberal:

With conditions the way they were at the founding of the republic, the country needed statists to survive. That doesn't mean that, under all conditions, increasing the size of the state is good. So, Hamilton and Marshall were statists at a time when the Federal gov't needed more power. And you can admire them without necessarily also having to admire, say, Stalin.
12.13.2007 10:39pm
SIG357:
Libertarian-leaning columnist Deroy Murdock is, I believe, supporting Rudy Giuliani. And Rudy Giuliani is one of the few people out there who gives Huckabee a run for his money in the anti-libertarian sweepstakes.

Not only is he no libertarian, it's doubtful that Giuliani is much of a fiscal conservative. He opposed George Pataki as governor of New York, on the grounds that he might cut taxes!

Nowdays, of course, Rudy takes credit for the taxes Pataki cut.
12.13.2007 10:41pm
JonC:
I think those of us who consider themselves conservative should take up Mr. Liberal's implicit call to re-establish the only true form of American conservatism that has ever or will ever existed, Hamiltonianism. First order of business: electing ourselves a monarch!
12.13.2007 10:44pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
I also don't have a good feeling about Huckabee. Out of the whole crop of republican candidates, I like Thompson but am disappointed at how he has run his campaign which has tempered some of my initial enthusiasm. I like Tancredo and Hunter, but sadly they have no chance at the nomination. I guess I could probably vote for either Romney or Giuliani if they were the nominee. I will never ever ever vote for McCain, and Huckabee is a loser in the general election if nominated (just not for the same reasons I would not support him).

Maybe Thompson will wake up and get to work. He was the only politician I have ever seen state what we all know to be true. That the single biggest obstacle to improving public schools is the NEA. That alone makes Thompson a superstar. Another of the big obstacles to fixing government functions such as public schools is the absolute idiotic decision by the Supreme Court long ago that held a job for a government agency was a property right imbued with all sorts of constitutional protections no other person's job in the country has. That decision has sponsored more mischief, waste, fraud, and unaccountability in government than is commonly imagined.

Gary
12.13.2007 10:45pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
So now we'll get to see if the evangelicals really control the elections as they have claimed. (Well, at least Ted Haggard said it!)

Although I agree with Bart that Huckabee's rise is good for Guiliani. Romney needs to start the ad blitz now.
12.13.2007 10:45pm
SIG357:
Cornellian

"The idea that a commitment to free markets is a necessary element of the term "conservative" is by no means universally held."




I agree, in general. But I also think that what a commitment to free markets means in practice is something of a gray area. A lot of modern libertarians would regard Hayak as a bit of a statist, IMO.
12.13.2007 10:46pm
JonC:
Apologies for the grammar errors...I'm a little punchy from studying for finals all day...
12.13.2007 10:46pm
SIG357:
"I guess I could probably vote for either Romney or Giuliani if they were the nominee. I will never ever ever vote for McCain"



I'm curious as to why you would consider McCain unacceptable, but not Giuliani. It appears to me that Rudy has all of McCain's flaws with respect to CFR and so on, and several others McCain is lacking.
12.13.2007 10:49pm
SIG357:
"both Jefferson and Madison denounced slavery in pretty vehement terms. It is also true that they personally owned slaves and that they didn't do nearly as much as they should have to work towards slavery's abolition. However, that had little to do with their quasi-libertarian ideology and everything to do with narrow self-interest and political calculation."




If that was intended as a defense of Madison and Jefferson, than no offence but I don't want you as my lawyer.
12.13.2007 10:52pm
SIG357:
Jerry F

"But I think that Giuliani supporters are responsible for a great part of the blame for Huckabee's rise. Giuliani has little in common with social conservatives, just as Huckabee has little in common with fiscal conservatives."



It's a widespread shorthand description of the candidates that Giuliani is socially liberal and fiscally conservative, while Huckabee is socially conservative and fiscally liberal.

My own opinion is that this gives each man too much credit. Neither man has a libertarian bone in his body, and neither is much of a small government guy.
12.13.2007 10:58pm
frankcross (mail):
I wouldn't worry so much. As Ilya notes:

"candidates' records are difficult to interpret because many of the positions they take are produced by the political constraints they face rather than by conviction"

Which refutes some of the concerns of his post. Any Republican presidential nominee will have to be pretty economically conservative, because of those political constraints. Huckabee may be slightly less so than others but I doubt he will make much transformation in the party. I think the case for Huckabee is that he is strong on the campaign trail -- a Republican Clinton.
12.13.2007 11:01pm
Hoosier:
"After all, in a society based on merit, George W. Bush would be either middle class or even lower class (considering his former drinking and substance abuse problems)."

So . . . "Mr. Liberal"(!) believes that in a "society based on merit," there would be a lower class comparable to our current lower class. And that the stratification would be based on personal behavior and choices.

Now this is a step in the right direction!
12.13.2007 11:05pm
alkali (mail):
The current Republican party line seems to be that anyone who would ever dare utter the words, "We needed more money to maintain the highways, so we raised the gas tax" must certainly be a Stalinist. That level of absolutism makes rational discussion of public policy impossible. Given those constraints, I don't really have any idea whether Huckabee is actually fiscally reckless or whether he just deviated from the official Republican antitax dogma in some rationally defensible way.
12.13.2007 11:05pm
SIG357:
JonC, at the risk of overreacting to what may have been a joke, I just want to say that Hamilton never supported the idea of a monarchy.
12.13.2007 11:13pm
Hoosier:
Spoke too soon?

