Shelves of law books means absence of moral behavior
Have you ever been to a law library? There are shelves of books with details of the "code." The fact there are so many laws is black-and-white evidence that our society is broken. The presence of law is usually the sign of the absence of moral behavior.
Every law we create is in itself a reminder that our moral code is being more narrowly defined to catalog what is right and wrong. The number of laws we have is in direct proportion to the failure of our citizens to abide by the moral code of
self-government that respects others as much as self. Society simply can't regulate every single behavior, flaw, and pathology. But that doesn't mean that we won't try. And every law we pass means more loopholes for people who want to follow the letter
of the law but not every law but not he spirit. And every law that we pass means less trust among citizens. And every law that we pass means more expenses for everyone. Government costs are high because our behavioral standards have become so low.
Red tape increases more than taxes--but costs just as much
Interestingly, the most startling growth of government has not been in spending, enormous as those dollar totals might be,. In fact, the federal government's share of gross domestic product has moved within a relatively narrow band, from about
17 percent to 23 percent of total output, since the beginning of the Cold War.
But it's red tape that's growing the most--like kudzu, as we say in the South.
Tax increases have been limited, because they are so visible; voters get mad and often punish incumbents when they see a bigger bite being taken out of their paychecks.
By contrast, regulation and
regulatory creep is harder to detect, because the costs tend to be diffused into everything--into the overall cost of living, into the overall cost of doing business. And yet the costs are still real--somebody must pay the piper.
Quite simply, the best government, the simplest, the least expensive, the most local and accountable, the least intrusive, the most efficient, the least threatening, is self-government.
This ideal is simple--each individual would govern himself or
herself by a moral code of respect and honor essentially based on the premise of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This isn't just a Christian principle, but a universal one. It is sheer folly to separate personal
liberty from personal responsibility. Period.
As sophisticated and enlightened as it may sound to say, "Government shouldn't tell people what they can do," government is forced into that position when people fail to govern themselves. Does anyone
think "government" is wrong to "intrude" on the liberties of the burglar by arresting him? In fact, we insist on it. But had the burglar governed himself, the entire expensive process of adjudicating him would have been unnecessary.
Roach Motel: DC supposedly place to serve, not to be served
On the campaign trail, I used to joke that Washington, D.C., was like the Roach Motel--the roaches went in but they never left! What I should have added was, "The roaches stay in the Roach Motel, because they like it!" Imagine: You look into your Roach
Motel, and those little buggers are having a party, so you want your money back. But instead, those shin-digging six-leggers want more of your money.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. The federal government was supposed to be a place to serve, not
to be served. In the Founders' view, public servants would not get paid much and would not stay long. They would have to go home, to live under the taxes and rules that they created while in Washington. Not, THAT was a check and balance!
It's not that
they CAN'T go home again; it's that they DON'T WANT to go home again. Oh, sure, every now and then, they scuttle out to do a "grip and grin," but then they scurry back to DC where they are as happy as six-leggers in the DC Roach Motel.
Elections by E-Bay? Media focuses on money over ideas
All through the primaries, the media obsessively scrutinized the quarterly Federal Election Commission filings. These numbers were considered every bit as determinative as the poll numbers; your dollars were your destiny, to the point where I began
saying that if all that mattered was how much money you could raise, why not just auction the nomination off on eBay?
Candidates who weren't raising huge sums of money or didn't have personal fortunes--candidates like me--were consistently disparaged
as incapable of surviving till the next quarter, let alone winning, thus discouraging folks from making contributions to them. The chattering class was obsessed with the PROCESS of politics and seemed to be oblivious to its PRODUCT--that is, ideas to
actually improve our nation. It was a vicious cycle I vowed not to get trapped in. What my supporters lacked in funds, they more than made up for in time and talent. Giuliani and Romney were signing paychecks, while I was signing thank you notes.
Raise donor limit to largest self-donation, even if $5M
Our system is in desperate need of real reform but I confess that there is no perfect solution. I just know that the current one has created a political environment in which a candidate with vast personal wealth has credibility because of his or
her bank balance--not because of a bank full of great ideas.
