Huckabee the Charmer
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Mike Huckabee. To say that we don’t exactly see eye to eye on some issues would be an understatement. He believes this country needs more guns to deter violent crime. I think we need less. He does not support the Affordable Care Act. I do. He believes marriage is between one man and one woman. I have a gay sister.
Clearly we have some differences that makes remaining unbiased difficult. So when he walked in the doors of the Quality Manufacturing Corporation, I wasn’t too eager to shake his hand. But boy, he was sure eager to shake mine. He greeted me with a smile and a firm handshake, saying “Hi, I’m Mike Huckabee.”
He proceeded to shake the hands of the twenty or so employees who greeted him at the door. He repeated their names after they told him, as if he fully intended to remember the name of every Iowan he met. When he stopped long enough to have a full conversation with an employee, he noted a similarity that the two shared. When he encountered a pair of brothers, he light-heartedly asked “which one is smarter?” Everyone laughed.
The man knew how to talk. He was personable, friendly, and humble. For a minute, I forgot that this was the man who sees my sister as inferior. The man who blamed the Newtown tragedy on the lack of God in public schools. All things that I take serious issue with. It was only when one employee thanked him for fighting for religious freedom that I snapped out of the Huckabee trance I was in.
But almost immediately, much to my chagrin, I was pulled back into it, despite everything House of Cards had taught me about southern politicians. The man’s a charmer. In his full suit, he clearly didn’t look like the average factory worker, but this did not stop him from relating with those in the room. He expressed his amazement at the craftsmanship occurring at the factory, noting the precision and hard work that went into every finished good. He struck a chord with the blue-collar workers when he emphasized his intention to keep jobs in the States, not ship them overseas. Although Quality Manufacturing Corporation does not make weapons, he emphasized that if we outsource our weapons manufacturing to other countries, we will be controlled by them.
Jeff Link, an employee at the factory, liked Huckabee. Mainly he appreciated Huckabee’s down-to-earth attitude. When I asked him if Huckabee had his vote, he said it was between him and Trump. When it seems like most Republicans are still deciding between five or six candidates, Huckabee must have been doing something right to fare so well with Mr. Link.
Link also liked Huckabee’s proposal for the “FairTax” plan, which eliminates income tax and replaces it with a consumption tax of about 30%, not accounting for wealth. Huckabee claimed that our current tax system punishes success and his plan allows the poor more purchasing power. However, his plan has been heavily criticized by conservatives and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, which found that “the average rate of the lowest income group would exceed 33 percent, while the average for the top group would fall to less than 16 percent.” But to a group of workers who would love to cash their paychecks in full and reap the immediate benefits, I can see how the “FairTax” looked appealing.
I can’t say it enough. Huckabee can speak exceptionally well, especially in person. If Huckabee and I didn’t fundamentally disagree on almost everything, I could see voting for him out of sheer likeability. It’s a popular misconception that Huckabee carries only the evangelical vote. He also carries a decent amount of the working class. And if he can charm all of Iowa the way he did the factory, he may stand a mighty fine chance.
Aaron Feldman is a political science and data analytics double major from Clarendon Hills, Illinois. He loves Bruce Springsteen and poorly attempting his songs on guitar. Follow him on Twitter.