By tomorrow night we should know a great deal more about the shape of the presidential race, and it's possible that we may look back someday on the last couple of weeks and see that it was all quite inevitable. On the other hand, we might find ourselves asking how in the world we ever could have thought such ridiculous things as we did. Such is the nature of politics.
There's a great deal being written about the two front-runners, Huckabee and Obama. Some still think of their campaigns as long-shots (Huckabee's in particular), but unquestionably they're being taken more seriously than they were a few months ago. With each man, his primary strength - that he's not a Washington insider - mirrors his primary weakness - his lack of experience in a dangerous world. It's a nice snapshot of life in general, where our strengths and weaknesses tend to be flip sides of the same coin.
I can't say much about Obama since my politics don't swing that way, but Huckabee remains an intriguing figure. It's not that I'm supporting Huckabee; I admit that I don't really care for the man either personally or politically, but every time I try to dismiss him there's something that causes me to come up short. It's an angle that I don't think you see discussed in conventional political circles, and that's why we're going to discuss it here right now. Let's call it the "God Bless America" angle, and as we discuss it understand that there's no irony or cynicism intended in that statement.
Huckabee is the rare Republican, socially conservative and economically moderate (or liberal, if you will). Contrast that with the man who remains the GOP favorite, Rudy Giuliani. Again, flip sides of the coin: Rudy is the social liberal, the economic conservative (or so the perception remains). Huckabee's major weakness - the lack of experience - is Giuliani's strength. (Witness his "Tested. Ready. Now" theme.) To those who value national sercurity as the premier issue in the campaign, Giuliani's strength in this area outweighs all his other faults.
But let's return to that "God Bless America" idea. It's pretty much an ingrained part of our cultural thought through the generations that America has a special relationship with God. Washington's belief in "Providence," Lincoln asking if "we are on God's side," Reagan's "shining city on a hill," all point to this belief. Whether you're for it or against it, there's no denying the belief is there.
Now, if you grant that this special relationship does exist, you also have to think that we've been trying His patience mightily for the last few decades. Again, regardless of your own personal beliefs, you can't really challenge the fact that America is a much different country than she was fifty years ago, or even fifteen.
This said, let's return to the question of Huckabee and Giuliani. If that special relationship between God and America still exists, what would the election of either of these men mean? And here is the point to which I've been building: if Huckabee, the social conservative, the believer in family values, is truly the man who best exemplifies that relationship, would it not be reasonable to conclude that he might receive some kind of Divine Guidance regarding those areas in which he lacks experience? He may well be naïve in the extreme when it comes to foreign policy, dealing with international crisis, defending the country from terrorism - but would it really matter? If God is truly active in the lives of men, could not one assume that He would be particularly active in the administration of a man who most closely reflects His desires?
Conversely, one looks at Giuliani - his tattered personal life, his support for abortion rights, his acceptance of what some would consider torture - and the same question arises. Would God go out of His way to provide that Divine Guidance? We all know of situations where a plan is worked to perfection, is implimented flawlessly, and yet for some reason still fails. Accepting this line of thinking, isn't it reasonable to assume that Giuliani's perceived strengths could turn out to be merely that - a perception, and nothing more?
Again, I want to stress that this shouldn't be seen as any kind of advocacy. I'm no fan of Huckabee, and Guiliani isn't about to see my vote either. But the question is still worth asking, and pondering. What if there really is a special relationship between God and America? What if God's blessing is still there, waiting to be reaffirmed or withdrawn? If this is true, is it not also true that the next president's beliefs may well have something to do with the success of his (or her) policies? This is something you don't see discussed much in the conventional world of politics. Perhaps it's time you should.