Former Arkansas governor and two-time Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee was once a major American moral scold. An ordained pastor, he has more and more focused on a career as a television and radio host, honing his persona into something like, "What if Rush Limbaugh mentioned Jesus a lot?" He’s forever spiteful, judgmental, paranoid, arch-right, and a groomer of children via a series of books that propagate absolutely unhinged bullshit.
Huckabee wasn't patient zero for this country’s modern Christian nationalism, but he's the poster child for what former President Donald Trump's base would like to see America become. Guns everywhere, theocratic laws to oppress anyone who isn't a very specific sort of "Christian," witch hunts for secret socialists, and a willingly ignorant underclass brought up to believe only what the state wants to teach them and not a damn thing else.
You know: fascism. And I regret to inform you that ol’ Huck is still telling his audience that The Time For Rebellion Is Nigh.
He opened a recent episode of his current TV show this way:
Do you know how political opponents to those in power are dealt with in third-world dictatorships, banana republics, and communist regimes? Well, it's simple. The people in power use their police agencies to arrest their opponents for made-up crimes in an attempt to discredit them, bankrupt them, imprison them, exile them, or all of the above.
And if you're not paying attention, you may not realize that Joe Biden is using exactly those tactics to make sure that Donald Trump is not his opponent in 2024. [...]
Here's the problem, if these tactics end up working to keep Trump from winning, or even running in 2024, it is going to be the last American election that will be decided by ballots rather than bullets.
This is why we never talk about this horrible, rotten man.
Though the Huckabees of the world have gone to great pains to erase it from their memories, a core campaign line that Trump and his toadies used during the 2016 election was that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be lock-her-upped. It was never clear what her crime was supposed to be, since "poor email-handling" was never going to result in prison time, and the other crimes various Democrats were supposed to have committed were based on delusionary hucksterism, aka "made-up crimes."
But audiences chanted for Trump's enemies to be imprisoned for made-up crimes. The Huckabee base cheered, laughed, and bought shirts with pictures of their enemies behind bars, and it was all great fun.
And then, wow, who would have guessed it? Trump, the lifelong grifter and incompetent uber-twit, ended up indicted on charges related to big-deal laws, like the damn Espionage Act, and suddenly, Huck thinks legitimately locking up important Republicans will end American democracy. Even if juries agree the charges are proven. Even if the evidence consists of "we all watched it happen" or "it was found in his damn bathroom, under the toilet chandelier."
Again, it's the stuff of the militia movements. Every fascist couches their predicted revolution in this same "look what you made us do" language. If Trump does not win his election because prosecutors had the audacity to indict him, then it will be evidence that President Joe F--king Biden, who to everybody's knowledge has been staying as far away as possible from every Trump investigation, must be defeated with "bullets."
And this is why the Republican base has turned fascist so quickly. It's because they've had two decades of people like Huckabee hitting all of fascism's notes—the paranoia, propaganda, and demonization of enemies and insistence that the time for violence is coming up Real Soon Now. Of course, the base believes it. Of course, the base believes their Dear Leaders should be able to do crimes and face no consequences.
It's because of people like this asshole, Mike Huckabee. A bunch of con artists, hiding behind Jesus and selling survival food and overpriced gold coins and dreams of violent revolution and, mostly, themselves.
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Why does it seem like Republicans have such a hard time recruiting Senate candidates who actually live in the states they want to run in? We're discussing this strange but persistent phenomenon on this week's edition of "The Downballot." The latest example is former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who's been spending his time in Florida since leaving the House in 2015, but he's not the only one. Republican Senate hopefuls in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Montana, and Wisconsin all have questionable ties to their home states—a problem that Democrats have gleefully exploited in recent years. (Remember Dr. Oz? Of course you do.)