That’s the question to which I’m led by this post by Jonah G. at The Corner. His conclusion is worth pondering:
If carried to its logical conclusion Huckabeeism is rightwing progressivism. If I have to choose between leftwing progressivism and rightwing progressivism, I’d probably choose rightwing progressivism on most issues and leftwing progressivism on a few issues. But I don’t want to have to make that choice. I don’t think I will have to either.
But more importantly, it needs to be said that progressivism from the right is nearly as flawed and bound to fail as progressivism from the left (I say "nearly" because I think the Right’s understanding of the fallen nature of man is more realistic). The left believes government can love you. Now, Huckabee and (some of) his supporters believe that too. If he is successful — which I doubt very much — in taking over the GOP, both Republicans and Democrats will craft policies grounded in the desire to translate their "love" for people they don’t know into public policy. And both sides, as well as many innocent bystanders, will feel the baton of unintended consequences in their teeth. Of course, there would be some political successes which would be construed as "transformative" events. But, in the process great violence would be done to the principle of limited government and liberty and — I hope — conservatives would be on the sidelines, once again, standing athwart history yelling "Stop" to anyone who might have ears to hear.
There’s more along these lines here.
The question one can pose is whether and how religiously-inspired moralism can be chastened. I take it for granted that a stark claim on behalf of "liberty" can’t do the trick, because that’s not the end for the religiously-inspired moralist. "Liberty for what?" he’ll reply. If he wants to reach out, he might also say something about cultivating the conditions of liberty (such as a sense of self-restraint and responsibility), which don’t spring up by themselves.
Another chastening possibility is suggested by Jonah’s resurrection of the language of "unintended consequences," which was a central weapon in the arsenal of the old neoconservative critique of transformative public policy. This line of argument might grant the goodness of the end while questioning the efficacy of the means, not to mention emphasizing the ways in which fallible human beings can get things wrong. Moralists of all sorts don’t necessarily like to hear this, but Jonah is perhaps correct when he argues there’s a little more receptivity among those who think that human beings are fallen than among those who regard us as perfectible, if only we give the Enlightened Ones the resources to bring this New Age about.
So, anyone think the Christian Leader can be sobered up? Or is Mitt the sober version?