Mike Huckabee's Long Battle Against Libertarianism


Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced this weekend that he's quitting his Fox News show while he thinks about whether to run for president again. If recent history is any guide, there will be space in the GOP primaries for a Huck-style populist social conservative; Rick Santorum filled it in 2012, Huckabee himself in 2008, Alan Keyes in 2000. Another throughline knits together these disparate pols: hostility to libertarians.

Here's Huckabee in May 2008:

The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it's this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it's a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says "look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don't get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it." Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it's not an American message. It doesn't fly. People aren't going to buy that, because that's not the way we are as a people. That's not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it's just there to be as little of it as there can be.

And in November 2008:

The real threat to the Republican Party is something we saw a lot of this past election cycle: libertarianism masked as conservatism. And it threatens to not only split the Republican Party, but render it as irrelevant as the Whig Party.

And February 2010:

CPAC has becoming increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn't go this year

 And January 2011:

the governor gave an all-out defense of his tax hikes while governor of Arkansas on the grounds that they were the only responsible course of action to repair state roads. He snorted with derision at "libertarians" who fail to recognize that "we don't have a health-care crisis in this country, but a health crisis." He spoke with passion and knowledge on the need for preventative care to bring down exorbitant costs. And then, without the least amount of prompting, he mustered a vigorous defense of Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity.

This antipathy, of course, makes all the sense in the world, since Mike Huckabee's applied ideology is often the opposite to that of libertarians.

I went on Huckabee's show back in the summer of 2013 to talk about divisions within the GOP: