In Which I Make My First Presidential Campaign Contribution of the Election

To whom? you ask. Or maybe you don’t, as you naturally assume I will spend money on the candidate I expect to support in the general election. In which case you’d be wrong: I just sent $50 to Jon Huntsman, who is aiming for the GOP nomination for President of the United States.

Why? Because while I am at this point highly unlikely to vote for a Republican for president in the general election, the simple fact of the matter is that for the health of the US body politic, I would prefer the GOP nominate someone who is not completely batshit insane, either personally or in their policies (or both). Jon Huntsman does not strike me as completely batshit insane. Indeed, he strikes me as kind of the opposite, which is positively refreshing in the GOP field as it is currently constituted. I’ve noted before I have serious political issues with the man, but his track record in politics suggests to me that this is a guy who doesn’t inherently see people with other views as enemies to be nuked until they glow.

Mind you, if I wanted to be completely Machiavellian about it, I would have sent my $50 to Newt Gingrich, a man who confuses his inability not to say whatever entirely appalling bit of self-pleasuring wonkery that pops into his head at any one moment with being a sober and serious generator of statecraft, and who is unfathomably at the top of the GOP polls right now. The idea of the President being paired off against such a malevolent doughboy must fill Obama’s political strategists with glee.

However, I don’t want that. What I would actually like is two candidates I don’t see as entirely unfit for office (note I say “I” here — I’m not particularly interested if you agree with my assessment) go and have a presidential campaign that doesn’t make me feel like it’s being waged at the level of two second-graders sticking their tongues out at each other and talking to me like I jammed a cake mixer into my brain and clicked it over to the “high” setting. I figure a Huntsman/Obama election race is my best chance for a campaign that does not actively make my country stupider, either before or after the election.

If I believe it, I should probably support it. And so: $50 to Huntsman. If my contribution keeps the man in the race incrementally longer, bettering his admittedly terribly long odds of making it through the primary season, then good on me, I suppose. I don’t imagine this strategy of mine will make Democrats/liberals/Obama supporters happy, but you know what, if the feeling on the Obama side of things is that the only way he can win is against a foamy, ignorant ideologue whose election would almost certainly damage the country, then the President has other problems, and those should probably be addressed first. As for me, I don’t think you should let foamy, ignorant ideologues close enough to the presidency to possibly win it. Their track record of actually showing up in the Oval Office when they are is depressingly good.

Do I think Huntsman will make it out of primary season? Not really. I think when all is said and done, the GOP is going to go Romney, a fact which I suspect has Obama’s people rubbing their hands in delight almost as much as the prospect of going up against Gingrich (or Cain! Holy God, Cain!) might. And that’s the GOP’s karma. I’ve done my part by supporting the one GOP candidate in the race I think could offer a viable alternative to Obama. Whether they listen to me — a generally liberal fellow who nevertheless prefers thoughtful, pragmatic conservatism to the nest of crazy that the GOP currently appears to be — is up to them. I’m not going to wait up for that.

88 thoughts on “In Which I Make My First Presidential Campaign Contribution of the Election

  1. This liberal is happy and wonders if she should do the same, because she would like a Republican candidate who she could actually live with, rather than one who she’d rather leave politics to follow his/her lifelong love of fly fishing/oil painting/wildlife photography/etc.*.

    * This is a long list of people. Most of the current crop of prominent Republicans are on it.

  2. This is why I don’t do presidential campaign contributions. The people I like have no chance of winning the primary whether I donate or not. So, when they do leave the primary, then I’ll feel like I wasted my money. And when we get past the primary, I rarely (if ever) like any of the candidates.

  3. who is unfathomably at the top of the GOP polls right now

    There is nothing unfathomable about it. The Tea Party wing of the GOP is desperate for someone, anyone to be the nominee other than Mitt Romney. They’ve gone through: Bachman, Perry and Cain. Now they are onto Gingrich. It’s basically the same group of people running from one to the other.

  4. Yup. I don’t often vote for GOP candidates, and I don’t agree with a number of Huntsman’s positions, but if I had to choose one in this race I’d be relatively happy to go with him. He’s well informed, capable of intelligent compromise and not batshit crazy, which places him well ahead of any other Republican in the race in my estimation.

    Of course, he stands no chance at all of gaining his party’s nomination, mostly for those same reasons.

