Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jon Huntsman and the (mayyyybe?) third party

This post has been chilling in the queue as a half-written draft for a couple of weeks now, but finally today I was inspired to finish and publish it (though it's a little shorter than I'd originally planned). The source of my inspiration was this post over at Politico, which I'll just let speak for itself:
Bristol Palin thinks it’s laughable that President Barack Obama’s children influenced his decision to support same-sex marriage. 
“While it’s great to listen to your kids’ ideas, there’s also a time when dads simply need to be dads,” Bristol, the eldest daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, wrote in a blog post titled “Hail to the Chiefs – Malia and Sasha Obama” on Thursday...  
"In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage.  Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview... 
Sometimes dads should lead their family in the right ways of thinking. In this case, it would’ve been nice if the President would’ve been an actual leader and helped shape their thoughts instead of merely reflecting what many teenagers think after one too many episodes of Glee."
Alright, that's it. I've had enough now. Regardless of what you think of Obama's statement yesterday (personally I agree with supporting same-sex marriage, but I have some issues with the timing and manner of his comments), I think what's really laughable is that Bristol f*cking Palin thinks that she's an appropriate person to be giving parenting advice to anyone, let alone our President.

The fact that this kind of stuff passes for political conversation these days with all of the significant problems that we're facing (ignoring) in our country right now is pretty sad, and it shows just how badly we need at least a third party, if not a complete overhaul of our political process. And maybe, just maybe, that's not too far off (here begins the original post).
“My first thought was, this is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script.”  
Those words were spoken Sunday night by Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate, in a public interview with me at New York’s 92nd Street Y. Huntsman was describing how his comments about the potential appeal of a third party got him disinvited to speak at a Republican National Committee event in Florida...
Why does this add up to a conviction on my part that Huntsman has one foot out the door of the Republican Party, and is likely placing a bet on his belief that a third party will be increasingly attractive to the electorate, perhaps not this year, but by 2016? 
One reason is how he contrasted Republicans from Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower to Richard Nixon with the current party orthodoxy. Could Ronald Reagan be nominated today? I asked. “Likely, no,” he said.  
And here’s what he said when a member of the audience posed this question to him: “Given the present direction and positions the party has taken ... is there room for people like you?” 
Well, he answered, “I’m sitting here as a Republican.” But after he talked with great enthusiasm about the rise of the unaffiliated voter and the challenge to the political duopoly, I posed one more question. 
“Why do I get the feeling,” I asked him, “that if we have this conversation a couple of years from now, you will not be sitting here as a Republican?” 
“Because,” he said with a smile, “you’re a good journalist.”
I suggest you read the whole piece, in part because it's tough to excerpt but also because it's generally interesting. I think Huntsman is far and away the most intriguing figure to have passed through the political realm this year--his knowledge and experience with China is particularly interesting and important, as is his take on scientific matters--and yet somehow he's not even the most popular Mormon in the Republican party right now.

I think Huntsman would have an easier time running as an independent (or trying to launch a third party), and I think he knows it. Our bizarrely polarized political climate has led to some truly strange outcomes and statements, with everyone oddly competing for fringe elements while largely ignoring the majority (well, a plurality anyway) of Americans.

I'm really not sure if a guy like Huntsman or Ron Paul or anyone who openly questions the two entrenched political parties can honestly gain any real traction in today's America, but I'm holding out hope. Because right now, I've got no idea who I want to vote for in November (or if I'm bothering to vote at all), so I'm waiting for inspiration. And I don't think I'm alone in that regard, although maybe I am.



  1. You are definitely not alone. Huntsman is someone with all of the necessary skills, he actually seems to have integrity and states what he believes. I truly hope that he does decide to go independent and provide middle of the road America a choice we can get behind.

    Rob in NJ

  2. Hear, hear. Glad to see that my words aren't all falling on deaf ears.