Mike Huckabee Threatens To Leave The GOP Over Gay Marriage; Don’t Believe Him
Mike Huckabee is threatening to leave the GOP if the party backs down on same-sex marriage. He's bluffing.
Mike Huckabee is threatening to leave the GOP if the party backs down on opposition to same-sex marriage:
Former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican also-ran Mike Huckabee has an ultimatum for his party: Push back on same-sex marriage or he’s gone. During the American Family Association’s Tuesday morning broadcast, Huckabee vented his frustration with the GOP’s mild response to the Supreme Court’s decision not to rule on same-sex marriage this term.
“If the the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue and while you’re at it, go ahead and say abortion doesn’t matter either,” he said. “At that point, you lose me. I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand.”
Huckabee is certainly challenging Senator Ted Cruz for issuing the most extreme response to the court’s decision. Court news. As Brian Beutler at The New Republic argued, the “scariest reaction” wasn’t Cruz, who promised to introduce a constitutional amendment that would prevent federal courts or government from voiding state laws on marriage, but from Huckabee, who implied that states should just ignore the Supreme Court.
“It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys, and judges think that a court ruling is the ‘final word.’ It most certainly is not,” Huckabee wrote in a statement on his website. ”It remains the court’s opinion. It is NOT the ‘law of the land’ as is often heralded. The courts can’t make law. They can interpret it and even rule that a law is unconstitutional, but they have no power to create it or enforce it.” During a Tuesday interview with Iowa talk show host Steve Deace, Huckabee went further and speculated about what would have happened if the legislative and executive branches hadn’t enforced the court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade.
The uniting theme of his remarks has been that conservatives shouldn’t accept defeat, the way Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has. They also shouldn’t keep quiet. Huckabee argued that a lot of people on the “left coast” and the “bubbles of New York and Washington” are convinced that if Republicans “don’t capitulate on the same-sex marriage issue … then we’re going to be losers.” He insists the opposite is true, and if Republicans “continue in this direction, they guarantee they’re going to lose every election in the future.”
Huckabee isn’t the only one who is making threats like this in the wake of Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court to decline to hear appeals in same-sex marriage cases directly affecting five states, and indirectly affecting six others. In the immediate aftermath of that decision, leaders of several conservative groups that have been vocal in the same-sex marriage debate decried the court’s decision. Subsequently, other prominent groups representing social conservatives have warned potential candidates for the Republican nomination in 2016 that they shouldn’t stray from the GOP’s current opposition to marriage equality and support for so-called “traditional marriage.” On the other side of the coin, of course, there are Republican politicians such as Governors Scott Walker, Mike Pence, and Gary Herbert who have all basically accepted the Supreme Court’s determination that the Supreme Court’s denial of the appeals that they filed on behalf of their states means that the battle against marriage equality in their states is over. There’s also been quite an obvious bit of silence on this issue from Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, other potential 2016 candidates such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and others. Finally, as I noted in the wake of Monday’s events, the Supreme Court’s decision to not take the cases has opened a door for the GOP that gives it a way out of a position on same-sex marriage that is increasingly unpopular with the American public as a whole and even with young voters who identify themselves as Republican.
Given all of that, it is perhaps understandable that Huckabee and other social conservatives would be upset at a Republican Party that seems to be strangely silent during what has arguably been the most significant week of legal developments for same-sex marriage since the decision in U.S. v. Windsor was handed down in June 2013. We are, after all, reaching a point where the debate over the issue itself will be largely irrelevant, if we haven’t reached that point already. For example, it’s been more than two years now since any state has passed a law banning same-sex marriage and it seems unlikely that any such ban would pass muster anywhere in the country where it isn’t already on the books today. Since that point, and accelerated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor, the ultimate outcome of the debate over same-sex marriage has become more and more apparent. Legally and legislatively, support for same-sex marriage seems to be unstoppable, and while there may be some bumps along the way depending on what the Sixth and Fifth Circuits do with the cases before them, there seems to be very little question that same-sex marriage will ultimately be recognized nationwide. In the face of that, it’s no surprise that the national Republican Party is seeking to find a way to back away from the way it has approached the issue in the past and, for the moment at least, silence in the face of the events of this week is an entirely rational response for a party that realizes that there’s more to its future than the social conservatives.
All of this being said, Huckabee’s rant, as well as the comments of others on the right who have made similar threats to leave the GOP over this issue or others, should be dismissed as nonsense. Much like the people who said in the wake of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 that they would leave the country, or Sarah Palin’s talk about leaving the GOP and forming a third party that would do nothing but guarantee future Democratic victories, this is nothing more than whining and foot-stomping combined with a large dose of fiery rhetoric designed to stir up the base going forward. Regardless of what happens with the same-sex marriage debate between now and 2016, neither Mike Huckabee nor any other social conservative is going anywhere, in no small part because there’s no place for them to go. The Constitution Party is a small third party that would seem to line up with their values, but moving to that kind of a party would make them largely irrelevant. Huckabee and those like him know this, which is why they aren’t going anywhere. Instead, one should take rhetoric like this as a sign that the social conservatives intend to keep pressing the battle inside the GOP, even if it goes to the extent of openly campaigning against Republicans running for office. This may also be an effort by Huckabee to set up a run for the Presidency in 2016, either for himself or for some other socially conservative standard bearer like Rick Santorum or Ted Cruz, in which case it all just means that the battle that many Republicans are starting to mount against the social conservatives in their party is only just beginning.