Whose Values?

The "Values Voters Summit" kicked off last week in Washington.  But whose values were they talking about?  Bashing gay people?  Denying the basic humanity of immigrants.  In what twisted world are those values to be proud of?

For too long, the Right wing has peddled us-versus-them values, pitting all of us against each other to distract us from the real problems.  The problem in our society, we're told, is the gay folks or the Muslims or the immigrants.  The solution is to wall ourselves up, launch endless wars, abolish Affirmative Action.  

This story, of course, is meant to distract us from the real problems in our society:  that we're bleeding good jobs on all sides of our borders because multinational corporations just want to pay the lowest wages to seek the biggest profits; that few American families can afford the skyrocketing costs of health care and college tuition; that we're spending more on the military and prisons than public education and social services...  The list goes on.   How can the Family Research Council think it's talking about values when these issues are not front-and-center in the discussion?

Maybe it's time we start talking about real American values, where we take care of each other and respect each other and recognize that we're all in it together.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, "We are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  That is the way the world is made." He didn't exclude immigrants or gay people or people of color from that web.  Nor did the Jesus.  "Have we not all one father, has not one God created us?" The passage doesn't read, "We all have one creator and are equal except for this list which I shall now read..." The Right wing has force-fed us the idea that we must compete with each other, that your rights infringe on my rights, that justice is a zero-sum game.  

But the Right is wrong.  The story of America is, and has always been, that we're all in it together.  Native communities spoke of the interconnected web of community long before Martin Luther King.  The pioneers built their communities not through go-it-alone individualism but communal wagon trains and cooperation.  Most everything that anyone has ever achieve in our country has been with the help of others, from the family and community that support us to the government which educates us, paves our roads, provides our drinking water.  American values are based on mutual need and mutual respect.  These are the values we should be talking about --- and making the candidates listen!

On December 1st in Des Moines, Iowa, several local community organizations are hosting the Heartland Presidential Forum --- where presidential candidates presidential candidates will face real people with real problems, who care about community values and want to know if the candidates share their beliefs. Members of community organizations from across the United States will ask the candidates about community values and their vision for health care, immigration, worker justice and more as they hold the candidates accountable to what we the people really value.  It's just one example of how, this election, we're all in together.  

Maybe the Republicans struggle to find a frontrunner is emblematic of the fact that their politics of division and isolation are no longer working.  The country has wised up.  We know that the economy is crumbling, jobs are evaporating, we have more enemies abroad then friends, and racial discrimination is continuing to rear its ugly head in Jena and beyond.  At the moment where our ship is sinking, we realize that we're all in this boat together.   The politics of isolation and exclusionary values will only sink us further.  But if we work together --- and value our connectedness and shared fate --- we can turn this ship around!

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Huckabee wins Chuck Norris Primary

He may be lagging in the polls, but not for long. Mike Huckabee just won the endorsement of Chuck Norris. Check and mate. No stopping him now.

Huckabee Wins "Values Voters" Straw Poll

The Family Research Council's "values voters" summit concluded today with an onsite straw poll that found Mike Huckabee winning with a majority of support.

Mike Huckabee    488    51.26%Mitt Romney    99     10.40%Fred Thompson    77     8.09%Tom Tancredo    65     6.83%Rudy Giuliani    60     6.30%Duncan Hunter     54     5.67%John McCain     30     3.15%Sam Brownback     26     2.73%Ron Paul     25     2.63%Undecided     11     1.16%Not Voting     7     0.74%

He absolutely crushed the field, giving further proof that, as Jerome's Breaking Blue headline puts it: Huckabee becoming theocon choice. The result might have come as no surprise to anyone who was in attendance at the event, as his speech was met with rave reviews. David Brody of CBN describes it this way:

Finally, he came with a very straightforward purpose. He told the crowd that he's one of them. He is a value voter. The crowd gave him standing ovation after standing ovation.

The speech was part policy, part tent revival. He was in full Pastor mode throwing out the Bible references left and right. The people I talked to afterwards were very impressed.

RedState raves as well (h/t Race42008).

Expect Mitt Romney to declare victory in the FRC straw poll as well, however, as they held an online straw poll and the combined results gave Romney a slight win over Huckabee.

Mitt Romney1595 27.62%Mike Huckabee156527.15%Ron Paul86514.98%Fred Thompson5649.77%Undecided3295.7%Sam Brownback2975.14%Duncan Hunter 1402.42%Tom Tancredo 1332.3%Rudy Giuliani 1071.85%John McCain811.4%

But truthfully, this too should be seen as a win for Huckabee. To quote RedState:

In the online poll that the Romney campaign pushed hard to win, he only managed to get thirty more votes than Mike Huckabee.

While Huckabee certainly is the story here, Thompson's and McCain's results are notable as well. Clearly Thompson bombed among a constituency he was widely considered to be courting. And look at poor old John McCain, a faithful "pro-life" Republican all these years only to fall below the pro-choice guy among voters who hold opposition to abortion rights above all other issues. Their distrust of McCain appears to be truly irrevocable.

As a sidenote, the Democrats were included in the straw poll and Obama did best with 5 onsite votes, just ahead of Kucinich and Dodd who had 2 votes each and Biden who had one.