Mr. Liberal--The Federalist Party was the "more conservative party"? How so? One just can't speak of the First Party System on the right/left axis. It makes no sense.

Having said that, I do believe that we can identify the most conservative of the major founding fathers: Jay. Which is evidence for the earlier assertion that "it is very much possible to have an anti-free market conservatism."
12.13.2007 11:14pm
Amanda (mail):
Huckabee has been a strong supporter of immigration, the effects of which are now being seen in northwest Arkansas, in places like the Tyson's chicken plants. That's a point that should be counted under the 'economics' category as well, and in his favor from a conservative, rational economics perspective.


And "traditionally conservative", as a description of Arkansas, masks much. I say this as someone whose parents, grandparents, and great-ngrandparents are from Arkansas. Arkansas tends to rank somewhere between 45 and 50th in rankings of healthy, amount of learning that occurs in school, etc. It's certainly a conservative state, no doubt about that. But it's also a state where people are looking for some method to move up in the national rankings, to put more space between them and Louisiana and Mississippi. At this point, experimentation looks intriguing.

Also, remember that though the state is fairly conservative, the Republican Party is fairly week. When Senator Lincoln (D-AR) was up for re-election, the state party had a hell of a time finding a credible candidate to run against her. Body-for-body, the Democrats hold a tremendous advantage in the state, and in the state legislature. So, you ought expect any initiative that gets past the legislature and the governor's desk to be something that the conservative Democrats would have passed. How do you expect the governor of Arkansas to pass something that the NYC or Massachusetts folks wouldn't?
12.13.2007 11:17pm
PaulK (mail):
Not going to read all this above, but I thought I would just add that it makes me a bit sad that Huckabee has such a lousy record on size-of-government issues. I saw him talk at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and was mightily impressed. But I agree that the last thing we need is another borrow-and-spend Republican.
12.13.2007 11:35pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Well, Ilya, everything you say against Huckabee is true, but he is in favor of continuing to bomb citizens of foreign lands, so at least he doesn't have that nasty Ron Paul problem...
12.13.2007 11:40pm
kdonovan:
I'm not sure how socially liberal Giuliani is. On abortion and gay rights he is pretty liberal but on issues like pornography and blasphemous art he was pretty conservative, especially for NYC. He was also pretty conservative on public order issues (homeless, squeegee-men, street crime, etc.), or on the law and order side of things anyway. I suspect he would also attempt to appoint SC justices who would be to the right of Anthony Kennedy on most social issues.
12.13.2007 11:45pm
Joshua:
Ilya Somin missed what would have been the perfect title for this post:

"I Heart-with-Circle-and-Slash-Through-It Huckabee"

Which pretty much sums up my view of that candidate too.
12.14.2007 12:19am
MarkField (mail):

Slavery was established and enforced by the government.


This was, of course, Stephen Douglas's argument later on. It wasn't true then and didn't become true in hindsight. Yes, there were laws supporting slavery in VA, but slavery began there with no laws supporting it and continued for quite some time in that situation. Similarly, slavery moved into other states without much or any legal support. It was not about right, it was not about law, it was about power.


Hamilton and the Federalists also didn't do very much to abolish slavery in the South (in the northern states, both Jeffersonians and Federalists generally supported abolition of slavery within their states).


That's a pretty unfair "criticism" considering (a) the state-centered government of the time, and (b) the fact that Hamilton and the Federalists (especially Jay) were instrumental in abolishing slavery in the North.


The Federalist Party was the "more conservative party"? How so?


While we have to be careful with terms like "liberal" and "conservative", it's probably fair to say that the party which opposed the French Revolution can fairly be described as "conservative".
12.14.2007 12:30am
Jmaie (mail):
Finally, I don't understand why you economic conservatives bitch about George W. Bush.

Medicare prescription drug plan...
Department of Education spending increases...
Steel tariffs...
Farm subsidies...
Tax breaks to oil companies...

Trillions of reasons to bitch.
12.14.2007 12:38am
Jmaie (mail):
Should be -

Mr. Liberal said, "Finally, I don't understand why you economic conservatives bitch about George W. Bush."

Medicare prescription drug plan...
Department of Education spending increases...
Steel tariffs...
Farm subsidies...
Tax breaks to oil companies...

Trillions of reasons to bitch.
12.14.2007 12:46am
Dan28 (mail):

The coalition is made up of economic conservatives (generally, supply-siders and free marketeers), social conservatives (abortion, family values, etc), libertarians (limited government and individual primacy over the state), and foreign policy/national security (strong military, policy based on national interest).

And now here is the problem that Republicans have. There has never really been much of a connection between the social conservatives and the others. There's nothing about being an economic or national security conservative that would naturally cause you to be pro-life, or against gay marriage, etc. The alliance rather was always political; the only thing that the different conservative groups have in common is resistance to the liberalism of particularly the 1960s. I'll support your pro-life justices if you support my dismantling of the regulatory state, etc. That's the alliance that has caused this country to become progressively more conservative over the past few decades.

