A call for change was sounded in Iowa last night, as the caucases came out strongly in favor of the two candidates who best embodied a shift from the status quo: Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. I hope that, in both cases, it is the first victory of many.
My opinion of Huckabee hasn’t changed since I doggedly tracked his debate progress – I think he’s a novice in most every regard in foreign affairs and has some downright regressive social views. That having been said, I find him appealing as a candidate – though not as a President, mind you – in the way he and Barack Obama most distinguish themselves from the flock:
The man seems honest.
Part of this is just his personability, I’m sure. We tend to impute trust on those we enjoy the company of, and Mike Huckabee is, if anything, amiable. But more significant in favor of his honesty is that he is dramatically different from the standard Republican position on a numbers of issues. Those of you in the GOP stroking your chins and contemplating the reality of a Huckabee Presidency, take heed.
Firstly, he’s best known for social programs. Most of his achievements in Arkansas come from his success in maintaining a decent budget while increasing – not decreasing – government services, particularly to the poor, to children and to the ill.
Secondly, he’s very in favor of diplomatic engagement abroad, and criticizes the Bush administration’s foreign policy, particularly its use of violence and refusal to talk to enemies. In the latter case, one can understand why, when you’re as charming as Huckabee.
All this amounts to a change from the current archetype of the GOP candidate typified as someone W. could pass the torch to: An aggressive, pro-Bush, anti-big government, pro-business, anti-social welfare candidate.
If all it took to qualify for President in 2008 was change, Huckabee would fit the bill. However, I’m convinced that many of his policies are wrong headed, I reject the fundamentals of his evangelical values and I think he’s a lightweight compared to the others on the trail.
Which brings us to my man for change – Barack Obama.
Whereas Huckabee had a very good night last night, Obama had a great one. We’ve yet to have people recognize how great.
His speech was phenomenal, and he proved he’s tapped in to the American desire for a new way – honesty balanced with idealism, realism with boldness, and the values of the past with the world of the future. In every sense, he distinguished himself, and though the papers are growling about how Clinton is hardly bruised, I’m confident that the blood’s in the water.
In a candidate that’s tough, on the mark and not afraid to go there, I’m confident America has been calling for a better way.