  5. What I fear most is that people are so dissatisfied with current economic conditions that they’ll vote for even the most insane republican over the present office holder not caring that he inherited these intractable problems and didn’t create them.

    So, yeah, I’m with you. Here’s hoping for a less than nuts GOP nominee.

  6. While I am a left-of-center moderate who will almost certainly vote for Obama if only to preserve some semblance of humanity in government, if Huntsman were to actually win the nomination I might have to take a hard look at who I vote for. Too bad it’s never going to happen.

  7. @ Becca Stareyes
    I would agree with you except those loves are more likely to be flying their private jet/drilling oil to make paint/shooting wildlife with a gun instead of a camera.

    As for a viable candidate, the GOP roster frightens me so much that I just want them to pick someone who will self destruct as quickly as possible to assure us 4 more years of mediocrity. My dream is that once Obama doesn’t have reelection to think about he goes back to his original campaign platform and truly tries to enact some real liberal change in our country.

  8. I’ve seen the argument that the GOP would be better off losing with a radical and responding by becoming more moderate, than losing with a moderate and becoming more radical. I’m not sure I buy it, though.

  9. When McCain was nominated last election, I actually thought, for a day or two, that we might have a choice in who we voted for. That a moderate republican had been nominated. And then McCain’s first decision as the presidential nominee ended any hope for rational debate.

    Violent divisiveness and jingoism is destroying our country.

  10. Huntsman doesn’t stand a chance because he bears a passing resemblance to “sane.” If a candidate doesn’t sound like he/she’s fresh out of Arkham Asylum, they won’t pass muster with the GOP electorate.

  11. I’ve thought about doing the same thing: I really like what I’ve seen from Huntsman, and should the race turn to an Obama/Huntsman race, I’d really be thrilled: the discourse would hopefully be a good one. I like that he has some grip on reality, and his answers in some of the debates have been good ones. (Especially if China becomes a big issue.)

    Personally, I think that the media will burn themselves out on Gingrich, and they’ll shift over to Huntsman in the next couple of months.

  12. @David – yup this is my biggest fear. The “anybody but Obama” vote. Reminds me of the Carter re-election and Dukakis election. On the other hand, Obama will have 500-1000 million to spend on the campaign. He got Osama. He isnt completely batshit crazy. The economy might get a bit better SOON. And a lot of us are terrified of yet another Bush in the White House.

    I have been pushing a single issue on people who might switch their votes.
    Do you think abortion should be banned? If yes, vote GOP, if no, vote DEM.

    I know that things are MUCH more complex than that in the real world, but the GOP plan to solve everything is to cut taxes and regulation. And that didnt really work for the last 10 years did it?

  13. @rick
    Yes, probably, which is why it’s my idealized dream and not anything I expect from reality. And nicer than ‘want them to fall off a cliff’ because I really don’t care that much what they do as long as they aren’t irritating me.

  14. Thank you for the post, John. I have been dismayed by the level of rhetoric going on in the Republican party, and this gives me someone to look at.

  15. Haven’t read all the comments, and I realize that you specifically said you don’t care. However, count me in the liberals who are just fine with you donating to Huntsman. A sane election would be a nice change and a less, shall we say, “turgid” candidate might make eventual compromise a bit easier.

    I like Huntsman. I like Gary Johnson marginally better. But for now, Obama still gets my vote.

  16. @Andrew, I think Huntsman is too sane and too liberal for him to be a natural next leap from Gingrich. Like how Romney was a fairly popular governor in Massachussetts, Huntsman was an extremely popular governor in Utah, but he has too many things going against him in the minds of the Bible Belt Republicans for him to have a serious chance.

    The GOP’s biggest dilemma is that their ideal candidates all have no chance whatsoever of winning the general election against Obama, which is why the polls and media have been so schizophrenic about who the “trendy” (i.e. non-Romney) front runner is. Romney is close enough but still requires some concessions in ideology in exchange for a better chance at winning. To nominate Huntsman would be too much of an ideological trade-off for the GOP to decide it was worth it.

    I really like Huntsman too (speaking as a politically-liberal Mormon, not just because he’s Mormon but an all-around cool and level-headed guy); Romney’s ok, but doesn’t necessarily have 100% of the Mormon vote automatically, and barring something happening that not even Nate Silver could credibly predict that puts Huntsman back in the race I’ll be voting for Obama again. It’s just a shame (though it’ll be a fun shame to watch) that all signs right now are pointing to it being almost too easy of a contest, be it against Gingrich or Romney.

