Here we go:
For about two years Sarah Huckabee Sanders stood-up and lied for Donald Trump. Now she is running for governor of Arkansas in 2022. Her opponents in the GOP primary include Lieutenant Governor and former U.S. representative Tim Griffin and Attorney General and Mike Huckabee surrogate Leslie Rutledge. Both Griffin and Rutledge, like Sanders, appear to be evangelical Christians.
If this video announcement is any indication, victimhood, fear, and “law and order” will be the driving force of the Sanders campaign. Later today I am interviewing historian Aaron Griffith, author of God’s Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America. Griffith does a masterful job of showing how evangelicals played a major role, if not the major role, in promoting Nixonian and Trumpian ideas of “law and order.” If you want to understand the Sanders’s candidacy read Griffith’s book or listen to our interview when Episode 81 drops on Sunday.
Sanders’s video uses all the right words to stoke anxiety: “socialism, ” “the radical Left,” “cancel culture,” “political media,” “Green New Deal,” “CNN ” The New York Times, and “tyranny.” (See how many times she says “radical” in this video). Sanders says, “your governor is your last line of defense” against these evils. This is Trump language all over again. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will protect you and preserve your religious liberty and right to own guns. She obviously learned her lessons well while serving the Trump administration.
She even marshals, at least rhetorically, Johnny Cash, the Little Rock Nine and Al Green for her cause.
I am reminded of a post I did in July 2017 when Sanders replaced Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary. I quoted a Washington Post column by Jennifer Rubin. Here it is again:
There is a moral argument, I suppose, for men and women who chose to go into this administration to serve in Cabinet-level or sub-Cabinet positions out of a sense of obligation to the country. (The better argument is that working in this administration inevitably leads to enabling wrongdoing and horrible policy decisions, but I understand the rationale of those who disagree with me.) However, there is no moral argument for going directly into the president’s senior/political staff, which in this administration means defending indefensible conduct, denying reality and encouraging others to lie in defense of the administration. You cannot serve in a dishonorable White House honorably.
Spicer willingly embraced the effort to intimidate and silence the press. He accepted his role in trying to demolish objective reality. He relished the mission to discredit every independent source of information that might contradict the president. In doing so he, more than any predecessor, did harm to the First Amendment and to the White House. He lowered the standard set by administrations of both parties — spin, advocate and sidestep but never lie.
For young, ambitious men and women in Washington and elsewhere, Spicer is an object lesson. Ambition and yearning to be in the “know,” in the center of power (what C.S. Lewis called the “inner ring“), can lead one to cast aside principle, values and simple decency. Lewis described the impulse to be an insider:
And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel. … Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.
Read Rubin’s entire column here.