Update [2007-10-20 17:57:15 by Todd Beeton]: Oh yeah, and to give you a sense of just what it was that made the fundies go crazy for Huckabee this weekend, CNN has a wrap-up of his speech. Upshot: abortion is a holocaust and discrimination should be enshrined into the constitution:

"Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our workforce," the former Arkansas governor said. "It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973."

Huckabee also spoke adamantly of the need for conservative lawmakers to show no compromise on fighting for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between a man and a woman. "I'm very tired of hearing people who are unwilling to change the constitution, but seem more than willing to change the holy word of God as it relates to the definition of marriage," he said.

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What's Happening With Huckabee?

With a measly $1 million take for the third quarter (1/5 of what Ron Paul raised,) Mike Huckabee was clearly unable to translate his 2nd place finish in the Iowa straw poll in August into any meaningful fundraising advantage, but despite this, early state polls are starting to show some real movement on his part.

After tying Giuliani for third place in Iowa in the recent DesMoines Register poll, today's Rasmussen poll finds Huckabee surging into a tie for second with Fred Thompson. In addition to that, the last two New Hampshire polls show Huckabee tied with Thompson for 4th place and the most recent South Carolina poll shows him rising into double digits for the first time in a respectable 5th place. Not to mention that Rasmussen's national daily tracking poll may have to add a 5th column for Huckabee -- he's now up to 7%. The fact that someone who's raised so little money is playing with the big boys is significant. If conservatives are as discontent with their field as polls seem to indicate and are still looking for a candidate without "a glass jaw," it would appear that many are finding him in Mike Huckabee.

Dick Morris, who's worked as a consultant for Huckabee, concurs.

In the meantime, plugging away in the shadows, with no money and no political backing, an articulate, principled, knowledgeable, conservative Christian, Mike Huckabee, has been plowing the fields in Iowa hoping to catch a break. He is witty, sincere, dedicated and courageous in his own way. With a minus share of the vote, he kept at it and refused to pander on the one hand or give up on the other. [...]

Now he churns his way to the forefront of the pack in the Republican primary. He's still broke, but still finished a strong second in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll with 18 percent of the vote...[and] he has the best of all possible worlds: Rivals who are falling of their own weight. So here comes Mike.

One of the things that makes Huckabee such a stealth candidate is that he does seem to stay out of the news, content, it would appear, to do the retail politics thing, requiring neither money nor media attention. But when he does say or do something newsworthy, it's always something sort of strange, which further gives him the feel of a fringe candidate. First he's an advocate for the "fair tax," which wikipedia describes as

changing tax laws to replace the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and all federal income taxes (including Alternative Minimum Tax), payroll taxes (including Social Security and Medicare taxes), corporate taxes, capital gains taxes, gift taxes, and estate taxes with a national retail sales tax, to be levied once at the point of purchase on all new goods and services.

Crazy, right? And then there was his creepy suicide joke during the last GOP debate:

The former Arkansas governor, exaggerating, said other GOP presidential hopefuls were raising $100 for every nickel he had raised. "If I were some of these guys, I'd have to be sitting in a warm tub of water with razor blades," Huckabee said on MSNBC-TV.

Weird. And now we learn of this strange response to a question about whether his religious views would prevent him from supporting funding for safe-sex programs (From TPM):

"The best thing to do is to encourage people to make good choices," Huckabee said. "For example, if we were really serious about stopping a problem, whether it's drunk driving, we don't say, 'Okay, don't drive as drunk,' do we?"

Huckabee offered another example: "We don't say that a little domestic violence is okay, just cut it down a little, just don't hit quite as hard. We say it's wrong."

Hmm. Again, odd, but Blue Hampshire's Mike Caulfield makes the case that we ignore Huckabee at our own peril. It's not that Huckabee's stances aren't crazy, it's just that he delivers them in a nice guy package that could, in Caulfield's estimation, be truly dangerous if he's the nominee.

Here's the thing though... as I type this all out, the fringe nature of [Huckabee's response] becomes obvious. But in Huckabee's presence it's not. There is this air of reasonableness which flows off of him. He's a year 2000 George Bush with 40 additional IQ points and without that damn smirk. Even that doesn't hit it -- Huckabee is as talented on the stump as any of the candidates, Democratic or Republican. [...]

Hillary v. Huckabee is a threat to a Democratic victory in a way that Hillary v. Guiliani is frankly not. Were the Republican base to get past its craving for 2002, when hate was in vogue, they'd see that their best chance for an election win is to rerun the formula of 2000 with a sharper and more experienced candidate.

Huckabee is probably at the top of every candidate's VP list but if he hopes to be the guy choosing from his own VP list, Huckabee is going to have to build on his rising poll numbers with some money and some institutional support throughout the rest of this quarter. If he's able to do so, we could see an upset in the making.

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New SUSA poll has Clinton leading in KENTUCKY!

Granted, Kentucky is about to elect a Democratic governor in three weeks, but that does not mean it has become a blue state. But the latest SUSA poll from Kentucky finds Clinton leading against Giuliani!

Full analysis and news cross-posted at Campaign Diaries.

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