  17. Huntsman is the only candidate for the Republican nomination who’s not a loon, a joke, a tragic figure, Mitt Romney, or some combination of the four. And while Mitt is smarter than most of his fellow candidates, he’s also a complete chameleon, abjectly eager to jump through the most vile of hoops if it will get him a vote. There are many things to admire about Huntsman, which makes him practically unique among the Republican field.

    All that said, if you think he’s reasonable and moderate you really should check out his economic plan. In short, he wants to eliminate taxes on unearned income (capital gains, dividends), eliminate all credits and deductions, and greatly reduce tax rates for all brackets. The truly wealthy would pay no taxes, the top few percent would see a big tax cut, the middle class would more or less break even (it friends on the credits and deductions they currently can claim), and the working poor and lower-middle-class families would take it in the neck (tax rates mattering much less than credits and deductions). Oh, and total tax revenues would fall, making the deficit worse. About all you can say for Huntsman’s plan is that it’s not quite as cruelly regressive as Cain’s original 999 plan.

  18. I have thought for a long time that those of us who are disgusted by our choices come the general election ought to throw our efforts into the early stages of the campaigns and the primaries/caucuses. One of the reasons our choices in the general election stink so badly is that normal people avoid thinking about the election until it is too late to do anything but complain,

  19. @ Peter Cibulskis: “Do you think abortion should be banned? If yes, vote GOP, if no, vote DEM.”

    Like Rep. Bart Stupak, for instance? Sen. Ben Nelson? Sen. Robert Casey?

    Yes, yes, I know … Supreme Court picks are important. But thanks to too-often Dem cooperation with Repubs, Roe v. Wade is becoming less relevant all the time. Having a right to something means squat if you’re prevented from having access to it.

  20. @Jesse: Certainly possible, if not probable, but I have a feeling that a lot of the populatity here is based on the guidence of the Republican of the week. Attention gets to them, something bad is brought up (Cain’s sexual allegations, Perry’s general lack of intelligence, Bachmann’s general lack of sanity, and Newt’s own issues that’ll inevitably be reminded to us.), and they move onto someone else. I suspect that Romney is the guy that’ll get the election, but I just like Huntsman much more. I don’t see a majority of the center of the country looking for a Republican that’s turned so far right that they’ve lost sight of the main objective: they’ll pick someone who appeals to both sides, and it’s a decent strategy. I suspect that we’ll see something like that come out in the primaries. I suspect that he’d make for a good VP, at the very least.

  21. I’m in despair over this election. Huntsman is the only sane Republican on the roster, which means there is no hope that he will be nominated. Whatever batshit-asylum-escapee ends up running against Obama, I fully expect the GOP will go full-out Willie Horton during the campaign, and I will spend every evening screaming at the radio and self-medicating until the election.

  22. If Obama’s people are looking forward to facing off against Romney, they’re guilty of wishful thinking, and if you agree with them, you’re wrong, too.

    Despite polls showing that Obama could beat Cain or Bachmann or even Perry, they’ve shown that Obama is likely to lose to a generic Republican. And Mitt Romney is that generic Republican.

  23. Were I American, the temptation to write in “Aragorn son of Arathorn” on my ballot might prove too strong to resist. (It’s probably a good thing that I’m not, then, as I do believe that actually voting is important.)

  24. Who is more liberal, Huntsman or Obama? I’m asking this as a serious question.

    I consider myself liberal, and I don’t consider the President very liberal at all. How far to right (or left) of Obama is Huntsman. Or are they pretty much interchangeable?

  25. @Bearpaw – which is why the majority of my donations go to places like planned parenthood.

    You are correct that there are/were people of both parties on either side of an issue, but the derisive campaigns make the parties more and more polarized. Governor Romney is a great choice for president. Candidate Romney is a flip-flopping lunatic.

  26. Not only is a liberal giving to Huntsman a reasonable idea, but going further might be, too. For the last ten years I’ve wondered whether switching to the Republican Party and voting exclusively for sane people might be the best way to do my country some good.

