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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Mike Huckabee, Dominionist?

The odds are reasonably high that the Mike Huckabee presidential adventure is going to effectively come to an end in South Carolina this weekend, thanks to residual McCain strength in the state and an unlikely but much-reported mini-surge by The Big Dead–er, Fred–Machine.
But if the Huckster’s headed for the exit, he’s going out with flair. In Michigan, and more recently on Fox, the Arkansan has been talking about the need to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it conform with “God’s standards.” This has unsurprisingly led to a revival of commentary referring to Huckabee as a “Dominionist” or “Theocrat.”
As a connoisseur of Christian Right theory and practice, I have to say that while Huckabee may privately be a “dominionist” (and Sarah Posner is undoubtedly right that he’s been appealing to dominionists in the clergy and laity alike), his public pronouncements fall short of that particular uber-heresy.
“Dominionism” (or more formally, Christian Reconstructionism) generally refers to the belief that Holy Scripture should entirely displace secular sources as the legal foundation for society. Its adherents tend to think of the Bible–and specifically, the Mosaic Law–as a sort of Christian Sharia, that provides all necessary and sufficient guidance for the ordering of national and community life.
All Huck’s confessed to, so far as I am aware, is that when the Constitution is directly in conflict with major elements of “God’s standards”–specifically on the subjects of abortion and gay marriage–it should be amended to be brought into conformity. And as he points out, constitutional amendments on both subjects are part of the last Republican Party Platform. He has not, on the other hand, smitten Rudy Giuliani with the classic Dominionist argument that adulterers should be put to death, or suggested that Muslims should be converted to the True Faith on the edge of U.S. bayonets.
I’ve argued with fellow progressives about this for some time, but it bears repeating: if you happen to believe, on religious or other grounds, that legalized abortion is a vast Holocaust (a term Huckabee has used) extinguishing millions of human lives, then it’s not that surprising that you might consider a constitutional amendment to ban it appropriate. And if you also believe that heterosexual marriage is the fundamental pattern of life demanded by God and respected by all civilized societies, a constitutional amendment enshrining that belief isn’t a big reach, either.
Obviously (for anyone who’s read my stuff in the past) I very strongly disagree with Huckabee, on both religious and civic grounds, with respect to these beliefs, but it’s important to understand them instead of conflating them with a totalitarian theocratic ideology that would rewrite the entire constitution (as satirically suggested yesterday by Daily Kos’ Meteor Blades) to smite the infidels.
Ol’ Huck’s platform is nutty, all right, and I’m not one of those Democrats who’s inclined to give him a lot of props for his empty “populist” posturing, either. I’d love to see him get the nomination, because I think it would lead to a Democratic victory of–if you’ll excuse the expression–Biblical proportions. But let’s save the Dominionist tag for the Rough Beast who may someday begin slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

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