Never Mind the Paulmania, Here's the Huckster!


Mike Huckabee's sudden status as a statistically plausible GOP front-runner is as good an excuse as any to link to Ryan Sager's interesting "Crackpot Revolution" rejoinder to the contention (made by Nick Gillespie and I in the Washington Post) that Paulmania represents a "libertarian moment." Excerpt from Sager:

While I'd be delighted if the GOP were gripped by libertarianism—that is, a resurgent commitment to economic and social freedom—the truth is actually quite the opposite. […]

[W]hile he claims to be for free trade in principle, Paul has earned the praise of Lou Dobbs for railing against America's involvement in NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and every other trade accord under the sun. In Wednesday night's debate, he could even be found endorsing conspiracy theories about a North American Union and one-world government.

In other words, the Ron Paul boomlet resembles that of the real surprise in the GOP race so far—the success of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who polls twice as high as Paul nationally (9 percent versus 4.5 percent). He's also pulled even with Mitt Romney in Iowa.

Huckabee is the opposite of a libertarian. As governor, he hiked taxes repeatedly and oversaw an explosion in state spending. He's explicitly running as a "different kind of Republican," positioning himself as the heir to President Bush's compassionate conservatism (a.k.a. big-government conservatism). His populist economic message includes expanding farm and alternative-energy subsidies and curbing free trade (to insulate us from the global economy). […]

Big-government, big-religion, globophobic, populist conservatism—this is the message that's got real traction in the first Republican primary. Not Ron Paul's gold-standard nostalgia or support for medical marijuana.

Sager's reason archive here.