Tag Archives: Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee’s Metaphors

            In the past few weeks I have analyzed the metaphors used in the campaign announcements from Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul. Each had a variety of political metaphors derived from several different conceptual metaphor categories. Today I would like to share a few examples from the metaphors used by Mike Huckabee in his recent campaign launch. Mr. Huckabee did not use metaphors to the extent of either Mrs. Clinton or Dr. Paul. However, he uses several interesting metaphors from the categories of physical forces, machines, personification and journeys. All examples are taken from the speech which can be seen here.  As always, the metaphors are highlighted in italics. Some quotations are repeated if they contain more than one category of metaphor.

Physical Forces

As with Ron Paul, Mr. Huckabee describes the current Obama government in less than flattering terms. He uses several different metaphors based on physical forces to describe the national economy including unbalanced trade deals and wage laws that undercut American workers. He also described his governorship in Arkansas as very lopsided since he was a Republican governor with many Democrats in the state legislature. He also argues against chopping off Medicare and Social Security payments to people who have paid into the system. He argues that everyone needs a fair shake in life, originally meaning an honest deal sealed with a handshake.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comunbalanced and undercut

Example: “And we don’t create good jobs for Americans by entering into unbalanced trade deals that forego Congressional scrutiny and looking the other way as the law is ignored so we can import low wage labor, undercut American workers, and drive wages lower than the Dead Sea.”


Example: “I governed in a state that was the most lopsided and partisan in the country-no Republican Governor had more Democrats and fewer Republicans.”

chop off

Example: “Some propose that to save safety nets like Medicare and Social Security, we need to chop off the payouts for the people who have faithfully had their paychecks and pockets picked by the politicians promising that their money would be waiting for them when they were old and sick.”

blog - personification - handshakea fair shake

Example: “…even in that environment we passed 94 tax cuts, rebuilt our road system, saw dramatic improvements in student test scores, and fought the corruption of the good ol’ boy system so working class people would be given a fair shake.”


Also like Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee compares the American government to a machine. He describes the political machine that existed in Arkansas when he was governor and the power, money and influence in Washington D.C. that run the country. He also argues that financial markets can be shut down as if they are machines, although we can tinker with the tax codes as if they are metal objects in need of repair.”

run the country

Example: “Like a lot of Americans, I grew up in a small town far removed from the power, the money, and the influence that runs the country.”

political machine

Example: “I challenged the deeply entrenched political machine that ran this state.”

blog - machines - hot buttonshut down markets

Example: “We face not only the threats from terrorism, but also the threat of new kinds of dangers, from a cyber war that could shut down major financial markets to threats of an electromagnetic pulse from an exploded device that could fry the electrical grid and take the country back to the Stone Age in a matter of minutes.”


Example: “And I don’t want to hear politicians talk about tinkering with the tax code and making little adjustments that still let powerful Washington interests pick the winners and losers.”


As we have seen in many past posts, governments are commonly described as people. Huckabee complains that the government picks the pockets of hard-working Americans, or simply grabs their money. He also claims that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is the result of creating a monster, while he compares the American education system a student to a student who has flunked and needs to be expelled.

pockets picked

Example: “Some propose that to save safety nets like Medicare and Social Security, we need to chop off the payouts for the people who have faithfully had their paychecks and pockets picked by the politicians promising that their money would be waiting for them when they were old and sick.”

blog - business - cashgrab money

Example: “You were forced to pay for Social Security and Medicare for 50 years. The government grabs money from our paychecks and says it will be waiting for us when we turn 65.”

created a monster

Example: “And instead of helping families find affordable health care, we created a monster that forces us to buy coverage we don’t want, don’t need, and can’t afford.”

flunked, expelled

Example: “Why even have a federal department of education? It has flunked and it needs to be expelled.   Education policy should be set by states, local school boards, and best of all, by the moms and dads of the children.”



Surprisingly, Mr. Huckabee uses several strange analogies describing certain aspects of American government and foreign enemies. He compares Middle Eastern jihadis to deadly snakes, the government to a roach motel, and he claims that he is a blue collar working man instead of being from blue blood royalty.

blog - forces - rattlesnakedeadly snakes

Example: “As President, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to CONTAIN jihadism; we will CONQUER it! We will deal with jihadis just as we would deal with deadly snakes.”


roach motel

Example: “Government in Washington is dysfunctional because it’s become the roach motel-people go in, but they never come out. As President I’ll fight for Term limits on all 3 branches of government.”

blue collar / blue blood

Example: “I don’t have a global foundation or a taxpayer funded paycheck to live off of. I don’t come from a family Dynasty, but a working family. I grew up blue collar and not blue blood.”


Finally, Mr. Huckabee uses some standard journey metaphors talking about his journey to the White House. Interestingly, his description of going to the White House is both literal and figurative, since Washington D.C. is literally a long way from his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, and figurative since he came a long way to run for president of the United States. Most remarkably, he also describes his journey as being from Hope to Higher Ground, the title of his 2007 book, in which he described working hard to improve one’s life. Metaphorically, Mr. Huckabee describes his own journey to the White House as one from Hope to Higher Ground.

blog - SOTU 15 - curve of the roadlong way to the White House

Example: “It’s a long way from a little brick rent house on 2nd street in Hope, AR to the White House.”

blog - white houseHope to Higher Ground

Example: “But here in this small town called Hope, I was raised to believe that where a person started didn’t mean that’s where he had to stop. I always believed a kid could go from Hope to Higher Ground.”


Clearly, Governor Huckabee is a product of his religious and political background in Arkansas. He has a colorful speaking style using rhetorical strategies and metaphors to relate directly to his fellow “blue collar, not blue blood” citizens. His metaphor usage indicates his ability to tap into common figurative language use especially with personification and journey metaphors. I look forward to analyzing more of his speeches. Stay tuned!

Next time: Metaphors of Memorial Day