Huckabee Credits God For Rise in Polls

God clearly didn’t get involved in college football this year, as seen in Notre Dame’s losing season, but some believe God is still involved in picking political leaders. George Bush believes God chose him to be President and advised him to go to war in Iraq. Now, if a single report at can be believed, Mike Huckabee believes God is responsible for his rise in the polls

Mr. Huckabee also said that Divine providence was responsible for his recent surge in the polls in Iowa, as he noted that he is the candidate with much less capital firepower than his rivals. Despite his fundraising shortfall, his message seems to be resonating with voters.

While I doubt God has directly influenced the polls, Huckabee is partially right as his movement in the polls is a sign of how much the religious right now dominates the Republican Party. For years the Republicans would pander to the religious right for votes and then throw them a few bones once in office. This changed when George Bush pursued their agenda, and in the process drove out many moderates.

Huckabee has suddenly surged to first place in Iowa. The question now is whether the religious right is powerful enough to give one of their own the nomination despite being behind in fund raising and organization. If so, this could be the final straw in turning the Republican Party into a party limited to the south and scattered pockets of social conservatism.

Update: Video and transcript of Huckabee making this claim

A More Realistic View of The “Gentry Liberals”

Writing about either liberals or conservatives as a group can lead to erroneous conclusions as both groups are actually composed of people with a number of political viewpoints lumped together under common labels. Conservatives have long had to deal with views ranging from social conservatism to libertarianism. Now that liberalism has made a “comeback,” the left will similarly have to deal with differing views ranging from throwbacks to big government liberalism to the more libertarian liberalism seen in those who are voting Democratic in response to the authoritarianism of the right. We are bound to see disparaging articles written by one group about the other, such as today’s article entitled The Gentry Liberals in The Los Angeles Times by Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel.

Kotkin and Siegel complain that liberalism is making a comeback but it “isn’t your father’s liberalism, the ideology that defended the interests and values of the middle and working classes.” It might be more accurate to say that today’s liberalism is partially in the tradition of your great-great-great grandfather, but influenced by changes in the modern era rather than trying to live in the past as Kotkin and Siegel prefer.

Liberalism has changed over the years in reaction to conditions at the time. Liberalism was born as a philosophy based upon advocating liberty. Liberalism strayed from its classical roots during the progressive era when power was in the hands of a wealthy elite. The depression resulted in the liberalism of the New Deal in response to the problems of that era.

Today we live in a different, and more affluent era. While for a while the affluent more typically voted Republican, the GOP’s turn towards authoritarianism, the social policies of the religious right, and an insane foreign policy which undermines our national security, has led to an increasing number of affluent voters to voting Democratic. Kotkin and Siegel don’t welcome the new Democratic voters who are now allowing the Democrats to become a majority rather than remain a minority party as it has been in recent years:

Today’s ascendant liberalism has a much different agenda. Call it “gentry liberalism.” It’s not driven by the lunch-pail concerns of those workers struggling to make it in an increasingly high-tech, information-based, outsourcing U.S. economy — though it does pay lip service to them.

Rather, gentry liberalism reflects the interests and values of the affluent winners in the era of globalization and the beneficiaries of the “financialization” of the economy. Its strongholds are the tony neighborhoods and luxurious suburbs in and around New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and West Los Angeles…

Since the 1960s, the intellectual class epitomized by Schlesinger has grown many times over. Academic liberals have become something of a political power in their own right. College campuses constituted the largest single base of contributors to the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry. Professors are among the highly compensated and pampered professional cadres of the knowledge economy — which also includes lawyers, engineers, doctors, wealth managers, investors and other educated professionals — that make up the ranks of gentry liberalism and flatter the politicians who advocate its positions.

Kotkin and Siegel prefer a past before the information society transformed American. An increasing number of workers now are part of the information society as opposed to the working class of the past and modern liberalism reflects this. Liberalism is returning to its roots in supporting liberty, as well as in opposing the foreign policy of the neoconservatives. While there remain some New Deal liberals, many liberals, especially the young, are far more libertarian in their attitudes. Today’s liberals oppose the restrictions on individual liberty from the right. This includes both social conservatism of the religious right and the increase in power of the Executive Branch under George Bush.

Today’s liberals, as compared to many conservatives, are not hostile to the goals of the middle class but also are more skeptical of turning to big government as the solution for all problems. Liberals look to government where needed, such as with the health care crisis, but not in all matters.

