Carol Platt Liebau: Huckabee's Appeal to Factions

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Huckabee's Appeal to Factions

Mike Huckabee is trying to drum up political support by telling evangelicals that his candidacy represents their chance to lead the Republican Party.

This is a good strategy for Huckabee. By identifying himself with evangelicals, he wins a powerful, energized, diligent constituency full of first rate human beings.

But his appeal is dangerous for the Republican Party as a whole. I stand second to no one in my respect for evangelical/Christian conservatives. But it's no secret that there are many stripes of Republicans, many of whom would be uncomfortable remaining in a party that is led by a man who has marketed himself as the champion of just one segment of the party -- i.e., of Christian conservatives. (The same objection would obtain if Rudy Giuliani tried to appeal to pro-choice conservatives to vote for him so that they could come to power, or if McCain did the same with moderate New England Republicans).

Successful candidates have to unify a party, not promote themselves as the stalking horse of one faction of it. And the factions to which the appeals are directed have to remember that it's better to be a respected, vital constituency inside a successful party that equipped through electoral victory to enact an agenda than to "rule" a smaller, impotent party that can't win elections.


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