Only now, the two most prominent candidates for the Republican nomination split that coalition apart. I've still never understood why GOP party insiders (who, lets face it, are often not from the social conservative wing) thought they could get away with nominating Giuliani to head a party in which much of the base considers abortion a moral sin comparable to slavery (not to mention the cross dressing, the adultery, the open tolerance of homosexuality, etc). It was nuts to even consider him, and I think it suggests that the Club for Growth types aren't really in touch with the bulk of their party.

The social conservative dissatisfaction with the major candidates lay dormant for a while, but once they heard a politician speaking their language - and Huckabee is an absolutely terrific speaker of their language - the meme caught fire and Huckabee rose from out of nowhere even without any money to spend. He's tapping into a pretty big resevoir of resentment inside the Republican base. And in supporting him, social conservatives are declaring their intention to take over the party.

The Republican Party has got to comprimise on one of the other candidates - Romney, I suppose. If this becomes a two person race between Giuliani and Huckabee, the GOP will be screwed no matter which they choose.
12.14.2007 12:53am
David M. Nieporent (www):
This was, of course, Stephen Douglas's argument later on. It wasn't true then and didn't become true in hindsight. Yes, there were laws supporting slavery in VA, but slavery began there with no laws supporting it and continued for quite some time in that situation. Similarly, slavery moved into other states without much or any legal support. It was not about right, it was not about law, it was about power.
Without much or any legal support? So what happened when those held in slavery sued and/or filed criminal charges against their owners for kidnapping, assault, etc.? Since slavery had no legal support, they won those suits and were freed, right?
12.14.2007 1:15am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Libertarian-leaning columnist Deroy Murdock is, I believe, supporting Rudy Giuliani. And Rudy Giuliani is one of the few people out there who gives Huckabee a run for his money in the anti-libertarian sweepstakes.


Maybe in the eyes of the libertines for whom drug legalization and pornography are the be all end all, but on the substantive issue of libertarianism -- school choice, consumer driven health care, reforming entitlement programs, and reducing dependency on the Nanny State; Giuliani has taken (and held) almost all of the right positions.
12.14.2007 1:55am
Hoosier:
"While we have to be careful with terms like "liberal" and "conservative", it's probably fair to say that the party which opposed the French Revolution can fairly be described as "conservative"."

With regard to the French Revolution. And even then--and most notably--can the Rockingham Whigs fairly be described as "conservative"?
12.14.2007 2:04am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The coalition is made up of economic conservatives (generally, supply-siders and free marketeers), social conservatives (abortion, family values, etc), libertarians (limited government and individual primacy over the state), and foreign policy/national security (strong military, policy based on national interest).


That's a pretty good overview of the conservative coalition. IMO there are going to be three major issues that the next President is going to have to deal with in his first term (1) continuing to remain on offense on the War, (2) begin dealing with the entitlement program mess as the first of the baby boom generation begin to retire before it consumes the entire budget and (3) appoint probably two or more justices to the Supreme Court.

On the War, I don't doubt that any of the Republicans with the exception of Ron Paul is going to be committed to winning it. Huckabee fracked up with his comments about Gitmo and while McCain has been (unfairly IMO) criticized for his comments on interrogation, he has been objectively more hawkish than Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld.

On entitlement programs, nearly all of the candidates has stressed the need for reforming Medicare and Social Security before the baby boom generation begins to retire and bust the budget. McCain, Hunter, Tancredo, and Paul each voted against Medicare Part D and Romney was vocally critical of it at the time. The only week link I see as Huckabee who was in favor of further expanding SCHIPS and putting even more people on the public dole.

On judges -- and this BTW is the be-all end-all for most social conservatives* - pretty much any Republican president is going to be picking their judicial nominees from a particular pool of legal talent just any Democrat president will be picking their judicial nominees from a pool of their talent. While no one can really predict who would be nominated, much less how s/he would vote on a particular case that would come before them (something the judicial canons correctly prohibit them from saying), there are enough differences on the aggregate between the two respective pools that conservatives would want it to be a Republican making the selection. In the case, I would say that even a somewhat more socially liberal Republican like Giuliani who says the right things about judicial nominees could be acceptable to social conservatives regardless of their personal differences on certain issues.

* Not that judicial nominees aren't important to the entire base.
12.14.2007 2:16am
Perseus (mail):
Speaking as Hamiltonian (broadly speaking), I bristle at the comparison of Huckabee to Hamilton.

Certainly Hamilton favored a relatively robust federal government as compared to his political opponents (motivated largely by his fear of a dissolution of the Union), but he wasn't interested in having the federal government waste much of its time or resources on issues that states and municipalities are better suited to handle (e.g., smoking bans, arts education in primary schools, midnight basketball, etc.). As he argued in Federalist 17: "The regulation of the mere domestic police of a State appears to me to hold out slender allurements to ambition. Commerce, finance, negotiation, and war seem to comprehend all the objects which have charms for minds governed by that passion." Of course, Hamilton, who was far more keen on promoting the "dignity" and "splendor of the national government," vastly underestimated the petty ambitions of politicians like Huckabee. Moreover, Hamilton favored an energetic federal government, not a big federal government as such (and I suspect that even Hamilton would agree that the federal government's current size is sapping its ability to be energetic in pursuing its most important tasks).