    Arlo Guthrie put it best when he commented on his political affiliation: “I became a registered Republican about five or six years ago because to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.”

  27. As was pointed out earlier, Hunstman only looks OK compared to the others. On an issue by issue basis, he’s to the right of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, which is OK if you go in for that sort of thing – or if those policies wouldn’t actually have any meaningful impact on you and your family, as you would have the resources to avoid the consequences of those policies.

    Since the GOP has been Ground Zero in the war against the middle and working classes since Regan’s election in 1980, I really don’t see any reason to root for its continued existence as a major political party. The GOP has had all that time to decide what best embodies “conservatism,” and I think we should give the people who comprise the party the courtesy of believing that what they seem to be is what they mean to be. I don’t understand this yearning for a sane conservatism in the face of all evidence that there is no such thing.

  28. You’re a less nihilist man than I am.

    Personally, I also want there to be a sane loyal opposition. I don’t see why it has to be to the right of the Democratic Party. I think the only way we’re going to get one is to destroy the Republican Party as a national force, so that a real left party can split off from the Democrats, who would take their rightful place as the US’s conservative party.

  29. Matt:

    In an ideal world, I’d like there to be a viable party to the left of the current Dems as well, but it’s difficult to see that happening given that part of the reason the Republicans freakin’ /exist/ is because there’s a sufficient number of people who would vote for batshit crazy. Recall that even in ’08 around 30% of the electorate approved of Bush the Lesser.

  30. I won’t go so far as to give him money (mostly ’cause I don’t have any) but I will happily vote for Huntsman in the Georgia Primary if he’s still in the race when it gets here. (Yes, Georgia allows you to vote in any party at the primary. I did the same thing when it was Bush and McCain, only McCain Lost. 8 years later I’m kind of glad he never made it that far, although I’m not sure the alternative was any better.)

    I’d be willing to support Romney as well if he’d just stop backtracking and denying every good decision he ever made while in office.

  31. As a former Republican, John, I thank you for the contribution to correcting the insanity that’s overtaken my former party.

    There are too many axis of disagreement for left-right to be a meaningful division. I wish that the two current parties would depart far down their respective (left or right) asymptotes and leave the great middle to sort things out.

  32. Barring Michelle Obama dropping a nuke on the next NASCAR race, I’ll probably vote for BHO. Sigh. He’s been a disappointment, mainly because he isn’t quite hard-assed enough and is prone to comity too long. Which is a sad comment on the US today.

    That said, I lean to the “Democrats for Bachmann” movement: crossover and vote in the bat-shit-craziest GOP contender around. Just to be sure. (Ref. MO nuking NASCAR, above.) It would be nice to think a less-crazy Republican presidential candidate would lead the GOP out of the wilderness, but I’m not willing to bet actual money on it.

    Regards,
    Jack Tingle

  33. How can I call myself a Republican when I support President Obama? I can call myself a Republican because the Republican Party has not offered a credible candidate in many years. I would consider voting Republican if the party nominated a credible candidate, such as Jon Huntsman.

    I last voted for a Republican candidate in a presidential election in 1996 for Bob Dole and no one expected him to win. I would not and did not vote for George W. Bush. John McCain has more integrity than George W., but he was not the right man for these challenging times. For the sake of the country, the GOP should nominate a serious candidate in 2012.

  34. Hunstman strikes me as a man eager to run for Vice President. I don’t think Romney would tap him though, as that would further inflame the anti-Mormon section of the Republican base.

  35. My own plan is to do volunteer work if at all possible for either Huntsman or Johnson assuming they have some ground headquarters in my state(I live near the capital city in my state so getting to such location seems possible).

  36. ” don’t imagine this strategy of mine will make Democrats/liberals/Obama supporters happy,but you know what, if the feeling on the Obama side of things is that the only way he can win is against a foamy, ignorant ideologue whose election would almost certainly damage the country,then the President has other problems,

    Re: “democrats/liberals/Obama supporters”, methinks thou conflatest too much. I have a solid voting history of voting Democrat, but I wouldnt callmyself an Obama supporter at this point. He has ‘normalized’ what had been radical right wing fantasies: assassinating american citizens with zero due process, using state secrets BS to prevent releasing torture photos and to prevent innocent torture victims from getting their day in court, making sure those who committed torture are never prosecuted for their war crmes, and Obama is pushing for social security and medicare cuts.

    if we had instant runnoff voting, Obama would not be my first or even second choice. because we have straight majority-vote-wins voting, tactical voting will likely require I vote for Obama as the least fascist of the two evils.

    given that caveat, as a democrat, I dont have a problem with you sending money to a republican candidate. me, I am sending my money to Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson. I would rather supporr real progressives than the least insane right wing cadidate. but to each his own.

    as for obama can only win against a foamy nutjob, I think that says more about the American voting age public than it says about obama. obama assassinated an ametican without due process and most ameticans dont care, and most americans are located someehere to tje right ofthat position.

