With front-runner Republicans garnering only lackluster support from the base, and with Fred Thompson (my own personal favorite) still not in the race, a lot of conservatives have turned their attention to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. And on the face of things he seems like a good candidate. He’s a popular southern governor (governors have a better track record at getting into the White House than Senators) and he’s a deft politician and executive.
Please he’s got a cool sounding last name. Huckabee. Huck-a-bee. It just rolls off the tongue.
But there is a big problem with a Huckabee candidacy, however. At least as far as conservatives are concerned. He’s a nanny-stater. He has become famous for getting himself in shape (he used to be quite, well, fat) and that focus on healthy living has translated into his favoring policies that don’t just encourage Americans to live healthy but actually use the coercive force of government to make them live a certain way.
Evidence? Consider his support for a nation-wide smoking ban.
This position from Huckabee is problematic for conservatives for two reasons:
First, being conservative means being a federalist, and a ban on smoking from the federal level is hardly something any federalist should support. If our founders had intended for smoking to be illegal (and why would they want that given early America’s tobacco trade?), or even if they wanted Congress or the President to have the power to ban smoking, they’d have put that in the Constitution. But they didn’t. Instead, they put the 10th amendment in the Constitution which delegated social issues like smoking to the states. Of course, in recent years politicians have been fond of ignoring the 10th amendment and using the interstate commerce clause (which is what Huckabee would undoubtedly use to justify his national ban) to stick their fingers into all sorts of state’s issues. Again, that’s not something any conservative should support. And if that’s what Huckabee wants to do, no conservatives should support him.
Second, there’s also the simple question of freedom. I think we can all agree that smoking is unhealthy and that all Americans would be better off in their lives by avoiding it. But putting that aside, there is nothing illegal about tobacco. Adults across the nation can light up all they want, and government simply oversteps it’s bounds when it starts dictating smoking policy to individuals and private property owners. Not only is it anti-freedom (remember that freedom means being free to make bad decisions along with good ones) it sets a dangerous precedent whereby the government can begin to ban other things determined not to be good for us.
Like fattening foods. Or salt. And if you think I’m exaggerating, look at all the efforts around the nation to pass bans on trans fats and blame restaurants like McDonald’s for their unhealthy customers.
Huckabee, to put it simply, represents the nanny state. A big-government, “we’re here to take care of you” mentality that no right-thinking individualist should be interested in. If he gets the GOP nomination, I will be terribly disappointed.