In the realm of economics, while Hamilton rejected laissez-faire in favor a more mercantilist or corporatist policy mainly directed at aiding defense and "sunrise" industries, he also vehemently denounced the sort of demagogic rhetoric and economic policies favored by Huckabee, who has criticized windfall profits, supported price controls to prevent price gouging, endorsed a higher minimum wage, etc.

Huckabee's blend of economic populism and social conservatism strikes me as more reminiscent of William Jennings Bryan (Huckabee: "no excuse" for price gouging, no smoking, and no evolution. Bryan: no "crucify[ing] mankind upon a cross of gold," no drinking, and no evolution).
12.14.2007 2:33am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Maybe in the eyes of the libertines for whom drug legalization and pornography are the be all end all, but on the substantive issue of libertarianism -- school choice, consumer driven health care, reforming entitlement programs, and reducing dependency on the Nanny State; Giuliani has taken (and held) almost all of the right positions.
Drug legalization has nothing to do with being libertine for most libertarians. For most libertarians, drug legalization is one of the most substantive issues of libertarianism, because the war on drugs is the greatest threat to civil liberties in the United States. There are a couple of hundred people in Gitmo; there are a couple of million people in regular prison. The third amendment is about the only one not regularly abrogated by the government in its losing, but obscenely expensive, fight against unpopular drugs.

You simply can't be a libertarian and not favor drug legalization.
12.14.2007 3:58am
Pluribus (mail):

Similarly, slavery moved into other states without much or any legal support. It was not about right, it was not about law, it was about power.


This grossly oversimplifies the history. Every slave state had a "slave code" particularly regulating the institution and the relationship between slaves, free blacks, and whites. And the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, followed immediately by the enactment by Congress of the fugitive slave law, provided further legal enforcement. Slavery was not a personal relationship. It was a legal institution, enforced by the full force of the law. Without law, Dred Scott could merely have moved away. With it, he had to endure years of painful (and ultimately unsuccessful) legal efforts to secure his freedom. Look at the Confederate constitution and see how much slavery depended on legal enforcement.
12.14.2007 7:33am
Pluribus (mail):
The characterization of Hamilton as a conservative tells me more about how the terms conservative and liberal have been transformed in current political life than about Hamilton himself. Hamilton was one of the leaders in replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, which gave the federal government powers of taxation, control of the currency, and regulation of interstate commerce. He created the Bank of the United States to provide some fiscal integrity to government which had formerly wallowed in debt. And he was an abolitionist in his home state of New York. All of these initiatives represented massive changes in the existing order. Is it fair to label a politican who advocates change a conservative?
12.14.2007 7:45am
tarheel:
We're going to see this year if the religious right and the economic right can peacefully co-exist. My Magic 8-ball says, "Doubtful."

If Huckabee is the nominee, I don't see how the Club for Growth and Grover Norquist can walk back some of their rhetoric (if they would even try to, that is). If Giuliani is the nominee, I just don't see evangelicals turning out for him (especially after 3 months of negative ads that practically write themselves). The fast rise of Huckabee in Iowa has already made clear how the religious right feels about Romney as front-runner. Thompson and McCain might have been good consensus candidates, except Thompson seems barely awake (and not at all interested) and McCain didn't get on the Tancredo train early enough.
12.14.2007 7:54am
markm (mail):
Hamilton wasn't a conservative. The conservatives of that period opposed the Revolution. In 1787, they were moving to Canada rather than helping write the Constitution. And the things Huckabee is proposing such as a national smoking ban wouldn't have passed the laugh test with any of the founding fathers.

Huckabee, McCain, Guiliani, and Romney all seem to basically mistrust freedom, and will increase the size of the federal government while pretending they aren't. Nominating any of them will drive the moderate libertarians right out of the Republican party. That doesn't mean they'll vote Democrat. The Democrats absolutely love a larger federal government, and also keep nibbling away at freedom.
12.14.2007 8:22am
Donkus:
I've got a campaign slogan of Huckabee:

"Small Mind, Big Government"

I think that sums things up quite well...
12.14.2007 8:59am
JimSaco (mail):
I think of Huckabee as a Populist who is dangerously ill-informed on many issues, especially foreign affairs.

On the plus side for the Republicans, they got a gay bashing amendment on the ballot in Florida for 08. So it'll all come down to Ohio again.
12.14.2007 9:45am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

We're already appalled. The current US President doesn't believe in evolution.
Like a near majority of the U.S. population. And a fair number of those benighted sorts are permanent members of the Democratic Party, many of whom will be voting for Obama in the next few weeks.
12.14.2007 10:30am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Mr. Liberal writes:

Just a side thought. I wonder if all the founders you would claim to were "more libertarian" were also owners of slaves. I can actually see a parallel between the moral blindness of these two founders and modern day libertarians.

Not that I am conceding that Jefferson and Madison were libertarian or even very close to being libertarian. But I do think it is an interesting observation nonetheless. Jefferson and Madison were such fervent advocates of freedom from the dangers of government, even as they ignored the private sector threat to freedom known as slavery. I think that libertarians today also ignore threats to freedom arising from non-governmental sources.
Keep in mind that Jefferson didn't free his slaves because the law did not allow it.

