By most political calculations, Mike Huckabee has no chance of winning the Republican nomination or the presidency. But he might just save the world this Super Tuesday.
The prevailing thought among political pundits is that the former Baptist minister and Arkansas governor will make a sizable showing in the South, and may win a state or two there. But even riding the political strength of Evangelical Christians won't be enough to build on his Iowa win and capture the nomination, given the greater electoral value in states he's sure to lose to McCain or Romney.
But the tight race between McCain and Romney is exactly where Huckabee will have his impact. Most pundits agree that most Huckabee voters would choose Romney over McCain, were Huckabee not in the race. Because most Republican primaries are winner-take-all affairs, even slim margins of victory by McCain even if due to a Romney vote count eroded by Huckabee's presence could well win him enough electoral votes to win his party's nomination.
McCain is the only Republican candidate to stake out a strong position on global warming action. He was an original author of the Senate's first (failed) bill to set up a cap-and-trade carbon regulation, in 2003. And he is the lone Republican to talk openly about the scientific consensus around man-made global warming, its consequences, and the need to take bold action to confront it.
Romney has, particularly of late, attacked McCain's position on global warming and carbon caps as potentially damaging to the economy. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney refused to join a bipartisan, state-level, Republican-led effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants the nation's first regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade initiative. He opposes California and other states' rights to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, and has never spoken convincingly about global warming as a serious problem that needs to be confronted.
The prescription McCain has endorsed (a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below today's level by 2050) pales in comparison to the prescription written by Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050). Obama and Clinton both have strong, aggressive plans that differ in the method, but not in the goal. The choice green Democrats face is primarily along the lines of which candidate they believe is better suited to enacting the policies they envision.
When it comes to action on global warming, a McCain win would move the debate in the general election to "how far" not "whether."
If McCain wins the Republican nod, Americans can be assured that the next president Republican or Democrat will do something about global warming. If Romney wins, all you can be sure of is a nasty fight over old ground (Is global warming real? Is it worth sacrifice to confront?) that's already been won by those who want to see the slow-moving catastrophe stopped.
Because the United States is the leading emitter of greenhouse gases, along with China, its action will cause ripples throughout the world. Doing nothing will also cause ripples in the form of floods, severe storms, drought, heat waves, famine and other environmental devastation.
Huckabee, who is the only Republican besides McCain to endorse a cap-and-trade regulation (albeit one with no specific targets for reducing pollution), talks about leaving the world better for future generations, just as Boy Scouts should leave a campsite in better shape than they found it. He talks about a Christian responsibility to protect God's creation. If Huckabee takes enough votes from Romney to ensure McCain's victory, he will have done something to ensure that happens.
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