Cornell was fortunate to welcome former governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to campus for a talk on religion in politics. Of all the social conservatives out there, I respect him for 1) his defense of Reverend Jeremiah Wright 2) his social policies that deal with the poor and underprivileged. Too often social conservatives talk about stem cell research, gay marriage, and abortion without paying any attention to the underrepresented on this world. Sure, go ahead and argue for the life of those yet to be born, but don’t forget about the right of those on death row. Don’t forget about the starving and homeless struggling to live or all of those who have and who will lose their life in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you’re going to make a religious argument against gay marriage and abortion because it’s morally and religiously correct, then also argue for the poor and defenseless citizens as well as the environment because that is also a moral argument. This is where my respect for Mike Huckabee comes in. He is out there fighting for social programs that democrats support as well as social issues that republicans place on their pedestal. He’s taken his moralities and transcended them across party lines. Whereas fellow Catholic and Senator of Kansas, Sam Brownback stands in front of Congress and shows pictures of stem cells his daughter drew.
While Huckabee was still in the running for the republican nomination I came to respect him for his unwavering views though I disagreed with several and for his respect of all beliefs and viewpoints. He also showed his humor on the Colbert Report. What I came to believe about him from watching his presence on tv did not fall short to what I saw on stage last night at Bailey Hall. He was funny, genuine, honest, and open. He wasn’t afraid to make statements that he knew many in the building would disagree with (after all Cornell is a pretty liberal campus). He poked fun at himself, made a joke about John McCain being old, and made sure people knew that he wasn’t talking to promote his political agenda. The sense in that building was one of mutual respect between the audience and the speaker.
He explained what made him a republican, and it wasn’t his family seeing that all of them are democrats. His main reason was a belief in small government, though he made sure to state that government can only become small when people choose to be morally upstanding. His argument was that how people act directly affects the size of government, not the other way around. I was able to follow the reasoning, but got lost as soon as he tried to bring it to why he became a republican. I think the pitfall was the simplicity of his argument.
Nonetheless, the Cornell Republicans could not have picked a better speaker to represent the social conservative viewpoint in politics. Huckabee isn’t a Robertson or a Fallwell and that is for the better. He presented his point humanely and respectfully, which, from the chatting of the departing audience, I could tell was received very well.