I’ve been doing some research on the candidates running for the presidency. Living in Minnesota as I do, the field of candidates will probably be reduced by the time I get my chance to voice an opinion. Some of the individuals in the race are well-known to me; others not so much.
Quick quiz: Guess who said this?
“They don’t control me. I’m not one of theirs. I’m not one of those guys that just owe my soul to the people on Wall Street. I’m not a wholly-owned subsidiary of them. I don’t live in the circles of power in Washington. I really do come right up from the people. . . . “
The correct answer is Mike Huckabee. To continue his quote:
There’s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican Party. They wanted us to be a part of it. And then one day one of us actually runs, and they say, Oh, my gosh. Now they’re serious. They don’t want to just show up and vote. They actually would want to be a part of the discussion, and really talk about issues that include hunger and poverty and things that ought to be really a concern to every American, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. . . .
Huckabee and Democratic candidate John Edwards seem to be tapping into the slumbering populist sentiment that crops up anytime life in the USA takes a turn for the worse. That tactic appears to be paying off, at least for Huckabee, since he seems to be on track to win the Republican caucuses in Iowa. This is interesting to me because as Huckabee’s quote relays, he’s not exactly the darling of the Republican establishment.
I can’t quite remember where I read it now, but I saw a really good forum posting about the candidates talking about how the Republicans are the party that has mixed the wealthy elite conservatives with the evangelical voting bloc, while the Dems have managed to meld wealthy elite social liberals (who are often on-board with the neoliberal policies of globalization) with minorities and working folks. In both cases, whichever party that wins control of the government pursues the normal pro-business, pro-elite fiscal & foreign policies while paying lip service to whichever social platform that helped to elect them. This is how things have been done recently.
Huckbee and Edwards are threats to this establishment because of their populist stances. By appealing to truly helping out the lower classes, both candidates are threatening to drive wedges between the two main groups in their respective parties. This is one reason why neither candidate is well-supported by the establishment media, as is reported here and here among other places.
A good showing for either candidate in the primaries could mean serious problems for their party in 2008 and thereafter. Religious right voters are showing signs of tiring of being pandered to during elections only to be ignored afterward, and sooner or later more lower-class Democratic voters will figure out that the candidates they are putting up for election (Clinton, Obama, etc.) are pursuing the same pro-NAFTA legislation that is causing their jobs to go overseas. My guess is that if any of the front-runners other than Huckabee wins, we’ll see more of the same pro-business economic policies that have helped to get us in the mess we’re in, regardless of which party actually gains control of the White House.
As George Ure is fond of stating, we’re fooled into believing that the main axis in American politics is the left/right spectrum, when in reality it’s an up/down one. Both major parties chase corporate donations shamelessly, so is it any wonder that neither party protests bills that screw over common Americans while giving big business every break possible? One good thing I can see out of a final victory by either Huckabee or Edwards is that it might shake things up in the two major parties enough that we could see some real political change happen in this country. The way things are going economically, I can see support for a rising groundswell of Kunstler’s ‘formerly middle class’ looking to take out their electoral anger on both parties… maybe not in 2008, but if the economy continues to tank 2010 and 2012 for sure.
We’ll see who’s left in the races when the Minnesota primaries show up. For what it’s worth, I not a supporter of Huckabee or Edwards… I’m just using them as examples of how each is viewed as a threat part of their party’s establishment. I like some of what Ron Paul has to say, but need to do more research on his views.