“States’ rights” — or “federalism” — was the line that Republicans took to trying to win votes in those states where strong majorities wanted to discriminate against African-Americans without losing votes in state for such discrimination was anathema.
Now we have a Republican Party that is committing itself nationally to the Expanded and Rewritten (by John Roberts) Religious Freedom Restoration Act providing a license to discriminate to businesses not in individual states that have passed RFRAs but nationally. The calculus of thus look much more hazardous:
Across the Wide Missouri: Elizabeth Stoker Brunig: Mike Huckabee Announces 2016 Presidential Run: Why He’ll Lose: “Mike Huckabee… when he inevitably bows out of the Republican primaries…
…it will only be one more loss in a greater, longer defeat in America’s culture wars. Prior to his post as the governor of Arkansas, Huckabee was a communications director for James Robison, one of those quintessential televangelists of the 1970s and ‘80s… among those enterprising evangelicals who managed to convert Billy Graham’s right-wing-funded gospel empire into the confederation of conservative Christians known as the Religious Right. In the ensuing romance between the evangelical voting bloc and the Republican Party, Robison and President Ronald Reagan enjoyed a cozy relationship, the sort that typified all the GOP believed it could get out of evangelical voters, and all evangelicals supposed they could accomplish through Republican leadership. Together, they were on the offensive in the culture wars, which they were determined to win.
This bond of mutual expectations lasted well into the Bush era, with President George W. Bush continuing the tradition of getting tight with celebrity pastors…. Bush received his highest level of support from any demographic group from white evangelicals in 2004, earning 78 percent of the white evangelical vote…. “Jesus Camp”, the 2006 documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, seems now a kind of time capsule…. What is curious now is the enthusiastic certainty that permeates the whole film, attached to Bush and the Republican establishment… evangelicals really believed that the reclamation of America for God was at hand….
Like his spiritual predecessor Bush, Huckabee counted on support from churches and religious organizations… to gin up votes and funding…. Huckabee’s rapport with evangelical pastors and their sizable congregations… [did not] produce the income he needed to take 2008…. With federal investigators closely monitoring donations made by churches and pastors, Huckabee’s funding dried up, and his campaign shut down. (This funding disaster is perhaps why Huckabee has since vociferously argued that churches should beat the feds to the punch and give up their tax-exempt status voluntarily; needless to say, churches haven’t taken the bait.)….
Huckabee’s old friend James Dobson has greeted the possibility of nationwide same sex marriage as a harbinger of the downfall of western civilization, and Huckabee himself has warned that Christianity is on the brink of criminalization in America…. Compared with the rhetoric Huckabee was pushing in 2006… Huckabee’s dreary and defensive tone is remarkably downbeat…. Evangelicals are now… seeking only to be left to their own individual practices in the spaces they still hold. It is to this constituency Huckabee will now turn for support…. Evidently aware that he can no longer count on fundraising in sanctuaries, Huckabee has turned to shilling for bullshit diabetes cures on internet infomercials to bring in cash. This, too, is an old trick in the celebrity evangelical book…. Evangelicals are frightened and angry and looking for the sort of president who will protect them from the onslaught of the world around them, which is still rapidly changing. Huckabee, with his folksy charm and church basement coffee-talk demeanor, was their preferred protector in 2008, and perhaps always will be…
Originally published at www.bradford-delong.com.