By Daniel Davies
The first candidate is a southern governor who is outspoken about his Baptist faith and is highly involved in his church, including serving in places of leadership. He is a faithful family man, married to one woman for over 30 years, and places great emphasis on family values. His time as governor was marked by compassion for racial minorities, the poor, and trying to assist those stuck in the criminal justice system. He is committed to his principles, even when it brings disagreement with members of his own party in the state government.
The second candidate claims to be a Christian, but admits to not regularly attending church at times. He has been divorced, with children from both his past and current wife. He has a successful career as an actor on both big and small screens. While he has spent time as a political office-holder, over the last several years he has done short radio commentaries on current events which were syndicated nationally. This candidate was motivated to get into Republican politics by the conservative policies advocated by Barry Goldwater in the 1960s.
Who are these two candidates? You may have guessed that the above descriptions describe current 2008 Presidential nominees Mike Huckabee (#1) and Fred Thompson (#2).
You may not have realized that the same descriptions apply to the general election candidates in 1980, Jimmy Carter (#1) and Ronald Reagan (#2).
What can we learn from this comparison? Do Christian principles and beliefs necessarily make a good President? Many Christians, with the best intentions, are flocking to support the Mike Huckabee campaign. Conservative leaders, including Rush Limbaugh, Phyllis Schlafly, Ann Coulter, Grover Norquist, and GOP leaders in his home state of Arkansas have pointed out that Huckabee’s liberal policies as governor greatly damaged the conservative cause in Arkansas. Huckabee currently advocates a mixture of some conservative policies and some liberal ones. But should his current conservative positions on immigration and spending, for example, cause us to ignore his previous actions as governor? As former Sen. Zell Miller declared in his 2004 RNC “spitballs” speech, “Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about a man than twenty weeks of campaign rhetoric.” Mike Huckabee would be unable to keep the GOP’s coalition of religious, family-values, fiscal, and foreign affairs/national defense conservatives together. He has demonstrated an ignorance of foreign affairs that indicates that his foreign policy could resemble the disasters of 1976-1980 under Jimmy Carter. Fred Thompson has years of experience in foreign affairs, including chairing an advisory committee for Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice.
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Christians must realize that a candidate’s ability to lead the nation and the free world does not come from how openly he advocates his religious beliefs. The only 2008 candidate with a consistent conservative record on all issues is Fred Thompson, the new Ronald Reagan for the challenges of the 21st century.