The idea of limiting how much money a person can give to his or her own campaign runs afoul of the First Amendment, but if a wealthy candidate can give himself unlimited contributions, why
should his opponent be strapped by a $2,300 limit? I have come to the conclusion that maybe the best way is to prohibit nothing and disclose everything. Or at least have a rule if a candidate gives his own campaign a contribution of $5 million, then
other candidates should be allowed to take contributions up to $5 million as well. If we are not careful, we will transform a democracy into a plutocracy where the only people who can run for office are the ones with the ability to ante up millions.
Fundamental difference with McCain on campaign finance
Q: What is the biggest issue that separates you from John McCain?
A: I think the key issues are: that I support the human life amendment; that I donít support human embryonic stem cell research; that I didnít agree with the
McCain-Feingold campaign finance act; and immigration. We have differences of opinion on how we ought to handle that. Those are the fundamental differences. And I think there are other, maybe, nuances. But you know, one of the things that
I find interesting, the two most civil campaigns of the Republican primary are the ones still on their feet. And I do think that that says something about both the senatorís campaign and ours.
It looks like Republicans really are responding to a more message-driven and positive campaign. I think thatís good for our party. Iíd like to say I think itís good for America.
Q: Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed that California be allowed to implement much tougher emission requirements than apply to the rest of the country. Do you side with the governor or with the Bush administration?
A: Gov. Schwarzenegger ought to be able
to carry out the plan. If heís right, every other state is going to copy him. If heís wrong, every other state is going to recruit the jobs that he lost in California to their own states. The genius of our system has always been that, if you have states
acting as laboratories of good government, rather than mess it up for all 50 states, you get the chance to find out, does it work? If it does, we all copy it, and then we make a little change, and we claim it for our own. If it doesnít work, we do
everything we can to make sure that the jobs that maybe he loses we get in our own state. Itís the genius of our founding fathers when they had the idea of federalism. Jefferson was right, and Hamilton was wrong. That debate was settled.
Transparency on spending will prune back Congressí earmarks
I applaud the Presidentís efforts on behalf of an economic stimulus package--itís a valuable first step. And I hope that the Democratic leadership in Congress will cooperate with the President in a swift and responsible manner. And I applaud the
Presidentís determination to prune back Congressional earmarks--I have long believed that we need more transparency on spending. Moreover, I agree that we must hold the line on taxes, and we must make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address
, Jan 28, 2008
Focus on uniting the country
Q: Your key focus areas?
A: The first priority of the next president is to be a president of all the US. Weíve got to quit even fighting among ourselves as conservatives and as Republicans, and start putting the better interest of our nation.
If that doesnít happen, weíll get none of these things done. Weíve got to be the united people of the US, and a president has got to somehow remind us that we are a great, resilient nation that has to stick together to solve all of these problems.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate
, Dec 12, 2007
Allow DC residents to vote on getting Representatives
Q: Do you support giving the District of Columbia voting representation?
A: I believe that the people of DC should be able to vote for representation. Thatís appropriate for the simple reason of equality & justice. If we need to amend the Constitution
to make that possible, it should happen. I donít care what color they are, I donít care how they vote--they ought to be able to vote, and their color & their political affiliation ought to have nothing to do with the equality that we should give them.
Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University
, Sep 27, 2007
Require photo ID for voting, to avoid fraud
Q: Are you concerned that some eligible voters will be denied the right to vote simply because they donít have a driverís license?
A: I have to show photo ID to get on an airplane in my home town. I think itís not asking too much to make sure that
people who are voting are truly eligible voters. When you register to vote, letís take your picture, and put it on a card. That way it doesnít dilute the vote if a lot of people who arenít registered voters try to fraudulently vote.
Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University
, Sep 27, 2007
Ok if church identifies candidates who favor its principles
Q: My church is currently under IRS investigation for ďpolitical involvementĒ due to my identifying politicians who support the destruction of innocent unborn children. Would you remove the gag rule from pastors like me & repeal the restrictions against
churches from expressing our biblical convictions for or against a candidate?
COX: Yes. Letís get rid of the entire IRS while weíre at it.
Attacking othersí integrity reflects peopleís own immorality
I agree with the writer who said that ďcharacter is the person you are when no one is looking.Ē Itís the person you are when the cameras are off, the witnesses gone, and thereís no one to keep score.
I think we are all performers to some extent.
But the real person is the one who is nearly the same behind closed doors as the public eye. We might say, ďIíd never steal with someone watching me.Ē But would we steal if no one was watching?
