If I were in an endorsing kind of mood, I wouldn’t pick Mike Huckabee. Nonetheless, his sudden uptick in Iowa is fascinating. In a contest that has so far dealt largely with the economy, immigration and national security, rather than social and cultural issues, David Broder makes the argument that there is something going on under the surface (free registration req’d.):
Huckabee understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived. […] [R]eal middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economic well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.
Social and human capital are what enable individuals and groups to thrive. When communities can’t generate this capital for whatever reason, governments step in, and their solutions are usually ham-handed, expensive, and inefficient. Fiscal conservatism, small governments and shrinking budgets are only viable when most people are functional, stable, and autonomous, and there has yet to be a more effective way to develop such people than in a family. I’m a bit puzzled that this theme has been lacking so far in the primary season, but perhaps it’s there, in the subtext. It will be interesting to see if it emerges more clearly in the debates ahead.