The manner in which Kotkin and Siegel are throwbacks to big government liberalism as opposed to a more libertarian liberalism is seen in the politicians they support. They name John Edwards as their example of the Democratic candidate to come closest to their ideals. Edwards has been the candidate of big government programs while having little understanding of freedom or of the need to restore checks and balances on government. Siegel was also an adviser to Rudy Giuliani, who is not as liberal on social issues as often portrayed, while showing no more respect for freedom and checks and balances on government power than the Bush administration. They are hardly the ones to be advising liberals about what to think.

It is amusing to see that many on the right are quoting this article believing that it confirms their views of liberals. They apparently missed the point late in the article which notes, “The ascent of gentry liberalism remains largely unchallenged, in part because of the abject failure of the Republicans to address middle-class aspirations in a serious way…”

The greater irony is that the conservatives fail to understand how little there is left of their philosophy beyond the authoritarian views of the religious right and the neoconservatives. In past years Republicans would claim to be the party which represents those who are the greatest producers of wealth and are successful in our economy. Now that many of us affluent voters have rejected the Republicans and are voting Democratic, the conservatives don’t know how to respond intelligibly and must grasp onto any criticism of liberals. They fail to see that such criticism does nothing to support their views or their arguments against liberals.

The BCS Mess

Once again there will be controversy over the selection of teams playing for the BCS National Championship. Unless the computer rankings differ significantly from the polls, the title game will between Ohio State and LSU. This should be a good game and both are deserving contenders for the national championship. The problem is that several other teams also deserve consideration.

Ohio State is number one because they are the only team from a major conference with only one loss. However with Michigan unable to compete with Ohio State due to injuries to both its quarterback and tailback, Ohio State had a pretty easy schedule, and even lost to Illinois late in the season. I’m not so sure that they are better than the champions of other conferences who have two losses such as Oklahoma and Southern California. It also isn’t entirely clear that LSU is the most deserving of the two-loss teams to play Ohio State. We also have Hawaii who is the only unbeaten team but played a weaker schedule, making it difficult to determine how good they are compared to the major conference champions.

The inability of teams other than Ohio State and LSU to compete for the National Championship is only part of the problem, again assuming that the computer rankings don’t create even more controversy by choosing a team different from the poll rankings. Another problem is that the system created partially to preserve the New Year’s bowls is actually making them increasingly irrelevant.

We have had many exciting weekends during the regular season such as three, including the last two in a row, in which both the number one and number two teams were beaten. Multiple games each weekend were important as they had a bearing on who had a shot at getting into the National Championship game, and others still had an impact as to which teams would win conference championships and go to other BCS Bowls.

New Year’s Day will not have this much excitement. There might be several good games but they won’t matter as they will not influence who will play for or win the National Championship as the teams in the championship game will be determined later today.
The BCS system is the worst of all possible systems. In the past we would have four major New Year’s Day bowls and the winner could come from any of the four, and rarely such as when BYU went undefeated, from other bowls. It is possible for the top two or more teams to lose, opening up the National Championship to several other teams. I can even recall a year when the number five team jumped up to number one after the bowl games. New Year’s Day was important, generally with a number of games which mattered.

This system naturally led to controversy as there would often be two or more teams with major victories and it came down to a vote as to which would win the mythical National Championship. Sometimes there was even a split championship as different teams wound up number one in different polls.

The current system was devised to attempt to have the National Championship settled on the field instead of by a vote. The problem is that if there wasn’t a clear number one team after the bowl games, there isn’t a clear number one and two pair before the bowls. At least the bowls provided further reasons for selecting the best team as we got to see a variety of games between teams from different conferences. I would prefer to return to the old system as opposed to the current if these were the only options. This year we would see a variety of conference champions play each other and could then choose the best. Even undefeated Hawaii could be considered if they could beat a major team. There might still be controversy as to which bowl winner deserves to win, but New Year’s Day would matter.

Many argue for a full scale play off but this is unlikely to happen. One idea which has floated around since the BCS was created which makes sense is to use the New Year’s Day Bowl games as the start of a mini-play off. Eight teams would play in four major bowls, and from there we’d have the winners continue to play until we were down to only one. This way New Year’s Day would still matter. While there could still be controversy over which teams deserve to play in the four major bowls, it is unlikely that the best team in the country would be excluded.

So far there hasn’t been enough support for this many games after New Year’s for this to occur, but there does seem to be more talk of going to a “plus one” system. This would return to a system like the pre-BCS system of bowls on New Year’s Day. After New Year’s Day two of the bowl winners would be selected to play for the National Championship. This would also be preferable to the current system as New Year’s Day would again matter. While any selection of only two teams could also lead to controversy, a selection after the major bowl games would also be more meaningful than it is now. Under the old system when there was disagreement over who should be number one, the controversy was generally between only two teams. While not perfect, a “plus one” system could solve many of the problems the BCS now creates.

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