Mike Huckabee’s Politics of Divisiveness

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Photo by Gage Skidmore.

If you have been reading the newspapers or watching various news shows recently, you can’t help but feel inundated with former Arkansas governor and current presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee shilling his latest book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy on every program possible. He even appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Writing a book is a prerequisite for anyone who wishes to run for President. It really doesn’t matter what kind of book, they are all the same: “Blah blah blah, AMERICA, blah blah blah.” To prove my point, here is a list of the most recent books from the 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls:

But Huckabee’s latest book bothers me the most. Just the title, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy tells me everything I need to know about what is in it. The entire “novel” is continuing to promote the idea that the elite East and West Coast literati aren’t the real America. This book will make sure I know that being from the middle of the country or as Huckabee claims these elitists call it, “flyover country,” is better than living with the snobs in Hollywood and New York City.

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I really find this tactic of pitting Americans against each other despicable. Sarah Palin famously started this trend in 2008 when she proudly began this “us versus them” rhetoric:

We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hardworking very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.

Huckabee's new bookCurrently, Huckabee is propagating the ridiculous notion that the only people who are good, decent, hardworking, and patriotic live between California and Washington, D.C. His book is not a serious take on the real cultural differences between liberal and conservative America. As a religious conservative, he could have had the courage to write a book that tried to find common ground between two very different ideologies. That book would have been quite meaningful. It might’ve softened the tone of discourse between citizens from different parts of this country.

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Instead, Huckabee took the lazy way out. He wrote a book that escalated the existing class warfare. He demonizes those who live in “Bubbleville” (New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC) and proudly stands behind “Bubbaville” (everywhere else).

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He likes to opine on how he misses the America of his youth where apparently everything was simple and folks could talk about different political positions without yelling at each other. Back then, there were standards of decency. Patriotism was alive and well; Every home hung an American Flag, and religious freedom meant you could be a Baptist or a Southern Baptist. Everyone was happy. Women didn’t curse or smoke and Beyonce would have never had the chance to be pimped out by her husband. Sure, Huck, this America of yore of patriotic perfection never really existed, especially in your racist and racially segregated Arkansas. Women didn’t have a glass ceiling to crack because they were too busy cleaning it.

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This idea that Huckabee expounds, that because of all the cultural changes in the last 50 years only his kind of Americans are still worthy, is offensive. It continues the ugly divisions on lines of religious fundamentalism and political extremism as one reviewer of his book wrote.

I happen to live in this Bubbleland that Huckabee mocks. I am a progressive liberal. I am not an elitist simply because of where I live. I am solidly middle-class. I eat meat, pay too much in taxes and will never be rich. I probably have more in common with Huckabee’s people than he does, seeing that he is building a $3 million home in Blue Mountain Beach, a beach resort in Florida. Huckabee is worth approximately $7 million from book sales and his lucrative Fox News show contract. I live in a walk-up in a section of New York most people never go. Now who is the elitist?

The difference between Huckabee and myself is that I don’t begrudge him his lifestyle. He earned it. He deserves to roll around in his bed of money if that’s what he wants. Go, be rich! Build a beach house, drive a fancy car and fly business class. I’m fine with that. In fact, most of us liberal elitist snobs would agree. You work hard and you deserve the compensation. But Huckabee is a hypocrite. He stokes the fuel of unjust anger when he pits the “un-American liberals” against “real Americans” who actually work for a living. When he maligns the Harvard educated and claims that a state college education is just as good, he is unfair to those who worked their ass off to go to a premiere university that they probably can’t even afford.

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Real Median Household Income: New York
Real Median Household Income: New York
Real Median Household Income: California
Real Median Household Income: California

Huckabee seemingly enjoys pitting the Heartland and Southerners against everyone else. He likes to keep these myths of difference alive. But what he is doing is helping to destroy any semblance of cooperation and compromise between fractious political parties. He has no interest in looking for common ground and putting it under a magnifying glass. The more he riles up his base, the more his base gives his PAC money which then employs several members of his family to a tune of over $400,000.

I assure you that I have much more in common with a single woman living in Missouri than Huckabee does. It benefits his presidential ambitions to tell us over and over again how different we all are. His message that the single woman in Missouri is a far better American simply because of where she lives is not just disingenuous but dangerous. It encourages the angry “us-versus-them” narrative he and his nasty ilk created. According to Huckabee, being a real American has nothing to do with what you inherently believe but where your mail is delivered.

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Here’s a little news for Huckabee. Based on the 2010 census, the median household income in California was $61,094 compared to the national average of $53,046. So much for living large in La La Land. The median income for people in New York State was $58,003. Not exactly Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

So, contrary to what this self-serving con-artist wants us to believe, we all pretty much want the same things. We want lower taxes for the middle class, a good paying job, affordable health care so we do not become bankrupt through illness or injury, an the right to marry who we want (OK a stretch here). We also want corporations to have their tax loopholes slammed shut. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think we are much closer to agreeing than Huckabee would admit. He can’t admit it since his presidential bona fides rest on his brand of fiery Baptist preacher divisive politics.

Although now that he quit his job at Fox News and is unemployed, maybe he can finally relate to the rest of us.