The Crunchy Con likes this smart liberal Mormon take on Huckabee. Russell Arben Fox would kinda like downmarket evangelicals to strike out in a Christian Democratic direction, but he wouldn’t object to a meliorist Huckabee influence in the Republican coalition. Here’s the meat of his argument:
Now, let’s be clear about something: Huckabee’s populism and anti-elitism is far more a matter of attitude than of policy. When we see Huckabee outside of the populist hothouse and he (and Edwards) created in Iowa—as he moves full force into NH and beyond—we’ll probably see him (as Ross Douthat has predicted and hopes) start talking about how he’s actually a mainstream conservative, and he’ll drop a lot of the ambitious, quasi-populist stuff that used to move blue-collar Catholics and others back in the good old days to vote with a passion. I consider this terribly unfortunate, but almost a surety nonetheless.... I continue to insist...that there can nonetheless be a "small-p" populism, a genuine interest in making life more livable for the non-elites out there, that co-exists with major party platforms and all their compromises. Maybe that makes me just a meliorist at at heart, though I hope not. Huckabee has a lot of crackpot conservative ideas..., but then again, he genuinely tried to make public education workable in an Arkansas under all sorts of financial and legal pressures, all while keeping the door open for home schoolers, school choice, and charter schools; he drew a line against Arkansas being the latest state to make itself addicted to the easy money promised (but rarely in full delivered) by advocates of state gambling, which is of course rarely anything more than a tax on the desperate and gullible; and so forth. A true defender of local authority and economic sovereignty? Er, no. But more populist than the venture capitalist from Massachusetts or the wanna-be Caesar from New York City? Definitely.