Today, let’s take a break from negativity. In the Republican Primary, this site endorses Jon Huntsman.
Mr. Huntsman will never win the nomination. He rejects creationism and climate denialism. He has the diplomat’s ability to speak to other cultures in their own terms, instead of the cultural hegemon’s insistence that they speak to him in his. In short, he rejects everything it means to be a Republican in the modern era. And by taking on the Republicans’ fringe, and its increasing pretensions to dominance, he shows no sign of stopping.
It’s this very commitment to centrism, and reasonable solutions, that together entitle him to the very position he’ll never occupy. Lesser men start from the center, and swerve right when it gets tough: McCain, for example. Huntsman shows every indication of sticking to his guns, even though it’ll cost him the nomination, to make a point about the way politics should be. For that, we applaud him.
To be clear, I at least could not support the Ambassador in a general election. The “flat tax,” and the notion that the poor should start paying taxes before the rich should pay more, remain wrongheaded and at odds with the facts (pdf). But a look at today’s political atmosphere makes clear that extremism begets extremism: when we first determine to forsake compromise, and set out to destroy one another rather than govern, we unlock Pandora’s box. It’s what happened in Wisconsin, and we can only fix the national problem by agreeing to govern together from the center again. Huntsman appears to understand as much, in a way that no other Republican does.
For that, he’s condemned to be an afterthought in a primary that’ll be defined by the Palins, Perrys, and Bachmanns, not by the Lugars and Huntsmans. That’s the Republicans’ loss — none of the former set have even a shadow of a shot in the general — but it’s the country’s loss, too. We deserve an election about ideas, not one where the Republican (wrongly) considers his opponent a foreign-born socialist, and the Democrat (probably correctly) considers his an intellectually bereft ideologue.