It seems that the desire to see public officials fail the
integrity test is at an all-time high. The reason is that by showing the flaws in other people, the public affirms that its own inadequacies are not so abnormal. As the character of America begins to plummet, we want to justify our own lack of morality
by somehow showing that everyone is just as bad.
Our generation has learned to hold to the standard of each other instead of the standard of God. That is the travesty: God is no longer the standard; we are.
Govern by ďRegnat Populus,Ē ARís motto ďThe People RuleĒ
You are entitled to ask, ďWhat kind of governor will you be?Ē I plan to be guided by certain principles that will form the basis of policies enabling every Arkansas citizen to claim our state truly as the ďLand of Opportunity.Ē
Those of us elected
or employed to serve the citizen need to remember who the boss is
Government should not penalize productivity and subsidize irresponsibility
Let us establish policies for the family
I believe that a good leader never asks of others what one is
unwilling to do himself
Government should welcome the participation of citizens from the private sector
I believe the best government is the most local government
In education, we cannot ignore the need for building character
should facilitate rather than complicate life for those who create jobs by running a business.
Our tax policies should be fair to those who work hard for paychecks.
We must always keep in mind our state motto: Regnat Populus (ďThe People RuleĒ).
Q: What mistakes do you see in the Bush administration?
A: I want to make sure that we went to a place where the states had more power and not centralized in the federal government. Thatís been a mistake of this administration,
I think an honest and sincere one, but a huge mistake. And instead, we need to honor the Tenth Amendment, we need to remember that we are a nation of strong states and weak federal government, not strong federal centralized government and weak states.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC
, May 3, 2007
Supports term limits for state legislators
Q Do you support the current two-term eight-year limit for Arkansas governors?
Q: Do you support two-term eight-year limit for Arkansas state senators?
Q: Do you support the three-term six-year limit for Arkansas house representatives?
Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test
, Nov 1, 2002
Limit campaign contributions, but no public funding
Q: Do you support limiting individual contributions to state candidates?
Q: For PAC contributions?
Q: For Corporate contributions?
Q: For Political Parties?
Q: Do you support requiring full and timely
disclosure of campaign finance information?
Q: Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns?
Q: Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns?
Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test
, Nov 1, 2002
Not more government, but more efficient government
I donít think we need a lot more government. We need the government we have to work more efficiently. We need it to work in ways that help our citizens rather than helping us to just grow more government. And, if the economy is slowing, then thatís all
the more reason not to launch forth with a whole lot of new government programs but rather to scale back everywhere we can except for determining those things which we cannot scale back and then carrying out our responsibilities.
Source: 2001 State of the State address to the Arkansas legislature
, Jan 9, 2001
Disclose political gifts, but donít prohibit them
Public officials are confronted with rules on the giving and receiving of gifts. I think itís a good idea to disclose to the public the types and scope of gifts. Voters should be able to evaluate the relationships
that those in public office have and decide whether the givers are exerting too much influence.
But the trend in many states is to regulate and even prohibit normal giving and receiving among friends and relatives.
These rules often are made by those who donít understand that true giving is not about seeking to influence someone. In the true spirit of giving, the person who received the gift is not so much obligated to return the favor as he
is to pass on a similar blessing to another. Thus, this transaction becomes an ever-expanding circle of compassion and generosity.
Negative campaigning works with some voters but not with God
Living life for the ultimate--living beyond our lifetime--requires that we think not in terms of getting rid of those who oppose us. Instead, we should overcome them with superior ideas and values.
My family has had to endure attacks I never would have imagined before running for office. Frivolous lawsuits instigated by political opponents who are unable to find real issues can create distractions.
Some members of the media are willing to take baseless allegations and not only report them but repeat them over and over.
Although attacking others will sometimes work with voters, it will not work as we stand before Godís judgment seat. He will judge based on what he knows, not on what our critics have said about us.
Decide based on next generation, not next election
No matter how idealistic a person is when entering the political arena, I can attest thereís always a temptation to make decisions that will affect the next election rather than chart the best course for the next generation. Itís easy to justify such an
attitude by telling yourself that if you donít get reelected, you wonít be able to have an impact. Our society increasingly demands measurable results in a short time.
