Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mike Huckabee Speaks at "In Defense of Life: Why All Lives Matter" Event

On July 31st, Freedom's Journal Institute's RISE Initiative Program, aimed at conservative African Americans, hosted a conference entitled "In Defense of Life: Why All Lives Matter" in Tinley Park, Illinois. The event was co-sponsored by the World Congress of Families and the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, according to a press release at Christian News Wire.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee delivered at talk at the conference entitled "Strong Family Values", which On Target Radio shared via YouTube. As usual, Huckabee promoted an anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion platform, acknowledging his audience's hunger for change while offering few solutions of substance to America's woes.

In true Religious Right fashion, Huckabee appealed to "nature's God" and "our great republic". After likening the U.S.  to an airplane that needs both wings and a steering mechanism to fly, Huckabee stressed that America needs "moral clarity" to stay aloft. At the 8:24 mark, he argued that the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage was antithetical to this moral clarity.
"In our form of government, the steering mechanism is a moral clarity based on the objective truth that some things are right, some things are wrong, and without a moral foundation, our great republic cannot stand because it was based on the notion that we self-govern according to the laws of nature and the laws of nature's God.

Today we have those who would defy those laws and believe that laws are whatever we wish them to be based on whatever we wish they could be. A few weeks ago, when the Extreme Court made its irrational and illogical decision to redefine marriage, I found it astonishing as I read through a hundred and twenty-something pages of their decision and the four dissents from the more level-headed justices who actually apparently read the Constitution before trying to redefine it, but I thought it was most noted that Justice John Roberts ... said, "Who do we think we are?" I would suggest if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it's apparent that man believes that he has become his own God, and this is a dangerous place for America to be."
Huckabee made a surprisingly nuanced comment about government programs and poverty at the 15:45 mark. After describing the working class poverty of his youth, Huckabee blamed poverty on government programs with arbitrary cut-off thresholds. I would argue that unfair wages, the outsourcing of jobs overseas, low literacy, and lack of access to education fuel poverty far more than flaws in governmental program, but Huckabee's observation does have merit.
"Nobody living in poverty wants to be there. There's a ridiculous notion that people who are poor really like it and want to stay poor, and they just want the government to give them more stuff. And I say, look, let me explain something to you. People who are poor would rather not be poor, but there comes a point at every time when they try to get out of the hole of poverty, and the government programs keep putting its foot on their faces and pushing them back down the ladder, there comes a point at which people do give up, and at that point, when they don't think there's any way they'll ever get out of the hole, they at least start saying, 'Then could you make the hole a little nicer?' Folks, our goal ought not to be to see if we can make the hole nicer. It ought to be, can we get people out of that hole and on their own two independent feet?

And one way to do that is to make sure that the various programs, benefits that sometimes people do need as they move up the ladder don't have an arbitrary cut-off point so that if a single mom with a couple of kids is getting Medicaid, Section 8 housing, WIC, food stamps, and then all of a sudden, if she goes and takes a job and she makes one dollar over the threshold for qualification of those programs, her kids go from being at least tolerably well off to utterly impoverished, without a roof over their heads, food on their table, and health care to take care of their illnesses. And at that point, I say don't blame the single mom for taking advantage of the programs. Blame a government that punishes her for going to work rather than one that would reward her for going to work and doing better for her family."
Unfortunately, Huckabee quickly reverted to his right-wing self. At the 18:03 mark, he blamed poverty on the breakdown of the family, rather than unfair labor practices, outsourcing, or lack of educational opportunities.
"The single greatest contributor to poverty is the breakdown of the traditional family of one man as a husband and one wife as a mother raising their children in a [inaudible] environment. Only 17% of African American children reach the age of 17 with a mother and a father who are also the biological parents of that child ... 72% of the births in the African American community now are births to an unwed mother, and the fact is, if a child grows up in a home with both a mother and a father, both of whom have a minimum of a high school education and who are gainfully employed, there's a 91% chance that child will never spend one single day in poverty. If you take away the mother or the father, and you take away the bare minimum of a high school education, and you take away gainful and consistent employment, there is now an 87% chance that that child will spend most of his growing up in poverty."
Huckabee promotes the simplistic trope of marriage as the solution to poverty. Unfortunately, for millions of families, marriage does not provide automatic inoculation against poverty. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 9.5% of children living in married-couple families lived in poverty in 2013. While married couples are much less likely to live in poverty compared to single-parent households, marriage alone cannot solve America's poverty woes. Huckabee refuses to examine the complex roots of poverty and incorrectly assumes that unmarried status is a cause, rather than an effect, of chronic poverty. Exalting heterosexual marriage (and taking jabs at same-sex marriage in the process) will not create jobs, raise wages, or help people afford higher education.

An anti-abortion activist to the core, Huckabee was compelled to demonized Planned Parenthood. At the 23:28 mark, he referenced the controversial Planned Parenthood videos released this summer, ignoring arguments that the videos were deceptively edited.
"I am not a pro-life person because I got into politics and thought that would be a popular platform on which to build my political life. I got into politics because I'm pro-life and believe that if we do not accept the intrinsic worth and value of every single human life from the moment of conception, we are violating the very spirit of our declaration that gave us our independence. 

The denigration of human life in our culture has been made more remarkably and more starkly clear this week because of the revelations from the videos that were secretly taped at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. If anybody can watch those videos and can watch medical doctors -- who are supposedly trained to heal -- callously and with a cavalier attitude chomp on a salad, sipping wine, and speak of trading body parts as if they're trading the parts to a used Buick, anyone who can watch that and listen to them talk about the harvesting of human hearts and livers and kidneys and selling them, and to do it while having a conversation and wishing about selling enough so they can own a Lamborghini, if anyone can see that and not be repulsed to the point of saying enough is enough, then I can only surmise that person has what the Bible calls a seared conscience, no longer able to feel a twinge of guilt [inaudible]."
Mike Huckabee's playbook hasn't changed. His platform still consists of condemning abortion, criticizing LGBTQ rights, and exalting heterosexual marriage while offering few concrete solutions to pressing problems.

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