  37. Matt McIrvin 1:46:

    I think the only way we’re going to get [a sane loyal opposition] is to destroy the Republican Party as a national force, so that a real left party can split off from the Democrats, who would take their rightful place as the US’s conservative party.

    Hear, hear. Kevin 1:52 correctly points out that this is unlikely, but it’s the only way to wind up with sane politics in the United States.

    I’ve been watching the Overton window slide to the right my entire life. And I know it’s been said here before, but do you realize that Richard Nixon would probably be too liberal to be nominated as a Democrat if he were alive today?

    If we can’t make this back into a civilized country, I may wind up moving to one. Unfortunately the trend is away from civilization instead of toward it.

  38. Scalzi, I’m a borderline socialist and registered Democrat so that I can have a voice in the primaries. Your point is so well taken that I think it’s about time I change my affiliation so I can vote for Huntsman (not that he has much chance winning Texas).

  39. It’s so bizarre that the only candidate who is reasonable sane – Huntsman – is totally shunned by his party. I may follow your lead and donate to him. It makes me feel less shitty than voting for Obama again for some reason.

  40. I appreciate the author takes pains to mantion that he speaks only for himself and from perusing the comments he obviously has plenty of like minded followers. For what its worth here is my opinion:
    ANY of the Republican candidates would be a massive improvement over Obama.
    I wonder how many of the people here would believe the current candidates are batshit crazy if they spent time actually listening to them rather than hearing what the Liberal media claims they said.

  41. John B:

    “I wonder how many of the people here would believe the current candidates are batshit crazy if they spent time actually listening to them rather than hearing what the Liberal media claims they said.”

    I would suspect many of them, since many direct quotes from the current candidates are indeed batshit crazy. And not just in excerpt — indeed, it’s better to let them ramble on to get the full scope of it.

    But I do thank you for implying people here have no ability to a) follow the candidates directly, b) come to any conclusions other than those you wish to suggest a shadowy “liberal media” provides them. I understand why such might be implied, mind you. Nevertheless, such condescension is always appreciated.

  42. walthe310: “For the sake of the country, the GOP should nominate a serious candidate in 2012.”

    The GOP is certainly acting as if they want to lose 2012. Why would they want to run the country in such a terrible state, instead of sniping from the sidelines? By the time 2016 comes along, the recession will be over, they will be able to claim that it was GOP policy that caused it to happen and try to field a serious candidate then.

  43. For what it’s worth, Huntsman was the best governor we’ve had in Utah, at least since 1976 (I didn’t live here before that so I can’t say). The worst thing he did was his choice of running mate, our current governor, who would fit into the crowd of republican hopefuls very nicely.

  44. I really and truly dislike the “if you disagree with me, it must be because you’ve been brainwashed by the media” meme, and every time I see it, I have this strong urge to take whoever’s doing it up a few hundred feet in a hot-air balloon with a bottomless basket, and explain that they only think they’re going to fall out because they’ve been brainwashed by their science teachers into believing that “gravity” nonsense.

    On a different note: while I think contributing does help, saying that you’re contributing will undo all the good you did by actually contributing. You didn’t give enough to overcome the damage he’ll sustain when his competition paints him as beloved by liberals/the liberals’ choice/RINO etc.

  45. Dude, I was a YOUNG REPUBLICAN. And a College Republican. And until Bush started proving himself to be a complete incompetent, I’d never really questioned the politics I’d inherited from my parents. (Incidentally, I was a Young Republican in UTAH, home of the Huntsman, although he came to his governorship after I’d left.)

