It’s been awhile since we’ve written at length about Jon Huntsman, and not without reason. After finishing in third place in the New Hampshire primaries, Jon withdrew from the nomination race and, frankly, our level of interest in politics withered. We knew that no other GOP contender could defeat President Obama, and knowing such, we both decided we’d be voting for Jon Huntsman as a write-in candidate, which we did. Last year we agreed that Governor Huntsman was the leader this country needed, so it should come as no surprise to our regular readers that we believe Governor Huntsman’s leadership is still needed by the GOP and America.
As we stated during his candidacy, Jon Huntsman’s public resume is impeccable, having served our country under four Presidents in various roles, including the Ambassadorship to both China and Singapore and multiple stints as a U.S. Trade Representative, some of which we highlighted in posts like THIS is what foreign policy looks like, Jon Huntsman’s CNN Op-Ed on North Korea and Video: The Huntsman-Gingrich Debate. And then there is his impressive record as Governor of Utah which we documented extensively with posts such as Draft Jon Huntsman, The Economic Case for Jon Huntsman, Jon Huntsman’s Jobs Plan and 2012 Fiscal Quiz. These facts are unchanging and will serve Jon well in any future endeavor.
But it is now 2013 and the venue as well as the players have changed. Gone are the regular stump speeches in which Jon can outline his vision for America. Similarly absent are the cast of GOP characters providing their own counterpoint (though more regularly “fodder”) to Jon’s positions. In order to make a sorely needed “rebooted” GOP a reality Jon will need to make his case in different ways. And fortunately for us (as well as all Huntsman supporters) he is doing just that.
Several months ago we had discussed writing a piece in which we planned to lay out several ideas we had for Jon with the intention to help build his brand and make him the leading voice in a refocused Republican party. But before we had a chance to do this, Jon beat us to the punch and began an impressive streak of public statements and career moves that both mirrored and improved upon our ideas. Staying true to his previous positions on compromise and civility, Jon accepted a leadership position in the bipartisan group Nolabels.org and was made a fellow at The Brookings Institute. Jon has also written an important article on the topic of GOP acceptance of gay marriage which is consistent with his position during the presidential campaign (and one with which we agree wholeheartedly). While we are thrilled by all of these developments there remains one item on our wish list that we hope to see become a reality in the near future. A book.
While it might seem cliché for a politician with major aspirations to write a book these days, we believe that a Huntsman book would not only offer obvious opportunities but it would also capture a unique opportunity that Jon himself has highlighted – the need for the party to lead with ideas.
While we think all of Governor Huntsman’s media appearances are great, we can’t help but feel a bit frustrated in that he isn’t sought even more by the media. While the media may now seek him for some insight into Asia or bi-partisanship, a book would allow Jon to channel the conversation to whichever subjects he desires and release himself from any media-imposed limits to topics on which he is more than qualified to speak. Additionally, a book would create an avenue for a media blitz, allowing Jon increased opportunities to be introduced to wider and wider audiences. Since the publishing process takes some time, the book could be released on a schedule best suited to Jon’s needs and impeccable sense of timing.
Naturally, we agree with Governor Huntsman when he says the party should lead with ideas, however we don’t see anyone at this point stepping up to the challenge. We believe this is a unique opportunity for any leader but especially in Jon’s case, and a book would serve as an ideal vehicle from which to seize this chance. A book format would allow Jon the space and time to elaborate on his policy ideas, both foreign and domestic; his record of success in Utah and how he would replicate that for America; and to define what we like to call “Huntsman Conservatism.” Television appearances and op-ed pieces simply can’t offer Jon this same level of exposure.
As more people see him on TV and reach for his book to learn more, Governor Huntsman would be able to grow the base. Far too many independent voters are former Republicans who feel the party no longer represents them. We believe a Huntsman book would appeal to these voters, and perhaps get them involved in the political process. Additionally, we believe a Huntsman book would appeal to centrists and Blue Dog Democrats as well, and thereby create a broad coalition of support for Jon to draw upon in his future endeavors.
In spite of the Presidential election we find ourselves in the same political environment that the candidates claimed needed fixing. Instead of embracing consensus to achieve common goals, our Congress has decided to dig in on both sides and ignore the will of the people, which is for compromise - to do something, anything, to improve the bleak financial future of the United States and to restore trust in the Legislative branch. The President has also steadfastly refused to compromise, treating it as a one way street in which neither he nor his party need to bother themselves, and so the level of trust in the Executive branch also suffers in the eyes of the American people. Democracy needs healthy, intelligent debate to survive, and with this current rate of partisan gridlock, it’s no wonder so many American’s feel the country is on the wrong track. While some players have changed, we remain convinced that there is no person on the Right better suited to promote sensible conservative ideas in a thoughtful, intelligent way than Jon Huntsman. (After all, Governor Huntsman was called “the Thinking Man’s Conservative“.) We also believe that “Huntsman Conservatism” highlights the most basic (and successful) elements of conservatism in partnership with science, tolerance, and limited government. Therefore, we believe America still needs Jon Huntsman - to continue to be a voice of reason, to promote healthy debate and to keep the party’s tent big.