Mike Huckabee Pushes for an American Theocracy

Mike Huckabee sounds like quite the Ayatollah wannabe:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said during an appearance Thursday on a Christian television show that he’s thinking about running for President to help the nation know where laws come from: God.

“We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God,” he said on the show “Life Today.”

When Huckabee added that he wasn’t demanding a theocracy, host James Robison said, “We have a theocracy right now. It’s a secular theocracy.”

“That’s it!” Huckabee said, describing the current political order as “humanistic, secular, atheistic, even antagonistic toward Christian faith.”

There’s an interesting discussion to be had about whether rights come from God or from man. Or, in more secular terms, whether rights are inherent or rather endowed by society. The Founders tended to come down on the side of inherent rights; I rather believe that they’re endowed by society, in party based on technological progress. For instance, given the easy availability of modern air conditioning, I believe that failing to provide basic climate controlled rooms to prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. I also believe that women have a right to birth control. That’s a controversial position to be sure, but one on which reasonable people can disagree.

But regardless of one’s view of rights, it’s an entirely different story to say that laws come from God. There is no secular way to interpret that comment. Laws cannot be inherent–only values can. Laws are at best the imperfect and often arbitrary attempted codification of our values. They are the imperfect rules we agree to live by, codifying our rights and binding us in an orderly society and (hopefully) protecting us from the wrongdoing of others. The notion that laws come directly from God is frankly a barbaric concept relegated in most parts of the world to the most backwards theocracies and the enemies of Western pluralism.

It matters little if Mike Huckabee is as dangerous as he sounds, or if he’s playing that way to appeal to scariest parts of the Republican base for his own presidential aspirations. His notions are frankly unAmerican, and belong more in Riyadh or Tehran than in Washington, DC.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.