The year is 1884. James G. Blaine, Republican nominee for President of the United States, is the favorite in what is expected to be the seventh straight GOP presidential win (going back to Lincoln’s first win in 1860). On October 29, he attends a campaign event in New York City. He is introduced by Reverend Samuel D. Burchard, who ends his address with these now infamous words:
We are Republicans, and don’t propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.
For the historically uninitiated, “Romanism” was the 19th Century insult for Catholicism. Blaine ignored the Reverend Burchard’s speech, and delivered his own with no comment on Burchard’s slur. The Democratic press seized the phrase (and Blaine’s lack of disavowal) and spread it to every corner of the country. Thousands of Catholic New Yorkers abandoned Blaine for the Democratic candidate: Grover Cleveland. Cleveland went down in history as the only Democrat to win the White House between 1860 and 1910.
Fast forard to 2008. Mike Huckabee, the man who all but screams “bigot!” to anyone who questions his record as Governor of Arkansas, is just about to share the pulpit (literally) with Reverend John Hagee, a preacher who has a long history of virulent anti-Catholic statements (Catholic League).
I get the feeling Huckabee is about to learn a very painful lesson in religious politics. Coming from the state with the third lowest percentage of Catholics (Ask a Catholic), he likely doesn’t see followers of the ancient faith as a major constituency. He will soon learn just how wrong he is.
Of course, Huck could take the time to disassociate himself from Hagee’s anti-Catholic rants; that would be enough for me. Some Catholics (say, Shaun Kenney and Chris Beer over at Mason Conservative) may not be happy unless the appearance is cancelled. Either way, if Huckabee does what I expect him to do on this subject (namely, nothing) he will reap the whirlwind.
For years, evangelicals have assumed they were all alone in fighting the lonely fight for social conservatism. Many (but not all) have been unwilling or unable to notice the millions of Catholics who stood beside them. Among other things, this has led evangelicals to assume they are stronger than they really are. However, Huckabee may just give millions of bonafide social conservatives Reason Number 1 to never vote for him – ever.
Tomorrow could be the beginning of the end for Mike Hucakbee.
Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal