Former governor Huckabee to make case for infrastructure as skeleton of society


Kaitlyn Finchler
Staff writer

Infrastructure has a plethora of meanings, playing a role in all parts of everyday life. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will discuss statewide infrastructure in his lecture at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

“Physical infrastructure is simply the skeleton of any society,” Huckabee said. “If we don’t have roads and bridges, water systems and sewer systems, electricity and gas lines, we don’t have a skeletal system. A body without a skeletal system collapses.”

He continues the Week Five conversation in the Chautauqua Lecture Series theme, “Infrastructure: Building and Maintaining the Physical, Social and Civic Underpinnings of Society.”

Huckabee said his talk will remain nonpartisan and nonpolitical, as he wants it to be “both informative and entertaining.” In addition to his previous governmental duties, Huckabee has written 19 books and hosts his own political commentary show, “Huckabee.” A Fox News contributor, he  ran twice for president, placing second in the 2008 Republican primary.

Whether it’s on the playground or at a corporate board meeting, he said there has to be a set of agreed-upon principles to constitute a social contract.

“We abide by that in order to have some resemblance of order,” Huckabee said. “Otherwise, we really are living out what is nothing more than the law of the jungle.”

The ultimate understanding of the human experience is the strong will dominate over the weak. Huckabee said this is “somewhat a violation of most of the animal kingdom.”

Physical and social infrastructure can’t be separate, both thrive off of each other, he said. 

“(When) people begin to make their own rules and abide only by their own personal interests, it results in absolute chaos and destruction,” Huckabee said. “Don’t think you can have one without the other. Both become necessary in every aspect of life.”

Huckabee said a “sense of order and a sense of expectation” is incumbent upon a society in order to survive. In his term as Arkansas governor, Huckabee led a “massive” highway reconstruction program. 

“That was an important part of making sure that we can carry on commerce,” he said. “If trucks can’t move, goods don’t get from point A to point B. … You have significant economic consequences from that.”

His campaign also worked on natural resources. He and his wife, Janet Huckabee, campaigned to set aside one-eighth of the center sales tax “strictly for conservation.” 

The purpose of the natural resources campaign was to ensure a balance between “enjoying the environment” and infrastructure. 

“I truly believe that a balanced life is proper relationships to God, to self, to others and to the world around us,” Huckabee said. 

While he wanted to create campaigns for a better society, some things weren’t in Huckabee’s control, such as design and the federal budget.

“For our highway program, we leveraged those funds to create a bond program, took it to the people for a vote (and) had 82% of the people in the state vote for that program,” he said. 

Arkansas residents wanted better highways, Huckabee said, so they were willing to put a tax on themselves to cover the bonds. 

Most people, when presented with “reality,” are told “if you want better (and safer) highways, we have to pay more,” Huckabee said. Depending on “if people aren’t stupid, they said yes.”

American people are “very civic, fair and good,” he said. He wants Chautauquans to be reminded there is “much hope” left in the world.

“I don’t want them to walk out, heads down, saying, ‘Oh, this may be our last gasp of breath,’ ” Huckabee said. “I want to leave them optimistic and having joy, (to) be reminded that not everything is what they see on the cable news channel about how horrible things are.”


The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.