Dear Governor Huntsman:
I was very pleased to finally have a chance to hear you speak this past Saturday. After several attempts—all shepherded by local Huntsman advocates and staff members, to whom I’m grateful—I was finally able to cart myself out to a local town hall meeting in Raymond NH during which you addressed perhaps 100 or so of us. We were rather tightly packed (along with too many cameras) into the fire station’s aging but dignified meeting room. I remember wondering if, ironically, we might not be violating some fire code.
You arrived; we pledged; the event began.
Let me take a moment to assure you that you’ve got my vote. You had it before the meeting and you still do. But now, having gotten that out of the way, please read on….
You face an uphill battle in this campaign and, though it’s yet early, the press has necessarily accelerated the campaign’s gestation in order to build a narrative that works for them. That narrative, based on polls and name recognition and glitz and controversy, only has a small role for the Governor Huntsman that keeps showing up for these debates and these radio interviews, the one with the stiff hand gestures and the polished, repetitive phrasings. That Governor Huntsman has already been relegated to the script’s margins. He’s the Star Trek ensign in the red shirt, the one that gets picked for the dangerous away mission and never returns. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that’s where you are in their story: you’re in the first few scenes and then… you’re not.
But there’s another Governor Huntsman, the one I met this past Saturday afternoon. He’s not the one showing up at the debates, or in the press, or in the videos, and I think it might be high time you rolled him out.
Here’s what that other guy showed me:
- There’s a Governor Huntsman with real passion, one who believes America needs a “blue sky” vision and that such a vision can not only do the mundane but important things like create jobs but, as importantly, can unify the country with the kind of national pride that built the transcontinental railroad, that sent men to the moon. That guy had sparks in his eyes when he talked about children who might still dream of going to Mars someday; that guy saw purpose; that guy was a leader.
- There’s a Governor Huntsman who understands compassion as more than just a sound bite, who can actually speak about it in real terms. That Governor Huntsman would have risen up in the debates during those ugly, hate-filled moments and said something, told those few that they don’t represent the rest of us and that they have no business calling themselves Republicans if they display that kind of despicable behavior. He wouldn’t have saved it for a post-debate media spin cycle.
- There’s a Governor Huntsman who loves science and the arts, who recognizes that these fields bring together the practical, the economic and the spiritual in unique and special ways and isn’t afraid to let us watch his face shine when he talks about it.
- There’s a Governor Huntsman that has a clear vision for the kind of role a smaller federal government should play, that does more than talk about what he’ll demolish or dispose of or eliminate. He recognizes that there are people involved, real people, people that require humanism and not rhetoric.
- And there’s a Governor Huntsman who tells the truth even when the truth is hard, someone who refuses to pretend he believes in silver bullets (even when fired from a Texas six-shooter) and isn’t afraid to say so. In doing so, he treats the body politic like it has intelligence, an all-too-rare feeling in a political landscape more interested in bullying than in getting things done.
What if that guy showed up? What if he said things that we’re different, real, even unpolished once in a while? What might happen then?
I imagine your advisers would tell you I’m crazy. You’re showing progress in the polls, they would say. Stick with it; see what happens. And they’ll soon tell you to shift a tad further right, though just enough that you won’t lose the center.
The irony here is that I believe you are incredibly electable in the general; I’m convinced you could pull Reagan Democrats like no one has since… well… Reagan. Still, you have to get the nomination and that path isn’t clear for the Governor Huntsman the country currently gets to see. But it might be there for an iconoclast, someone who is willing to do something bold, something that will make him stand out. Someone who will let us see the sparks. That guy… that Governor Huntsman…maybe he can win.
But first he needs to show up.
Republican, Consiberal and Huntsman Supporter