When Liberal Panic is Unwarranted

I’m getting to the point where I find articles like Joe Conason’s "Mike Huckabee, the Constitution and Biblical Law" more amusing than a source of anger.  His ultimate objective, of course, is to show that Mike Huckabee is a dangerous theonomist who would impose a theocracy if elected President.

Such fear is based on the assumption that same imposition is a potential reality, which is why liberals spend so much time worrying about it.  If it were not so, they would ignore it.  But neither liberals nor Evangelicals understand that, as things stand now, the "Religious Right" is in no position to impose much of anything on the U.S.  There are two basic reasons for this.

The first is that the whole Evangelical game plan for life is well suited to get people off of the very bottom of society and equally ill-suited to get them to the very top.  People who posit George W. Bush as an example of the contrary forget that a) he comes from a prominent family with the educational and social opportunities that come with it, all of which are missing from most Evangelicals’ personal arsenals, and b) has done some patently unbiblical things (mostly in the Middle East) which indicate he is not as sharp of an Evangelical as many thought he was.

This leads to the second point: the whole Evangelical game plan is crippled by a defective paradigm of authority, one which is underscored by the fact that Huckabee, according to Conason, is a Gothard man.  As I discussed last month, Evangelicals’ "seamless" theory of authority (especially Gothard’s) is crippled by the structure of Evangelical churches.  Born in rebellion and diffuse in nature, Evangelical churches are unsuited for the task that theonomists would have them perform in a theocratic state.  Without a unified church ready to exercise state powers, Evangelicals’ hopes of imposing any form of theonomy will remain a mirage.  You simply cannot impose a Christian regime on society without a state church, and Evangelicals will not abandon their institutional and theological diversity to make that a reality.

Turning to more immediate matters, it’s unlikely that Huckabee has broad enough appeal even within the Republican Party to secure the nomination.  He may very well influence the ultimate selection of a nominee, either through the primary process (John Edwards is doing that on the Democrat side) or in a brokered convention.  But he lacks the financial resources and the broad base to get any further than that.  But, hey, Evangelicals have been influencing the party without a candidate for a long time (with very marginal results in the broad view.)

If there is a danger to liberals, it’s that the Christian influence in "flyover country" may make it more and more difficult to recruit suitable candidates to fill the ranks of the military once people in same flyover country realise that they’re fighting someone else’s wars with no benefit to themselves.  They’re already running out of patience with the Iraq adventure, as Julian Delasantellis’ article reminds us.  Liberals may not see how relevant this would be in a post-Bush post-neo-con world, but Bill Clinton found Haiti and Kossovo suitable objects of the U.S. armed forces, and these incursions were useful for his own purposes.  It’s hard to envision a Democrat president who would do otherwise unless they are very, very weak.

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