    And I think it’s pretty obvious that the current crop of GOP is really not up to even the standards I was used to as a wee Republican. I really thought I was joking a few years into Bush’s administration where I said that if the Dems presented a puppy, the Republicans would kick it. I really did not think I would hear the party I was raised in argue against teachers, healthy eating, empathy, exercise, libraries, employment bills, and laws against child labor, just to name a few, but well, they have. And it seems solely out of antipathy for the Dems, or to chase a demographic that defines themselves as being not Liberal. This has led to an unhealthy anti-intellectual streak, which is manifesting itself in Cain’s false dichotomy of “leader, not a reader” and reactive politics all dedicated to screwing over the other side, rather than building bridges between them.

    Which is to say that while I disagree with many of Huntsman’s policy stances, he at least seems to project the values of somebody who cares about governing for the sake of his constituency, rather than as a pissing contest. I would still vote for Obama over him, but I think it would be nice if the Republican party could salvage some sense of social responsibility.

    Love the liberal media claims. There’s enough material packed into two little words to take up entire threads. Thanks for playing, but no, we know how irrational the current crop is because we HAVE listened to them. Listening to them gives us lots of ammo for fun Thanksgiving conversations with the family. (Remember, I was a Young Republican!)

    Even if it paints him as a worse choice to some folks, I think it’s important to be transparent about support for folks on the other side of the aisle. Like us, not all of them are happy with their leadership, and many of them would like to compromise if they felt they had any chance of success. As it is, some of them may be rethink their support for their obvious fore-runners, because they realise there’s a chance for bridge building elsewhere.

  46. I find it funny to read how many people here believe the GOP crop is insane/batshit crazy. I usually feel that way about liberal politicians. I guess sanity is in the eye of the beholder.

  47. All that said, if you think he’s reasonable and moderate you really should check out his economic plan. In short, he wants to eliminate taxes on unearned income (capital gains, dividends), eliminate all credits and deductions, and greatly reduce tax rates for all brackets. The truly wealthy would pay no taxes, the top few percent would see a big tax cut, the middle class would more or less break even (it friends on the credits and deductions they currently can claim), and the working poor and lower-middle-class families would take it in the neck (tax rates mattering much less than credits and deductions). Oh, and total tax revenues would fall, making the deficit worse. About all you can say for Huntsman’s plan is that it’s not quite as cruelly regressive as Cain’s original 999 plan.

    What Warren Terra said. In addition, Huntsman favours a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion.

    Look, Stephen Harper is a calm person, too, but he holds political and economic views that I find abhorrent. I wouldn’t send a red penny to Harper to reward him for not being batshit crazy, because that’s a pretty low bar.

    John and anyone else are free to send money to anyone they like. But those of you who think Huntsman is some kind of moderate, a throwback to Eisenhower Republicans, just might want to take a closer look at his platform.

  48. PixelFish:

    “And it seems solely out of antipathy for the Dems, or to chase a demographic that defines themselves as being not Liberal.”

    There has always been a contingent of “hippie-punchers” among the GOP’s supporters — these are the folks who don’t really care about policy, but who are happy when they get to see those darn liberals get their panties in a wad. What’s changed in my lifetime is that where once the hippie-punching Republicans were little more than a small-but-reliable voting bloc, they have in recent years managed to become major drivers of the GOP agenda. And the real problem with this is that when your major policy concern is punching hippies, there’s really no room for compromise — which I think goes a long way in explaining what we’ve been seeing in recent years.

  49. Ron Paul anyone? I see him as a candidate that would appeal to many – right or left. Like Gary Johnson, he is pretty much ignored by the media, but has great (real) grass root support.
    By the way, I have really enjoyed reading all of these posts – it’s nice to see discussion and not incessant vitriol.

  50. I am so happy to read this. I, too, am a liberal, but I’m definitely a moderate about many things, and extremism on either side of the aisle bothers me. I’m really thrilled that you’re so thoughtful about your political decisions, and that you’re thinking about what’s actually best for the country, rather than any one party over another. Also, yes, I want Obama to continue to PROVE his ability to do this job, rather than be the default candidate in the face of batshit craziness.

    Thank you, John.

  51. Homer:

    While I respect Ron Paul’s willingness to stick with his principles, and especially that he cares about civil liberties (unlike nearly any other pol, including the President), I find his non-liberties policy stands to be on the batshit crazy radical side of things and can’t see myself voting for him.

