Watching the Republican primary has been less like watching a horse race and more like watching the horses on the merry-go-round at the carnival. There has been a lot of up and down movement among the candidates with no clear leader emerging. In fact we have two primaries and one caucus under our electoral belts and there have been three different winners. Mike Huckabee surprised in Iowa, John McCain won on what has become his home turf of New Hampshire and Mitt Romney won Wyoming by virtue of the fact he was the only major candidate to visit the state. So, like the merry-go-round the candidates appear to be moving in a circle with all of them getting off where they got on with little or no progress being made.
All of that is about to change because of South Carolina. With the first primary in the south less than a week away the nation looks to South Carolina where Fred Thompson has drawn a line in the sand, Mike Huckabee is surging and John McCain is depending on the highest per capita population of military veterans. Mitt Romney has pretty much pulled out of South Carolina and Rudy Giuliani's line in the sand will be drawn in the white sand of Florida. Because of the strong evangelical base in South Carolina former Baptist preacher turned Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee should do well.
Evangelical Christians have been burned several times by people who have sought and won the national political stage only to disappoint on the core social issues important to most believers. The reason for this is simple ... they were conservatives coming to the Evangelical community for votes rather than true Evangelicals who rose from the community to bring about real change. For the first time in the modern era we have a true Evangelical who does much more than just talk the Evangelical talk. In Mike Huckabee, we have a candidate with a genuine faith that is born from true belief, not bought and paid for with a consultant's fee. Mike Huckabee should be president because he is the real deal.
He should be president because he is the only major candidate with a comprehensive nine point immigration plan. It begins with building a fence and ends with the modernization of our antiquated legal immigration system. In between, the plan calls for enforcing the laws and imposing stiff penalties on employers who intentionally hire illegals. It calls for a no amnesty policy that requires all illegal immigrants to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, leave the country and get in the back of the legal immigration line. It increases the number of border patrol agents, bans sanctuary cities, and empowers local law enforcement to go after illegal immigrants. Huckabee's plan has been endorsed by Jim Gilchrist, the founder and leader of the Minute Men, one of the staunchest anti-illegal immigration organizations in the country.
He should be president because while Governor of Arkansas, he pushed through Covenant Marriage which reduced the divorce rate. He led the state to pass a human life amendment that is now part of the Arkansas state constitution. He opposed embryonic stem cell research and he called for no tax funding for organizations that promote abortion.
Some people have tried to characterize Mike Huckabee as being opposed to Home Schoolers. The fact is while Governor of Arkansas he appointed a homeschool mom to the state Board of Education. Mike Farris, Chair of the national Home School Legal Defense Association and Chancellor of Patrick Henry College has endorsed Huckabee and campaigned for him in Iowa.
Others have accused Huckabee of the being liberal in his fiscal policy as Governor. The truth is Huckabee lowered taxes ninety-four times while Governor. Critics point out that Huckabee raised the gas tax in Arkansas to rebuild the road system. The truth is eighty percent of the people of Arkansas voted in favor of the gas tax which ultimately improved the roads from some of the worst in the nation to some of the best in the nation. The other major tax increase on Huckabee's watch was made necessary by a Federal Government that threatened to take over the entire Arkansas School system. Huckabee reduced the number of School Districts in Arkansas by one third saving the taxpayers millions of dollars and preventing a takeover by the Feds, a move which, in the long run would certainly have cost the taxpayers more than the tax increase. The end result in Arkansas was a school system that moved from near the bottom to near the top in the quality of education received by its students.
Some have accused Huckabee of being soft on crime pointing to the 1,033 pardons and clemencies he agreed to during his tenure as Governor. They conveniently forget to mention Huckabee rejected over 7,600 requests and that out of the just over 1,000 he granted only 100 were repeat offenders. That is a recidivism rate of just under 10 percent. The recidivism rate nationwide is just over 70 percent. These critics also forget to mention that Huckabee agreed to the execution of 16 convicted murderers. This is hardly the record of a Governor who is soft on crime.
Mike Huckabee should be president because he has the core values that are needed to face the great challenges of our day. They are values that are rooted, grounded, and built up in the Christian faith. Conservatism alone will not transform America. Conservatism that is fueled by a strong faith in Jesus Christ will. Mike Huckabee should be president because he is the only candidate who brings together genuine faith, fiscal conservatism, and a heartfelt, Holy Spirit inspired commitment to change America by leading according to God's Word. It's time to leave the merry-go-round of politics as usual behind by getting behind Mike Huckabee for President.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.