Our endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination
The 2012 American election season has begun. Whereas President Barack Obama has no serious contender for the Democratic nomination, the Republican Party has a field of six contenders (after Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain dropped out of the race) who are fighting to carry the torch of America’s “conservative” party. While the policies of today’s Republican Party are usually at odds with the liberal philosophy (liberal, not in the sense of America’s political discourse, but in the real meaning of the term), this time we find that there may be a representative of a GOP closer to what real liberals stand for.
As a matter of clarification for American audiences, when we talk about “liberalism” we are not referring to left-wing, big-government policies and politics, but to fiscally responsible and socially tolerant ideas. In other words, and as our motto reads: open minds, open markets and an open world. Call it a centrist view, if you wish. Having said that, we are independent and do not agree with all the policies of the Democratic Party, although we do find ourselves usually siding with them as the “lesser evil” in today’s American political scenario.
After many years of having no choice but supporting the Democratic candidate, we are pleased to finally see a Republican presidential candidate who’s not afraid of defying right-wing orthodoxy, denouncing uncivil rhetoric and putting moderation and common sense at the heart of his campaign. No wonder he put service ahead of party to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. You probably know who we are talking about by now. Yes, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.
Since launching his presidential bid last June, Mr. Huntsman has become the no-nonsense, moderate option among the Republican contenders. He has avoided the uncivil rhetoric of his rivals. He has kept true to his beliefs and ideas –which are pretty conservative (after all he was elected twice as governor of Utah) but not extreme at all. He has not pandered to the right-wing extremists who nowadays control much of the political machine of the GOP. Unlike what many believe (ourselves included) will be the GOP nominee this year, Mitt Romney, he’s not a phony. He answers the questions directly, without calculating how his answers may be seen by the custodians of far-right orthodoxy. When listening to Mr. Huntsman, we get the impression that we know what we would get, were he elected president of the United States. But what would we exactly get? The best indication lies on Mr. Huntsman’s record as governor, ambassador, government official and businessman.
During his time as Governor of the State of Utah –arguably one of the most conservative states in the country–, Mr. Huntsman avoided any kind of ideological crusades. He was a conservative, yes. He cut taxes on individuals and businesses, created a 5% flat tax, introduced school vouchers, implemented market-based healthcare reform without a mandate and signed some anti-abortion laws. But he was also a centrist. He supported action on climate change, endorsing a cap-and-trade system, and joined the Western Climate Initiative. He supported comprehensive immigration reform and opposed any hard-line rhetoric against undocumented immigrants. He cut sales taxes on food, which mostly affects those with lower incomes. He supported an increase in the federal minimum wage. He cut restrictions on the sale of alcohol. He implemented tax credits for solar energy projects. And to the surprise of many, in one of the most conservative states in the country –a state dominated by the Mormon Church–, he supported legislation that would have allowed civil unions for same-sex couples. He also supported bills to allow two unmarried, co-habiting adults to sign a "joint-support declaration" to gain inheritance rights and medical decisions for one another as well as a bill to outlaw employment and housing discrimination for LGBT people.
Unlike Mitt Romney, who has been on both sides of almost every issue, Jon Huntsman knows where he stands and he’s not walking away just to get a few more votes. He’s not a panderer, and even though we don’t agree with him on some issues (for instance, on abortion rights), he’s a tolerant man. Unlike all his contenders for the GOP nomination, he is not a divisive figure and is not willing to be one in order to get the nomination.
What about his presidential campaign? Governor Huntsman has avoided the vicious attacks against President Obama that the rest of the Republican candidates have so shamefully used. He has instead focused on the issues. Mr. Huntsman has put forward a sensible, pro-growth economic plan that would make government leaner and more efficient, cutting spending where it needs to be cut, including defense spending, the Holy Grail of the far-right. Mr. Huntsman recognizes the necessity to address America’s biggest economic problem, its massive debt. Unlike the rest of the GOP contenders, he has made clear that you can’t just cut taxes at any cost (he was the only Republican who didn’t sign Grover Norquist’s famous –or infamous– anti-tax pledge).
Mr. Huntsman has unique foreign policy qualifications and understands the world –after all, he has lived overseas four times. He has a deep knowledge of the emerging Asian markets, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, and has been involved in international trade negotiations as a United States Trade Representative and as a businessman. He understands where the future of the global economy is heading to and, unlike Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama, he would put trade at the center of his foreign policy agenda.
But perhaps what makes Mr. Huntsman so unique –and different from his GOP rivals– is his desire to move America’s political discourse to a more civil and respectful direction, starting with his own party. Mr. Huntsman is repelled by bombastic comments and hateful rhetoric, something common among today’s conservatives. Although he’s personally anti-abortion, he hasn’t used the rhetoric of social conservative groups on the subject. He’s respectful of those who support abortion rights. He was the only Republican candidate, along with Ron Paul, to reject the signing of an anti-gay marriage pledge. He has reiterated his support for civil unions for gay couples –the same position President Obama has taken. His speeches stress the need to unite, not divide. He sounds like a problem solver, not a bomb thrower, and judging by his record, we can believe his words.
There’s not much to say about Newt Gingrich –talking about bomb throwers–, Rick “Pastor-in-Chief” Santorum, Ron “Not-So-Libertarian-On-Civil-Rights” Paul, and Rick “Cowboy” Perry. But, what about the frontrunner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney? It would be nice to know what he truly believes in. Is he the 1994 centrist who described himself as "pro-choice" and distanced himself from the right-wing of the GOP to win Ted Kennedy's Senate seat? The 2002 moderate who described himself as "progressive" to win Massachusetts governorship? The 2008 presidential candidate who tried to out-conservative Jerry Falwell on social issues? Or the 2011 “moderate conservative” who is trying to get the nomination again? We may never know what Mitt truly believes in, if anything, but it seems he would do anything to get what he wants.
America’s poisoned political discourse desperately needs leaders who will not pander to the extremes but, instead, will look for common ground. Despite his errors and some flawed policies, we believe President Obama is such a leader. Now it’s time for the Republicans to find a leader capable of putting ideological purity aside, and injecting some common sense and pragmatism back into the party of Abraham Lincoln. America needs a centrist, fiscally responsible and socially tolerant alternative to the Democratic Party. We believe Jon Huntsman would be able to start this balancing act in American politics. It may be ironic that moderation is coming from Utah, or maybe not. After all, there’s no one better than a westerner to lead a rebellion.
This is not a general election
endorsement, but a party primary endorsement. Because of his common sense, because
of his character, because of his vision for his party, we are proud to endorse Jon
Huntsman for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Tags: "jon huntsman" "republican party" gop republican election elections "united states" democrat "democratic party" "barack obama" "mitt romney" conservative moderate liberal liberalism centrist politics
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