CPAC 2012: Mike Huckabee on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness


Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee took the occasion of his CPAC address to thank President Obama, for “doing more than any GOP candidate has done, to bring this Party to unity, and energize this Party, as a result of his attack on religious liberty.”  He chuckled at the unlikely spectacle of a lifelong Baptist speaking before a great assembly to declare that, thanks to Obama, “we are all Catholics now.”

Huckabee wondered if Obama might have missed a day or two during his Constitutional education, specifically the day when the First Amendment was explained.  He took it upon himself to conduct a bit of remedial education.  “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  And ObamaCare did that precisely.”  Huckabee sees the solution as saying “no thank you” to ObamaCare – a message that can be sent only by electing a President and Congress who will repeal it.

The Constitution is clear on the supremacy of individual conscience above government power, but Huckabee sees ObamaCare’s assault on the Catholic Church as the latest evidence that this relationship has been turned upside down.  The point of filling the Constitution with clear injunctions against the government – a list of boundaries the State was never meant to cross – was to secure the relationship between conscience and liberty.  Forcing people to support, and pay for, activities they believe are morally wrong is the worst kind of tyranny you can inflict on the populace, without breaking out the barbed wire and bullets.

Huckabee rejected the division between “social conservative” and “fiscal conservative” issues, noting that in the early stages of the current elections, the social cons were told to clam up, so as not to frighten off independents.  Now, with only months to go before the election, a social conservative issue of religious freedom dominates the headlines.

“Where there is a nation that has lost its morals,” Huckabee postulated, “there is a nation that will give up its money.”  It’s interesting how those things go hand-in-hand.  Once moral dependency upon the State has been established, who’s going to question the government’s right to spend our money in accordance with its superior wisdom?  Liberals like Obama love to posture as super-intelligent technocrats, but their rule is always expressed as a moral crusade, in which little things like whether mankind is actually contributing to global warming, big-bucks “stimulus” actually creates jobs, or “green energy” programs are actually working, are dismissed as trivia. 

The rights to life and liberty are listed before “the pursuit of happiness” for a reason.  “Lose those,” Huckabee warned, “and money won’t matter.”  He noted the proposition that “all men are created equal” was radical in 1776.  It remains a radical notion, not easily grasped.  The entire liberal project involves claiming the superior moral authorization to treat people unequally before the law.  Their rights are not absolute grants from a higher authority, because there is no higher authority than the benevolent State.  If those “rights” are not used properly, the ruling class will use them for us.  In Barack Obama’s America, everything is “alienable.”

“The idea that we can separate faith from freedom is a ridiculously naïve idea,” Huckabee maintained, because once you concede the existence of higher authority, at least as a matter of principle, the government will never stop demanding further concessions.  If we are not “a nation under God,” we’ll get to enjoy being a nation under something else.

Huckabee sees the pro-life issue as the razor’s edge of this argument.  In the dance of chromosomes swirling together to form DNA, in the early moments of a process that will undeniably become a human life, comes the moment when faith must be placed in either the State or the Almighty.  Where we place our faith determines the very nature of the question, as can be seen from the way each side insists on giving it a different name: pro-life or pro-choice, anti-choice or anti-life.  Science, Huckabee noted, has been working for the pro-life cause, as doctors look earlier and earlier into the incredibly complex process of pregnancy, and see a human being looking back at them.

There has always been an imbalance of rights in the abortion question.  Three people are directly involved: a mother who votes in favor of abortion, a father whose opinion doesn’t matter, and a baby who would unquestionably vote against the procedure, if presented with a ballot.  How much of our understanding of “equal rights” is shaped by the way we apportion rights between these three, and the larger families surrounding them?  Doesn’t the value we assign to life inevitably influence the value assigned to liberty, and then the pursuit of happiness?

“I understand that the economy will be the centerpiece of this election cycle,” said Huckabee.  “That’s fine.  It should be.  “But I also want to make it very clear that I will never vote for someone who doesn’t respect the sanctity of human life, because I believe that if a person does not respect your life, he ultimately will not respect liberty, or the sense of equality, that should be extended to every single American living under our Constitutional form of government.”

Those who disagree should try re-arranging the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a different order, and argue why they make more sense when presented that way.