Monday, February 11, 2008

Mathematics and Miracles

“Do not worry about your problems with mathematics; I assure you mine are far greater”
- Albert Einstein

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
- C.S. Lewis

Mike Huckabee made the rounds this morning, flitting from FOX to CNN to MSNBC. When asked why he isn’t dropping out of the race he responded, in classic Huckabee style, “As long as my guys are waving their pompons, we'll stay on the field.”

Give ‘em hell, Mike!

The Republican powerful are saying that it’s over. In fact, they’re saying it over and over and over. It’s like watching a bunch of politicians singing the “Anvil Chorus.”

Mike Huckabee is well aware of the mathematics involved. So are his supporters. We all get it, but we’re not giving up. There’s no reason, nor is there any incentive to.

While winning eighty-five to ninety percent of the remaining delegates is a daunting task, winning less than fifty percent of the remaining delegates and then participating in a brokered convention is far from impossible. John McCain must win fifty percent, plus one, of the total delegates in order to secure the nomination. That hasn’t happened yet, and until it does I’m not going to relinquish my pompom. I like Mike!

Many Huckabee detractors have now begun to resort to fear tactics. They seem to delight in taking us back to 1976 when Ronald Reagan decided to take on a sitting president. When all the smoke cleared from that convention, Gerald Ford won a narrow victory, Ronald Reagan left with the support of the Party’s conservative/grass-roots wing, the Republican Party left divided/wounded, and Jimmy Carter won the presidency. Many of the powerful in the G.O.P never forgave Reagan, even though he was to four years later propel his Party into power and return the country to its natural, historic conservatism.

Governor Huckabee has also been accused of splitting Republican conservatives, thus enhancing the chances for a Democratic victory in the general election. Well, I don’t believe it, nor does history seem to validate that point of view.

I spent some time this morning re-reading chapter seven, titled “The Revolution of 1860,” of Jim McPherson’s The Battle Cry of Freedom. The chapter is all about the political upheaval taking place in America in 1860. It seems that one man, Abraham Lincoln, much like Mike Huckabee today, wasn’t nearly as interested in electoral mathematics back then as he was in miracles. The Illinois rail-splitter, and friend of the common man, knew he faced a daunting task. He well understood that William Seward had come to Chicago as the presumptive nominee of the Party. But Lincoln, who once said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing,” pressed the issue of the nomination to the convention floor. History has recorded the outcome of that convention. Lincoln won, the Union was preserved, and slavery was abolished. Many scholars now believe that Lincoln, in addition to being our greatest political poet, was our greatest President. Thank God that we don’t have to concern ourselves today with a different history, one that might have been written had Lincoln given in to the mathematics he faced.

Some quotes from McPherson follow for your edification and enlightenment. I believe they demonstrate that, while some make assumptions, a few chart their courses to the stars, swim against the collective tide of the naysayers, and then go on to make history:

“Coming into the convention with a large lead based on strength in upper-North states, Seward hoped for a first-ballot nomination. But Republicans were sure to win those states no matter whom they nominated.”

“This left Lincoln. By the time the convention’s opening gavel came down on May 16, Lincoln had emerged from a position as the darkest of horses to that of Seward’s main rival.”

“Yet so obscure was Lincoln in certain circles before his nomination that some pundits had not included his name on their lists of seven or a dozen or even twenty-one potential candidates. Several newspapers spelled his first name Abram.”

“The first ballot revealed Seward’s weakness and Lincoln’s surprising strength. With 233 votes needed to nominate, Seward fell sixty short at 173 ½ while Lincoln polled 102.”

“From then on, Lincoln the rail-splitter became the symbol of the frontier, farm, opportunity, hard work, rags to riches, and other components of the American dream embodied in the Republican self-image.”

“None of the forty thousand people in and around the wigwam ever forgot that moment. All except the diehard Seward delegates were convinced they had selected the strongest candidate.”

We now have the hindsight of history, so we know that Abraham Lincoln was the right candidate for the right time. Some day, when this generation is pushing up the daisies, the history of the 2008 campaign will be written. It may be about John McCain, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton. And, improbable as it may seem now, it may be about a preacher from a small Arkansas town who was too stubborn to give in to the cackling voices around him calling for his surrender.

So, the campaign goes on. Mike Huckabee is still standing, reaching out to the grass-roots, continuing to make his stirring stump speeches. The shuffle of pompoms can still be heard across the land. It’s not over yet. As Mike has said so many times, the people, the voters, and not the pundits, will decide!

1 comment:

Cyndy Salzmann said...

Excellent article! Thanks so much!!