“Do The Right Thing: Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America.” By Mike Huckabee. Hardcover, 240 pages, Sentinel/Penguin Group. $25.95
During the bruising presidential race of 2008, one of the last — and most unlikely — men standing was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the affable former broadcaster and Southern Baptist minister whose down-home but passionate brand of conservatism won him an upset victory in the Iowa caucuses and triumphs in eight states.
Huckabee’s sixth book describes how his dark-horse candidacy rose above the challenges of a paltry budget, a lack of consultants, and no name recognition beyond his home state to inspire legions of grass-roots volunteers, capture the imaginations of more than 4 million voters, and place conservative values front and center on the political landscape.
And Huckabee believes those values will remain center stage, despite the lurch to the left the country took with the election of Barack Obama.
The book, “Do The Right Thing: Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America,” went on sale today.
[Editor’s Note: Get Mike Huckabee’s new book for FREE. Go here now.]
Reflecting on the election and on the book, Huckabee told Newsmax in a phone interview: “The conservative movement isn’t dead. Conservative principles are very much alive. But during the presidential contest, those who claimed to be conservative leaders became more committed to their own power than to those principles.”
As one example, he cited the failure of the influential pro-family, anti-abortion Arlington Group to give him an early endorsement.
“I was not coming to them,” Huckabee writes. “I was coming from them.”
But after several meetings, with particular resistance coming from former presidential candidate and conservative activist Gary Bauer, the endorsement never materialized.
“I finally realized that theirs was a house divided,” Huckabee says. But he ultimately concludes that the group’s endorsement “would have appeared to the outside world that I was a wholly owned subsidiary of them, and they themselves might have thought that they were solely responsible for any success I might have had.”
Equally “shocking” to Huckabee was the endorsement that the hugely influential evangelical pastor, John Hagee, gave to Sen. John McCain. Hagee “expounded on the ‘inevitability’ argument,” Huckabee writes, “and that he wanted to be in a position of influence with . . . the nominee. This was one of the many moments when I came to the conclusion that political expediency and pragmatism had supplanted prophetic principles among those who aspired to influence the process but unwittingly had become influenced by the process and, in fact, were held captive by it.”
Although Huckabee is known for his geniality and even temperament, he is not above throwing a few jabs, especially at rival Mitt Romney, whom he takes to task for being the only competitor who didn’t call with congratulations after the Iowa contest, thus delaying his acceptance speech by hours. And he unsparingly addresses his ideological differences with and criticism of the former Massachusetts governor, which is in stark contrast to the largely benevolent view he holds of the other candidates, including Democrats.
Huckabee attributes a good part of his campaign’s success to “politically homeless” voters: the “faith voters (often incorrectly dubbed the ‘evangelical voter,’ although many are Catholic, Jewish, or even nonreligious), who are driven by a simple desire to preserve simple principles of faith, family and freedom for their children . . . and are still committed to traditional concepts of marriage, respect for human life, family, work, and community involvement.”
These voters, who provided the margin of victory for Republican candidates in 2000 and 2004 elections, “were forced out of their political homes and onto the symbolic streets,” he says.
Throughout “Do The Right Thing,” Huckabee expands on his small-government, low-taxes, faith-family-and-freedom philosophy.
“Even as a young man,” he says, “I realized that Democrats and Republicans view the world through different lenses. Democrats focus on government, and we focus on the individual. Democrats put their faith in government, and we put our faith in people. Democrats give government more control over our lives, and we give individuals more control over their own destinies.”
His emphasis is on “vertical politics.”
“Simply put,” Huckabee writes, “when the dessert cart rolls around, most people don’t care who made the cheesecake, as long as it tastes good. Are schools better or worse? Test scores up or down? Job market getting better or worse? Crime rate going up or down? These are the questions that most citizens care about, yet most campaigns — especially during the primaries — run almost entirely on the horizontal scale,” which he says is composed of “left/right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican.”
Addressing the healthcare plans of John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, globalization, the Democrats’ indebtedness to teachers’ unions, and even the War on Terror, Huckabee says: “Let me tell you two words that should make you afraid, very afraid. Those words are ‘over time.’ ”
The Democrats’ dismantling of the employer-based system, Huckabee says, will become socialized medicine over time. When the Bush tax cuts, expire in 2010, “millions of folks will find themselves paying more under the alternative minimum tax” and “those breaks will disappear” over time. Globalization under a Democrat president will result in hiding “behind protectionism rather than vigorously and creatively engaging the world economy” over time, and the Democrats’ aversion to undertaking education reform will result in stagnation over time.
“Do The Right Thing” is a testimony to Huckabee’s bedrock conservatism and the promise he believes it still holds for America. The manuscript was completed in June, but Huckabee told Newsmax that, if given the opportunity, he would have included his thoughts about the government bailouts of the past few months, which he said he had warned about months ago, “and was pilloried for in the Wall St. Journal and National Review.”
“It was totally ridiculous for conservative leaders to wring their hands and then vote to nationalize banks and maybe the auto industry. It is anti-free-market and it won’t stabilize the markets but cause more disarray.”
Huckabee makes it clear that he doesn’t believe the Democratic president and Congress recently swept into office will “do the right thing.”
And that is the major frustration I have with this highly readable book. If Huckabee had postponed the publication date for just a few weeks, he might have been able to present many of his cogent and persuasive arguments not in theoretical terms but in terms of the concrete reality of America’s having elected the most liberal (some say socialist) president in our country’s history. And he could have elaborated on the specific ways the now-splintered Republican Party might find its way back to influence and power.
One way is spelled out in “Do The Right Thing,” when Huckabee sounds a clarion call for national service, urging all Americans to stand up for their country and to put “some skin in the game.”
“Our young people can teach or serve as teacher’s aides; fix our crumbling infrastructure; help with caring for preschoolers, seniors, and the mentally and physically disabled; provide assistance during natural disasters; guard our boarders; clean up cities; rehabilitate and build housing,” he writes. “Volunteerism can make amazing things happen.”
Huckabee’s campaign was proof of that. The youthful 53-year-old still is plunking his bass guitar (with his band, Capitol Offense), hosting his own weekly show on the Fox network, and is scheduled to deliver a five-day-a-week commentary on ABC radio.
Now seen as a major – and quite eloquent – spokesman for the conservative movement, curiosity about a future run for president his high. Will he run again?
“I simply don’t know,” Huckabee told Newsmax.
Book Features Folksy Reflections
Unlike a ghostwritten book in which the “voice” of the writer is unrecognizable from the real specimen, Huckabee’s book rings true. It will leave the reader with a sense of sitting next to a fireplace, listening to the former two-term governor describe in his inimitably folksy fashion both his political philosophy and the ups and downs of running for national office. On campaign travel: “Most [of the volunteers] worked with little or no sleep, lousy pay, and the kind of conditions that would be against the law in most places — or should be (not that I’m advocating regulation!).”On guns: “It’s also pretty clear where Democrats stand on guns: they really just don’t like them.”On small government: “The Founder [James Madison] had it right. Quite simply, the best government, the simplest, the least expensive, the most local and accountable, the least intrusive, the most efficient, the least threatening, is self-government.”On the model community: “Let me take you to an imaginary city that we’ll call ‘Hucktown.’ (We call it Hucktown because I want to, and I’m writing this book.) ”On gratitude: “I’m talking about the millions who voted for me, but especially the thousands of volunteers who donated, blogged, rallied, clapped, prayed, and most of, believed that this country still belonged to them . . . I will spend eternity looking up each one to say, ‘Thanks!’ ”
[Editor’s Note: Get Mike Huckabee’s new book for FREE. Go here now.]
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