But the social-conservative coalition is also put at risk by Huckabee’s campaign tactics. Most social conservatives are religious conservatives — evangelical Christians, practicing Catholics, Mormons, and Orthodox Jews. They are united in their desire to have people of faith in public office and their strong belief in the sanctity of innocent human life and traditional family values. But in taking their faiths seriously, they also have profound theological differences. These theological differences have been set aside in the public square as religious conservatives have joined together to support candidates who reflect their values.
By emphasizing his qualification for office as a “Christian leader,” the Huckabee campaign, however, has implicitly, and some of his supporters have explicitly, promoted a religious test for office. This threatens to tear this religious coalition apart. And if evangelical Christians legitimize a religious test for public office, they will pay the heaviest price. The liberal elites have long sought to drive people of faith from the public square. They view Mormons as a curiosity, like Christians on steroids, but they loath and fear evangelicals. If a religious test is legitimate for public office, then the Democrats will drive evangelicals out of our democracy.
So will the Huckabee campaign be the stake in the heart of the Reagan coalition? It is apparent that the Democrat National Committee hopes so, as Huckabee has largely escaped their criticism. Mitt Romney, however, has been the focal point of their attacks. That is because he is a full-spectrum conservative who will reunite the Reagan coalition. This is the Republican voter’s choice, are we to unite together, or will some of us simply “go by the wayside?”