NCPA's Dr. John Goodman introduced Mike Huckabee stating "What you see is what you get-an authentic person who really understands policy issues." I saw that today in both Huckabee's speech and the question and answer session that followed. Mike Huckabee did not give a fire and brimstone speech. Instead he touched on several key issues affecting America using tempered language that he likes to call vertical politics. Huckabee feels that Americans are disappointed with today's politicians and how everything has become right or left (horizontal politics), rather than up or down. Huckabee noted that Americans are looking for someone who can lift America up, solve the problems without tearing each other down, and bring people together to implement solutions to get America back on track.
Mike Huckabee started the speech with his usual self deprecating humor and commonsense approach to governing. He excoriated the insular community in Washington DC that doesn't listen to the rest of America and forgets the impact that it has on businesses. Huckabee then introduced vertical politics stating that it is a tactical solution that we are not using very often. "Elections are decided not by those who embrace extreme positions but by those who view things from a vertical perspective. This view looks at whether we are getting better or we are getting worse. Are things improving or are they declining? Is my kid who just graduated from college going to be able to find a job to help pay off their college loans? The solutions that we have to develop in this country need to be pointing people toward how we are improving the future for the next generation rather than how we are going to beat those guys on the other side." My guess is that if and when Mike Huckabee gets into the race, his platform will be about bringing America together for the benefit of the next generation.
After his speech, the floor was opened up to questioning. One of the things I like best about Mike Huckabee, is that he always answers the questions he is asked. Below are the topics and his paraphrased words.
With Obama, "we don't hear a president, we hear a candidate." Huckabee praised former presidents Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 for their ability to give a policy speech that focused on policy and not the politics of campaigning. Huckabee stated that "politicians are driven to ideological purity by primary campaigns. But actual governing is like a football game-where you gain a few yards at a time with the goal being attained incrementally."
The Punishing Tax System
"The problem with our current tax system is that we punish those things we want to reward and we reward those things we should want to punish. We need to reward behaviors we want to encourage and punish things we want to discourage. We need to throttle up, not punish people for having done so. America won't be a great country if we teach people to not work hard." Huckabee gave the example of bailing out reckless companies that are failing while over taxing prudent companies that are thriving.
"We better bring up the issue because obesity is killing us. The role of government is not to raise our kids, but to raise awareness and change the culture." Examples that Huckabee gave where culture changed behavior included littering, smoking, wearing seat belts and drunk driving. He emphasized that in each case when the government codified the changes into law they only validated the new cultural norm.
Role of the Federal Government
"Stimulate good ideas that work for individuals. Each individual is his/her best government. Best government is self government. Comes down to individuals with a moral compass and families who actually raise their own kids and don't expect Uncle Sugar to do it for them. Individual health savings accounts-benefit of making good decisions. Not turning health care over to someone who does not know me and frankly who has no vested interested in my making a good decision. Government can help foster, puts more power into the hands of the individual."
"Moot process until we secure the border. All the discussion of how we are going to reform immigration starts with that first and foremost thing. I don't think there is a real appetite in America for all the intricate policy discussion of how you deal with it until you deal with the glaring issue of do you have control of your own borders. That has to be first and foremost."
"If we keep raising the debt ceiling without ever coming to grips with what its doing long term-devaluing the dollar and destroying our economy- then we are doing the next generation a great disservice. Raise only if there is substantial commitment, execution of lowering the expenditures."
"We have to recognize, that when dealing with terrorists, we can't negotiate, can't worry about offending them. We as Americans have to do whatever it takes, like sending in Navy Seals and taking them out. I think the Israeli's have it right. You don't negotiate with terrorists. You get rid of the terrorist before they get rid of you. That's the only way to deal with it."
As Dr. Goodman said, what you see is what you get. As president we would have in Mike Huckabee a leader who answered the questions that are asked, who served the people of America and left partisan politics up to the pundits, who brought together the best and the brightest from both sides of the aisle to find solutions that work. We would have a president who understands that we have a responsibility to the next generation to leave America better than we found it.