Until 1782, Virginia law prohibited masters from freeing their slaves. When Jefferson was first elected to the House of Burgesses, he seconded a motion to allow masters to free their slaves--and never forgot the ferocious attacks the mover of that bill received. At this point, Jefferson was a wealthy man, and had the bill passed, could have (and probably would have) freed many of his slaves, as other masters after the Revolution in Virginia, like Robert Carter, who freed five hundred of his slaves in 1792. There are also large numbers of masters during this period who either sell their slaves their freedom at very nominal prices, or provide for testamentary manumission (as Washington did, for an interesting reason that actually reflects well on him).

After 1782, Jefferson was free to free his slaves--but now he could not lawfully do so because he was so deeply in debt. There are instances from the 1780-1820 period where Virginia slaves who had been freed were re-enslaved to cover the debts of their former masters.

See chapter three of my book Black Demographic Data, 1790-1860 (Greenwood Press, 1997).
12.14.2007 10:38am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
MarkField writes:

It wasn't true then and didn't become true in hindsight. Yes, there were laws supporting slavery in VA, but slavery began there with no laws supporting it and continued for quite some time in that situation.
You are making a claim for which the evidence is simply not available. The details of early Virginia with respect to slavery are simply not sufficient. We think that the first "slaves" in Virginia were apparently treated more like indentured servants than chattel, because some of them show up in the records as masters within a few years--and one of the first instances of a court ordering a black man to be a lifelong slave was at the request of a black man who wanted him punished for repeatedly running away. But there is still considerable argument about whether Virginia created its slave codes ex nihilo or from Anglo-Saxon slave codes that had fallen out of use after the Norman Conquest. (They certainly weren't based on Roman law models.)

There are 1639 and 1640 Virginia statutes that first distinguish whites and blacks with respect to militia duty. There are later laws that formalize the institution of chattel slavery. But we don't know if those laws were the first laws passed, or the first laws that we have clear records of. Virginia's early statutory law is far more incomplete than reading Hening's.

EVERYWHERE in America, slavery required enormous governmental inputs. Slave patrols throughout the Colonial period, for example, exist because governments ORDERED people to participate. Laws prohibiting slaves from being armed, laws prohibiting teaching slaves to write, laws punishing whites for marrying blacks, laws refusing to recognize interracial marriages--it was a massively liberal infusion of government power to create and maintain slavery.

You may find my books Black Demographic Data, 1790-1860 and Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie enlightening.
12.14.2007 10:51am
huh?:
How completely random and misguided of Mr. Liberal to compare Huckabee to Hamilton. Poor Hamilton must be rolling in his grave. Also, it seems bizarre to use Hamilton (or the federalists) as a model of conservatism.
12.14.2007 10:52am
Carolina:
David Nieporent:


Drug legalization has nothing to do with being libertine for most libertarians. For most libertarians, drug legalization is one of the most substantive issues of libertarianism, because the war on drugs is the greatest threat to civil liberties in the United States. There are a couple of hundred people in Gitmo; there are a couple of million people in regular prison. The third amendment is about the only one not regularly abrogated by the government in its losing, but obscenely expensive, fight against unpopular drugs.


Very well said.
12.14.2007 11:31am
Carolina:
Oh, and as to Mike Huckabee, I am 34 years old and have never voted for a Democrat in a national election in my life. If Huckabee is the Republic nominee, I'm sending checks to the Democratic party.

Huckabee is simply repellent. Someone who wants to use the full power and authority of the federal government to issue dictats on personal issues like smoking. All for our own good, of course.

CS Lewis said the following:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Huckabee is C.S. Lewis' bete noir come to life, gearing up to torment us all without end.
12.14.2007 11:36am
Mark Field (mail):

Without much or any legal support? So what happened when those held in slavery sued and/or filed criminal charges against their owners for kidnapping, assault, etc.? Since slavery had no legal support, they won those suits and were freed, right?


You have a rather strange image of the American frontier.


With regard to the French Revolution. And even then--and most notably--can the Rockingham Whigs fairly be described as "conservative"?


Fair enough, in a way. But since Burke's Reflections pretty much defined the word "conservative" for the next 150 years or so, I'd say yes. What happened in England is that the French Revolution drove many former "liberals" onto the "conservative" side (a side they helped define). Only the radicals supported the Revolution. In the US, which was less directly involved, you didn't see the same extreme sortation. So yeah, I still think it's fair to describe Madison and Jefferson as "liberals" and Adams and Hamilton as "conservatives". I'd note that this was the common division through at least the 60s and that conservatives such as Buckley were happy to adopt Adams as their American patron saint.


This grossly oversimplifies the history. Every slave state had a "slave code" particularly regulating the institution and the relationship between slaves, free blacks, and whites. And the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, followed immediately by the enactment by Congress of the fugitive slave law, provided further legal enforcement. Slavery was not a personal relationship. It was a legal institution, enforced by the full force of the law. Without law, Dred Scott could merely have moved away. With it, he had to endure years of painful (and ultimately unsuccessful) legal efforts to secure his freedom. Look at the Confederate constitution and see how much slavery depended on legal enforcement.


Well of course it's an oversimplification. This is a blog, not a book or a scholarly journal. It's clearly true that slavery did rely on governmental support in the 18th and 19th C (a fact which makes it hard to describe the likes of Madison and Jefferson as "libertarian" even though they were in many other ways). My point was that slavery did not exclusively require government suppport.*

The reason I focused on the frontier and on early VA history is that slavery took root in conditions without much or any supporting law. The social attitudes and informal practices of the dominant social class were enough to support it in small numbers. As the size of the slave population increased, law and government became essential to its continuance.

*It did, of course, depend on government for the enforcement of certain laws. For example, a contract for the sale of a slave would be enforced the same as other laws. That's not quite the same issue.
12.14.2007 11:50am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Also, it seems bizarre to use Hamilton (or the federalists) as a model of conservatism.
It really does depend on your definition of "conservatism."

Conservative really just means, "reluctant to change without a clear reason for making the change." If you think of this as a negative characterization, consider the reverse, "interested in changing the way human societies have done things for a very long time, with enormous confidence that a hundred generations ordered their society that way because they were idiots or evil."

Throughout recent political history, "conservative" has referred to two different expressions of the same reluctance to engage in change without a darn good reason: a weird mixture of, at least compared to the Europeans, limited federal regulation of business combined with significant governmental promotion of business development; and that laws exist to promote public morality. (Liberals also believe that laws exist to promote public morality, but their definition of "public morality" is nearly 180 degrees opposite that of the majority.) Both ideas, within the American system, are conservative ("let's not change things without a good reason") ideas.

In the 20th century, people like Huckabee would generally be found in the Democratic Party. We tend to forget that the man who defended the law banning the teaching of evolution at the Scopes trial was three times the Democratic Party's nominee for President: William Jennings Bryan. In most respects, Bryan was a progressive for those times, and he correctly recognized that the consequences of evolutionary thought would be genocide, because by denying the Fatherhood of God, it would lead to denying the Brotherhood of Man. And he was right: Hitler's implementation of a mix of Big Government, New Age delusion, and Social Darwinism turned 12 million people into ash.

In the 1970s, the liberalism of the Democratic Party, largely concentrated in urban areas and centers of self-righteous, self-congratulatory elitism (like this blog) decided to take sides in the struggle between sexual liberation and traditional morality, and the attempts to aggressively promote evolution in public schools. The notion of government as a promoter of traditional morality became outmoded to the Democratic Party--and as a result, large numbers of socially conservative white Democrats started voting Republican. Many of them were never big on laissez faire economics, but the Democratic Party leadership opened the door, told them they could either go along with the program on homosexuality and drugs, or leave--and a lot of them left.

It would be unfortunate to see this coalition break down. Unfortunately, those libertarians who are suffering from the same self-righteousness as liberal Democrats did back in the 1970s, are in some real danger of giving up control of the White House to the Democrats. Guiliani strikes me as among the most opportunistic of politicians; Huckabee strikes me as a well-intentioned, but not terribly farsighted, traditional Democrat.

Social conservatives are pretty upset with how Bush sold them down the river the last few years; fiscal responsibility Republicans (many of whom aren't particularly libertarian) are upset with how Bush and the national Republican leadership sold them down the river. Libertarians are upset that social conservatives hold to quaint ideas like the existence of God, and that there are certain standards of moral behavior that the government should promote. If they all keep throwing rocks at each other, the net effect will be that President Clinton will appoint two or three justices who will deliver the votes required to mandate gay marriage nationwide, lower the age of consent to 12, and probably find some way to make Christianity disappear completely from public life. And Clinton will raise taxes and strangle the economy at the same time.
12.14.2007 11:52am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Mark Field writes:


Without much or any legal support? So what happened when those held in slavery sued and/or filed criminal charges against their owners for kidnapping, assault, etc.? Since slavery had no legal support, they won those suits and were freed, right?


You have a rather strange image of the American frontier.
It is actually more accurate than yours. From Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Making of America 3rd ed. (1987):

For the first twenty-five years after the coming of Negroes to Jamestown in 1619, their status remained that of indentured servant. But it was not many years before it became common practice to hold a black servant after his term had expired. By 1640 Negro slavery had gained a foothold, as the John Punch case indicated. Punch, a Negro, was one of three servants caught in the act of running away. As punishment the two white servants had four years added to their periods of service, but the court ordered that Punch "serve his master or his assigns for the time of his natural Life here or elsewhere." Thus by 1640 a Negro servant who ran afoul of the law found that his period of service was likely to be extended indefinitely, taking on the hallmark of slavery--perpetual servitude.

Another instance of slavery's coming shadow was the Manuel case. A mulatto, Manuel had been purchased "as a Slave for Ever" by Thomas Bushrod. Although the Assembly declared in 1644 that Manuel was not a slave, it went on to stipuulate that he must remain with Bushrod for twenty-one years, a highly exceptional length of service. Nine years later one Anthony Johnson, a Negro and former servant who had become a large landowner in Northampton County, claimed that John Casor owed him service for life. When, in 1653, Casor contested the charge, he had already put in fifteen years with Johnson.
I know that you are a law professor. I shudder to think how accurately you are teaching your students about this.
12.14.2007 12:02pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with Ilya. Off the top of my head, I wouldn't vote for Huckabee, Tancredo, and Paul. Since I also wouldn't vote for Hillary and probably not Obama, that would mean sitting on the side lines for the first time in 35 years.
12.14.2007 12:05pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
SIG357: Asks why the dog would never under any circumstances vote for McCain, when (he claims) McCain's positions are not that different from Giulliani's.

