Kathleen Parker wrote a blog article for Townhall.com entitled "Christians for Self-Defeat." I fully expected her to chide the evangelical leadership for their hand-wringing over their choices for the 2008 Presidential election, and she did that - sort of. Her opening statement, however, made me blanch:
"Evangelical Christians never had it so good, but they seem not to know it. Instead of supporting the candidate who most shares their values -- Mitt Romney -- they seem hell-bent for the proverbial cliff."
I like Kathleen Parker from her days as a local columnist with the Orlando Sentinel, but I disagree with the statement she makes about Governor Romney.
Let's set aside his Mormonism for a moment, although I'll acknowledge right up front that his religious denomination is a deal-breaker for many evangelicals. His compatibility on values is questionable to me because it appears contrived. I've no doubt that he believes in them personally because of his faith, but for me, the number and nature of the conversions Governor Romney has made in his public life are too much for me to overcome. He comes across as opportunistic and inauthentic as a result.
Further in her column, Ms. Parker writes:
"And then there's Mike Huckabee. If Dobson really meant what he said in his op-ed -- that winnability shouldn't be the deciding factor in supporting a candidate -- then Huckabee should be receiving bouquets of Ben Franklins with his morning beignets. A southern Baptist preacher, the former Arkansas governor is a human checklist of conservative values, as well as being personable, likable and funny. What Huckabee doesn't have is the golden coffer, which means that electability is, in fact, a Christian concern."
This is where Ms. Parker speaks the unvarnished truth. The evangelical leadership betrays us with their dishonesty and fear. By elevating electability over principle, they put their trust in the world and not in the Lord. If they lined up as one behind Governor Huckabee, who is making a slow and steady rise in the polls even without their help, his fortunes would skyrocket overnight. Not only is he consistent in his values, he is eloquent and not angry or strident in communicating them, and as a person from a modest background who pastored in and eventually governed a poor state, he has genuine empathy for the working poor, and he's demonstrated it in his statements and policies.
He not only cares about the sanctity of life and marriage, he cares about children's health, education in the arts and families battered by the pace of change and globalization. He was one of five governors, only two of which were Republicans, to be named among the best governors in America by Time Magazine. He was the overwhelming winner of the straw poll taken at the Values Voters Debate with 64 percent of the vote.
His only liability is that he doesn't have a national network or the name recognition to raise copious amounts of cash. I admire that he is competitive in the polls in spite of that fact. His campaign is being very judicious with the money they have raised, and I believe the way he gets maximum value out of every dollar is reflective of how he'd manage the federal budget. If the evangelical community, which comprises a third of the Republican base, put their weight behind his candidacy, his money woes would disappear.
I'm reminded of the old joke about the man trapped on the roof of his flooded home who repeatedly refuses help because he declares the Lord will save him, only to drown when the waters rise too high. When he's in heaven and asks the Lord why He didn't save him, the Lord replies, "What are you talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter."
The evangelical community doesn't need a third-party candidate, nor do they need to compromise their beliefs for electability. They need to open their eyes and see what's right in front of them, waiting for them to agree to be rescued. They need to trust in their own beliefs and bestow electability on Mike Huckabee with their time, talent and treasure.