The longer I serve as governor, the more I remind myself that my most important
decisions are not those that will affect the next election. They are those that will affect the next generation. If public officials had fought for generational programs 50 years ago, my state might not be one of the poorest in the country.
As we work
raise our children, and make daily decisions, we need to ask if they are for the immediate or for the ultimate good. Imagine the difference if we made decisions based on how they impacted the next generation rather than influenced the next election.
Bill Clinton once said, "Character isn't the issue." Yet our government, welfare programs, schools, & everything else in our lives are shaped & directed according to our character. Everything hinges on the men & women we choose to establish public policy
And their character depends on you. There IS something you can do: you can live a God-centered life of high moral character, and you can support candidates who share your Christian standards.
Character is the issue, and your character makes a
difference every day--in the work you do, the people you vote for, the people you look to for leadership.
Seven years ago I was the pastor of a wonderful church in Texarkana. My views didn't make me any better than anyone else before
God, but they struck a chord with people who were weary of living under a government that no longer respected what they thought was important. Today as governor of Arkansas, I recognize the same moral authority--God's authority--that I did as a pastor.
Pastors & politicians both need communication & volunteers
I do not believe there is a huge chasm between careers in church & politics. In fact, I would say there is no better preparation for public office than the pastoral ministry. Pastors and politicians must master the same four skills to succeed:
The ability to communicate a message effectively. If you can't communicate, it doesn't matter how worthy your ideas are. They'll die on the vine.
The ability to motivate volunteers. If you can't motivate volunteers, you can't lead a
church and you can't run a campaign.
A clear understanding of the media. You must know how the media works, how to use it effectively, how to harness its influence for your benefit.
The ability to raise money.
Churches and political campaigns are both built with voluntary contributions. If you can't raise money, you can't lead a church any more than you can win public office.
Term limits counter election skewed laws toward incumbents
I strongly advocate a constitutional amendment that would limit the terms of members of Congress. Election laws are skewed in favor of the incumbents. The power of incumbency is reflected in the franking privilege, the use of staff paid for by the
taxpayers to do research, the advantage of media attention that is given to incumbents over challengers, and the ability of incumbents to come home at strategic times to announce various projects in order to continue the ďauraĒ of the office.
I would personally favor that no one be elected to the US Senate for more than two six-year terms, and that no one be elected to the Congress for more than three four-year terms.
As one who is attempting to challenge a long-term incumbent, it has
become increasingly apparent that the current process is not adequate to remove members of Congress. Since we already limit the President to eight years, it seems ridiculous to give Congressmen and Senators long-term careers at taxpayer expense.
Change House terms to 4 years, to avoid constant campaigning
Changing the House of Representativesí term to four years from the current two-year term would give a Congressman more time on the job and less time having to campaign for reelection. It would also be possible to make the four-year terms of
Congressmen fall in the middle of the presidential election cycle, which might be helpful in balancing the attention given to the various races taking place at any given time.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate
, Nov 1, 1992
Wonít vote for pay raise for myself as member of Congress
I would not vote for a pay raise for myself as a member of Congress as our incumbent has done on at least four occasions. There needs to be radical reform in the scandalous manner in which pay and perks are handled.
With the enactment of a term-limitation act, the class of Congress that is ending its term should work with an independent commission to evaluate whether or not any adjustment in salaries should be considered for the next Congress.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate
, Nov 1, 1992
Reforms must respect state's rights to select electors.
Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association position paper:
In the wake of the United States presidential election in Florida, the Congress and the administration has expressed interest in federal standards for elections. Recognizing that Articles I and II of the United States Constitution grants states, not Congress, the authority to determine the manner of selecting presidential electors and conducting elections generally, most legislative proposals do not mandate federal standards. Rather, current proposals direct federal agencies or commissions to study and make recommendations concerning the election system. Nonetheless, the possibility of legislation in the 107th Congress requiring states to implement federal election standards remains. If enacted without adequate funding by the federal government, such legislation could also result in an unfunded mandate to the states.
Articles I and II of the United States Constitution grant states the authority to determine the manner of selecting presidential electors and provide that states are responsible for establishing election procedures generally. However, in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, the nationís Governors recognize the need for election reform. NGA will continue to monitor federal legislation addressing this issue, but has not taken a position in support of or opposition to election reform efforts.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA11 on Aug 1, 2001