Monday, January 14, 2008

Huck's Army - Youth Will Be Served

“People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old.”
- Douglas MacArthur

I’ve had some friends ask me whether or not Mike Huckabee can win the Republican Party’s nomination or win the general election against what appears to be the Democratic juggernaut. They cite all the things that appear to be negatives to them. He’s too Populist. He’s too Evangelical. He’s not Evangelical enough. He’s not like Ronald Reagan. He’s a traitor to the conservative cause. He’s too folksy; he makes “crass jokes about Metamucil that strip this campaign of its dignity. He doesn’t always hold the Party line. He’s a “librull.”

I’m sure that as this campaign progresses the lists of labels and epithets will grow.

While they don’t say so, they probably think I’m a misguided fool, an idle dreamer, for supporting Mike rather than Fred Thompson or some other rib-rocked conservative. In their minds, the same labels they apply to Mike Huckabee must also apply to dreamy-eyed supporters like me.

Let me mount a defense for idle dreaming.

One of the striking things about the Mike Huckabee campaign is the way that young Evangelicals have become one of his primary support bases. In a recent New York Times op-ed, David Kirkpatrick noted:

“His (Huckabee’s) singular style — Christian traditionalism and the common-man populism of William Jennings Bryan, leavened by an affinity for bass guitar and late-night comedy shows — has energized many young and working-class evangelicals. Their support helped his shoestring campaign come from nowhere to win the Iowa Republican caucus and join the front-runners in Michigan, South Carolina and national polls.”

“And Mr. Huckabee has done it without the backing of, and even over the opposition of, the movement’s most visible leaders, many of whom have either criticized him or endorsed other candidates.”

Well, Hallelujah! Let youth be served.

By the time our next president is sworn into office something seismic will have happened in America. We may have our first woman president or we may have our first African-American president. If/when it happens I also hope something is written about the dramatic shift that’s taking place in the Evangelical movement. The old assumptions about values voters no longer apply, at least for the young. They’re no longer marching to the orders of Pat Robertson or James Dobson, and they’re tuning out Rush Limbaugh. Does this mean that the ideals of the values voters are dead? Hardly. What I believe it represents is a movement coming back to its roots. Young people, as is their wont, are listening with their hearts.

While Republican strategists and king makers criticize the movement, those energized by it or engaged in it see it as something healthy and fresh, a movement that’s come “for such a time as this.” The old guard, too long drunk with political power, is being overwhelmed by something they never anticipated in the heady days of Moral Majority. The new wine and the new politics are bursting the old wineskins and partisan calculations.

I’ve tried for days to let the old guard see what I see. I’ll try once more. The young Evangelical isn’t interested in the politics of division. The young Evangelical is interested in the politics of hope and up. The young Evangelical isn’t interested in the notion of unfettered wealth. The young Evangelical is interested in stewardship and service. The young Evangelical isn’t interested in creating enemies. The young Evangelical is interested in building alliances. The young Evangelical is every bit as patriotic as his elders. He’s committed finding the narrow way where his politics and faith make sense, where they’re in balance. He’s weighing everything not only with his head, but also with his heart.

Giving way to history is difficult. When the new comes, the old often doesn’t want to give way, but give way it must. Dissatisfaction with the old ways, fueled by a youthful faith, has fired the imaginations of a new generation that wants to build a new future. The result is a movement that’s coming alive, like Ezekiel’s dry bones. The passion of youth is being re-kindled. Bone is being knit to bone; flesh and sinew are forming. And breath, a fresh voice, is being heard across the land.

I grew up in the days of Dylan. Even now, at sixty-five, I find myself occasionally humming the old anthem:

“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand
For the times they are a changin’.”

I feel the freeze breeze of change against my wrinkled face and I feel once more young and alive. It feels good. There’s something to be said for being young, for being an idle dreamer; there’s something marvelous in hoping against hope. The actuaries say that I have about fifteen years left. I hope that at that time, whenever it is, it will be said of me that he lived, and died, young.


Radiant Times said...

We see that happening here in New Mexico, too!

T. Greer said...

Wow. I must say that I am impressed with this blog. You really are an intelligent person.

Which leaves me puzzled as to why you like Mr. Huckabee.

As a Minnesotan living quite close to the Iowa border, I cannot help but get a few of the political breezes coming from the state below me. With those breezes I have seen nothing in Huckabee that impresses me. He uses his opponent's religion against them, his foreign policy gaffes are horrendous, and he is unable to answer a question without telling a red-herring of a joke.

I am also a teenager. While not quite an evangelical, I know quite a lot of them. Furthermore, I can say that the young absolutely hate Huckabee. They seemed to have this (irrational, I admit) notion that a Huckabee election would be the next Spanish Inquisition. Or perhaps an Arkansas Inquisition would more accurately reflect such views. Either way, I don’t see the youth supporting Huckabee any time soon.

TC said...

I'm going to have to thorougly disagree with t. greer's assessment of this article.

I'm a Huckabee supporter and I think I'm still considered 'young' (age 29). At the very least, I still feel 'young'.

Not to brag, but I'd say with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Engineering, I would say that it's safe to say that I'm not unintelligent. To infer that just because you consider yourself intelligent and you don't like Mike Huckabee, does not mean that people who do support him are unintelligent.

Each candidate in this race has had their fair share of gaffes and comments that they wish they had never said. For crying out loud, if you've ever heard Hillary Clinton's pretend southern accent you'd have to conclude that even well versed, highly polished politicians have lapses in judgment. I'm not sure who you are supporting for President, but let me assure you that I could come up with a list of undesirable comments or actions that each candidate has committed.

This blog has keyed in on something extremely important. Youth are the key to any new movement. As was stated in the article, and quoted from the Bible, 'new wine requires new wineskins'. True change will not be occur without the significant contribution of young people.