This is a reasonable question and the answer for me is as follows:

McCain is NOT a trustworthy friend. He is as likely to be liberal on an issue as he is to be conservative. McCain has stabbed me and my beliefs in the back one too many times for me to ever support him. I will not support McCain even if that means more losses in Congress and the whitehouse going to people I hate/despise (Bill and Hillary) or people I think would be worse for the country Obama or any other democrat nominee.

McCain stabbed me in the back with his Gang of 14 sellout on Judicial confirmations, On Tax Cuts, On Immigration, On some aspects of the TSP program and interrogation of detainees, and he (and Giulliani) couldn't wait in the last debate to jump on the sellout USA sovereignty for global warming nonsense.

So for me McCain is a test of my own character. Do I vote for McCain if he's the nominee or do I put into action my belief in consequences for bad decisions of betrayal. To allow myself to vote for or support McCain just because he "might not" (you really never know with that guy) be as bad as the democrat du jour would be a betrayal of my own beliefs for the sake consequences. A sort of the end justifies the means kind of rationalization to the abandonment of my principles that I am not willing to make. Certainly not for the likes of an untrustworthy person like McCain.

So nope, no McCain for me. I'd seriously consider voting FOR a democrat I loathe and despise just to make sure McCain gets what's coming to him, should he be the republican nominee.

Says the "Dog"
12.14.2007 12:58pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Then there is the whole McCain is short and the psychological chip most short people carry around on their shoulder. Something that often gives them a few extra rather poor personality traits.

Being stabbed in the back by a short person and then voting for them later?? Never gonna happen.

Not for this doggie (wink)

Says the "Dog"
12.14.2007 1:07pm
Aultimer:

Bryan was a progressive for those times, and he correctly recognized that the consequences of evolutionary thought would be genocide, because by denying the Fatherhood of God, it would lead to denying the Brotherhood of Man. And he was right: Hitler's implementation of a mix of Big Government, New Age delusion, and Social Darwinism turned 12 million people into ash.


I
12.14.2007 1:38pm
Aultimer:
Oops. "I" is supposed to say:

"I think you overstate the case that Bryan was right just a little. Some people seemed to weather the denial without resort to genocide. If you really believe that everyone who denies God would be happy with genocide, you should get out more."
12.14.2007 1:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Some people seemed to weather the denial without resort to genocide. If you really believe that everyone who denies God would be happy with genocide, you should get out more.
Unfortunately, it was really easy for much of the population to accept Social Darwinism and its associated baggage with destructive effects.

And I never said that "everyone who denies God would be happy with genocide," nor do I believe it. It doesn't take much, however, to release the worst aspects of human behavior.
12.14.2007 2:14pm
Pluribus (mail):
So Hitler is the result of evolutionary thought, eh? Pol Pot, too? And does evolutionary thought also define the ongoing genoicide in Africa? Stalin killed a few million people in the USSR, among them Hungarians. Was that also prompted by evolutionary thought? When I started visiting this site, I wasn't aware that I had come to a "center of self-righteous, self-congratulatory elitism." But now I know.
12.14.2007 2:16pm
Thoughtful (mail):
A comedian recently said, "Republicans are the people who believe in social Darwinism without believing in Darwinism." Little did he know he was actually speaking of factions under the big tent...:-)
12.14.2007 3:04pm
liberty (mail) (www):

Against Mike Huckabee:

I may not know who I'm for in the Republican presidential race. But I do know one leading candidate I'm definitely against: newly anointed frontrunner Mike Huckabee


Here here!

Just wanted to voice my agreement with your post in full. And to still stand by his "quarantine all gays" comment from the early 90s just makes him absolutely disgusting on top of the rest.
12.14.2007 3:30pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So Hitler is the result of evolutionary thought, eh? Pol Pot, too?
Pol Pot is the result of someone taking Marx seriously.
And does evolutionary thought also define the ongoing genoicide in Africa?
Nope. That's tribalism, largely.
Stalin killed a few million people in the USSR, among them Hungarians. Was that also prompted by evolutionary thought?
Nope. That was the combination of traditional Russian autocracy combined with a new ideology that made intellectuals both in the Soviet Union and the West (to this day, unfortunately) make excuses.

I never said that every genocide was the result of Social Darwinism. But it is interesting to watch your attempts to make that connection.
When I started visiting this site, I wasn't aware that I had come to a "center of self-righteous, self-congratulatory elitism." But now I know.
Gee, I'm so surprised that you didn't know this. :-)
12.14.2007 3:51pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

A comedian recently said, "Republicans are the people who believe in social Darwinism without believing in Darwinism."
Even Social Darwinists like Sir Cyril Burt didn't believe that the socioeconomic status of the population of late Victorian society reflected Social Darwinism. He thought that about 40% of the population was in the wrong class for their capabilities. No surprise; Britain was (and still remains to some tiny extent) a society where class and status reflect titles and inherited privileges.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of different factions within the Republican Party. You won't find many social conservatives arguing for Social Darwinism. I'm sure that some of the libertarian faction believes in it, because the alternative is to admit that a lot of people are carrying around the baggage that their alcoholic or drug addicted parents left them in bad upbringing. If there were any sizable number of multimillionaires in the Republican Party, I suppose that they might buy the Social Darwinist claim--but the obscenely rich are overwhelming Democrats.
12.14.2007 3:55pm
CJColucci:
President Clinton will appoint two or three justices who will deliver the votes required to mandate gay marriage nationwide,

