The Huck Effect [Nod to Eli at FDL for the idea]
David Sirota waxes intrigued by the Mike Huckabee candidacy.
"The uncool subject is class," author Bell Hooks once wrote. "It's the subject that makes us all tense." What an understatement, considering the two leading "change" candidates in the latest presidential polls.
Barack Obama is contending for the Democratic nomination as a candidate who avoids focusing on economic class. He asks us to believe — nay, to "hope" — that the interests of Wall Streeters underwriting his campaign can somehow be "brought together" with the interests of workers harmed by corporate America's wage, job and pension cutbacks.
By contrast, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is competing for the Republican nomination on a call for proletarian solidarity. Next to John Edwards (D), he is the "classiest" presidential candidate, explicitly deriding "plutocracy" and "the Club for Greed" that he correctly says runs Washington.
"There's a great need in this country to elect someone who reminds [voters] of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off," Huckabee thunders.
Well. "Thunders." That's a bit of hyperbole. For a Populist demagogue, Huckabee is as mild-mannered and slick as they come. But that's as may be. His comment resonates with a lot of Regular Folks, moreso than some of the Progressive nostrums heard on the Democratic side.
It seemed self-evident early on that your Presidential contest would be between Hillary and Mitt, Mitt winding up the winner after beating Hillary like a rented mule. The two of them, it seemed obvious, were the Corporate Choices to offer the Public, and as we have seen in the past, once those choices are made in the boardrooms, the American People go along with them with more or less enthusiasm, few (muffled) complaints, and the Republican pulls out a victory, even if that Republican is running as a Democrat. Mitt would win because it's still a Man's World, and Hillary Is Shrill and Nobody Likes Her. Tweety would have his aneurysm if Hillary pulled out a victory, and we can't have that.
From a Leftist perspective, both Hillary and Mitt are "Moderate" Republicans anyway. Hillary was a Goldwater Republican back in the day, never forget, and Mitt was the
But on the way to the nomination, both of the Corporate candidates ran into not quite as subdued and apathetic a Public as their handlers had told them to expect.
Mitt is falling down the rathole fast, as St. John McCain surges and thumps his chest and Hayseed Huckabee goes about his business overthrowing the bounden tenets of Republican Corporate Misrule. He's got the Good Republican Upper Crust all in a lather, too.
Meanwhile, the Democrat's own Populist candidate, John Edwards (no Sainthood for him) finds the going slippery to say the least, as he faces constant harrassment from his own Party and the Liberal Media who are intent on his prompt withdrawl from the race. Which he refuses to do.
And in the Democratic Party race, the Corporate blessing has shifted between Hillary and Barack, depending on who showed the greatest staying power and who could build the biggest Movement.
Barack has the Movement Thing down, but Hillary is far from out of the game. She is nothing if not tenacious. And her squeaker victory in New Hampshire after her disappointing showing in Iowa demonstrated there's some life in her campaign yet.
Over on the R side, Huckabee's Iowa victory is contrasted with his relatively poor showing in NH, which is taken as a sign that crusty New Englanders are not about to put up with Huckabee's Southern backwoods hick ways. Oh no, not them. They believe in Evolution. And Huckabee doesn't.
But Huckabee does such a great sales job, they say, and he's getting the job done for cheap, too (Mitt has spent how many millions of his own money? Wow. And here I thought John Kerry was going out there by lending his campaign $6 million, which was paid back, from his substantial fortune in 2004).
Huckabee keeps getting shown the door in the Republican contest, but he won't leave, and somewhat the same thing is happening with John Edwards on the Democratic side, though the Democrats are somewhat crueler about it (John Kerry, could you be more obvious a shill?), and the Media is intent on making Edwards go away by shunning him, whereas they at least give Huckabee a podium from time to time -- only to mock him and deride him and call him names and denounce his supporters after he's finished speechifying.
But Huckabee just keeps on keeping on, playing his bass and rocking the house, delivering his little Evangelical homilies and firing up class issues and resentments long dormant in Republican circles.
While he's focusing on attracting Republican votes for the nomination, he's obviously trying to pitch his appeal to Democratic Evangelical Populists as well by tapping in to their own class issues and resentments, and curry their favor with high-flown phrases about Christian Charity and all that.
If he's successful at his efforts, Democratic Corporate Progressives will have to recalibrate their own appeal if they intend not to lose to this hick from Arkansas, whose pitch to Americans in general is simplicity itself: "You've been done wrong, and I'm gonna fix it."
We might be looking at an upset here...
Then what will we do?