Now that's big government for you -- making all those gay folk get married!
12.14.2007 3:56pm
wooga:
Ah, but unlike Huckabee, President Clinton would at least let them smoke after consummating their mandatory gay marriage.
12.14.2007 4:14pm
byomtov (mail):
EVERYWHERE in America, slavery required enormous governmental inputs. Slave patrols throughout the Colonial period, for example, exist because governments ORDERED people to participate. Laws prohibiting slaves from being armed, laws prohibiting teaching slaves to write, laws punishing whites for marrying blacks, laws refusing to recognize interracial marriages--it was a massively liberal infusion of government power to create and maintain slavery.

Oh right. It was the liberals. Give me a f***ing break. Who do you think made the laws? The slaveowners, the aristocracy, that's who. Do you honestly believe that there was some liberal movement, led by an early Kennedy maybe, to force slavery into the law against the will of the people who controlled, say, Virginia? What utter nonsense. It was, as someone above said, about power - power used to enact laws in ones own interest.
12.14.2007 4:46pm
Pluribus (mail):

Bryan was a progressive for those times, and he correctly recognized that the consequences of evolutionary thought would be genocide, because by denying the Fatherhood of God, it would lead to denying the Brotherhood of Man. And he was right: Hitler's implementation of a mix of Big Government, New Age delusion, and Social Darwinism turned 12 million people into ash.


So if we had only accepted Bryan's conviction that the world was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C., according to Bishop Ussher's calculation, instead of around 4.5 billion years ago as geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, and biologists mistakenly tell us, all those innocent people wouldn't have been slaughtered. I get it. It's far more important to accept the myths invented by a tribal people in the Middle East three or four thousand years ago than to look at the world through the realistic eyes of science. Keep our blinders on and everything's going to be OK. Are your books filled with more gems of wisdom like this?
12.14.2007 5:21pm
byomtov (mail):
Clinton will raise taxes and strangle the economy at the same time.

Just like Bill did. I well remember the Great Depression of the 90's that followed his tax increase.

At least, I remember all the predictions of one.
12.14.2007 6:20pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
byomtov: get with the program, Clinton is evil and any Democrat is always bad for the economy. What a disaster Bob Rubin proved to be as Treasury Secretary compared to that scholar, John Snow.
12.15.2007 12:25am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It was, as someone above said, about power - power used to enact laws in ones own interest.
Uh, no, Mark Field claimed that it was power alone, not the laws.
12.15.2007 9:24pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Pluribus writes:

So if we had only accepted Bryan's conviction that the world was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C., according to Bishop Ussher's calculation, instead of around 4.5 billion years ago as geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, and biologists mistakenly tell us, all those innocent people wouldn't have been slaughtered.
Actually, I don't think Bishop Ussher's interesting waste of time made any difference at all. (Even 19th century Creationists often made a point of disapproving of Ussher's work in this area, because it made certain assumptions about the word translated as "begat" in the King James Version.)

You know, you might want to actually read what secular historians have to say about the influence of Social Darwinism on the development of 19th and 20th century "scientific racism." You might want to read Reginald Horsman's book on Anglo-Saxon racial superiority and manifest destiny; ditto for The Leopard's Spots, which examine how the rise of science created a systematic justification for notions of white racial superiority.

Oh, and you might be made nervous by reading the pages out of the textbook that led to the Scopes Trial. Professor Lindgren linked to them here last year.

Oh yes, Buck v. Bell--why do you suppose that liberals like Holmes were so willing to accept mandatory sterilization?
12.15.2007 9:28pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


Clinton will raise taxes and strangle the economy at the same time.



Just like Bill did. I well remember the Great Depression of the 90's that followed his tax increase.

At least, I remember all the predictions of one.
I hate to disappoint you, but that boom mostly happened after Republicans gained control of Congress and did something that is now just a pleasant memory--they actually cut spending.
12.15.2007 9:30pm
byomtov (mail):
Republicans gained control of Congress and did something that is now just a pleasant memory--they actually cut spending.

Actually, they didn't. Spending rose even after 1994.
12.16.2007 1:38pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Me: A comedian recently said, "Republicans are the people who believe in social Darwinism without believing in Darwinism."

Clayton Cramer: Even Social Darwinists like Sir Cyril Burt didn't believe that the socioeconomic status of the population of late Victorian society reflected Social Darwinism. He thought that about 40% of the population was in the wrong class for their capabilities. No surprise; Britain was (and still remains to some tiny extent) a society where class and status reflect titles and inherited privileges.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of different factions within the Republican Party. You won't find many social conservatives arguing for Social Darwinism. I'm sure that some of the libertarian faction believes in it, because the alternative is to admit that a lot of people are carrying around the baggage that their alcoholic or drug addicted parents left them in bad upbringing. If there were any sizable number of multimillionaires in the Republican Party, I suppose that they might buy the Social Darwinist claim--but the obscenely rich are overwhelming Democrats.
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Me: Clayton, have you ever heard that nothing ruins a joke more than analyzing it? Chill a little...
12.16.2007 3:20pm