  52. Jon Huntsman Jr. is certainly not bat-shit crazy.

    His father has a couple of billion dollars and gave him every advantage in the world, which would drive all of the Occupy Wall Street crowd bat-shit crazy, but that is beside the point. It’s especially insignificant since Jon Sr. has given over a billion of his cash to worthwhile causes and inspired other rich folk, some of them conservative commentators, to tithe at the same level.

    Jon Huntsman Jr. was appointed by Barack Obama to be the Ambassador to China, a pretty serious feather in anyone’s cap. He repaid that gift by resigning and running against the man who gave him international validation in the very next election. How’s that for loyalty?

  53. ANY of the Republican candidates would be a massive improvement over Obama.
    Really? MASSIVE?

    Could you give a concrete example how Bachmann would be a massive improvement?

    Could you give a concrete example how Cain would be a massive improvement?

    PS
    Sorry, tax cuts and deregulation do not count as an improvement. They are how we got into this financial mess in the first place.

  54. Remember in 2000 when John McCain and Bill Bradley pledged to run a clean and intelligent general election campaign? Then we got Bush v. Gore.

    Some days, I wonder if Washington might rise from the grave, call Queen Liz, and go, “We’ve reconsidered. If we come back, can we have Eddie Izzard for PM?”

  55. John, I understand where you are coming from. In the past, I’ve voted in Republican primaries–even though for all intents and purposes I’m a liberal/Democrat–because if the other party might win, I want the best that they have taking the office. Luckily I live in a state where you don’t have to pick a party. You can just show up at their primary and vote, regardless of affiliation.

    As regards the “liberal media” meme batted around above: baloney. Get that Neo-con line of garbage out of your mind. Just because Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch said it doesn’t make it so. Go find a copy of “What Liberal Media” by Eric Alterman. It might be a few years old now, but you’ll realize the media is not as liberal as you wish it was. Otherwise, the current crop of Republican pretenders to the throne would have all be chased out of politics by now.

  56. Well…

    What I want is a strong and sane two-party system where the Democrat is somewhere on the middle-left of the spectrum, and the Republican is somewhere on the middle-right of the spectrum. What I think we have now is a system where the Republicans are mostly lunatics, and the Democrats keep moving to the right to pick up campaign contributions since they know that everyone left-of-center has no one else to vote for.

    On one hand, in a Obama-Huntsman race, there’d be little difference between their positions. On the other hand, if someone like Huntsman could secure the Republican nomination, the Democrat could stake out a more left-leaning position, and that would be better for the country as a whole. Right now, we have a Democratic party that contains all reasonable positions, left middle and right, and the Republicans are just talking crazy and trying to choose among the dumbest rich people in the country, Romney who has no position other than wanting power, and Huntsman who would be a reasonable Republican nominee 40 years ago and has no chance now.

  57. Jon Huntsman Jr. was appointed by Barack Obama to be the Ambassador to China, a pretty serious feather in anyone’s cap. He repaid that gift by resigning and running against the man who gave him international validation in the very next election. How’s that for loyalty?

    Gift? Huntsman was eminently qualified for the ambassadorship (as opposed to receiving it as a political goodie). And don’t think Obama’s appointment was merely a big favor. Shipping Huntsman off to China had the nice effect of getting him out of the political way for a while, and that does seem to be paying off for Obama. Huntsman is a Republican, which is, you know, not Obama’s political base, and doesn’t owe him “I promise to not run for my own party’s nomination” as a thank-you for being asked to represent his country.

  58. Well…

    What I want is a strong and sane two-party system where the Democrat is somewhere on the middle-left of the spectrum, and the Republican is somewhere on the middle-right of the spectrum.

    Can we get a 3 party system? Sane centrists, hippy freak-lefties and fascist bible-thumping righties??

    Somewhere between 40-80 percent would vote for the centrist candidate and we could ignore the extremists of both sides.

    /sigh – never gonna happen my friend

  59. Peter:

    A centrist party (Reform Party) was tried. Ross Perot was its candidate in 1996, IIRC, and then in 2000 Pat Buchanan decided to kill it, hijacking it for his own candidacy and splitting it up.[1] About the only notable to run under its banner besides Perot was Jesse Ventura, for Minnesota governor.

    Given the poor state of the political conversation in the USA and how the system’s rigged to support the duopoly, I doubt a resurrection would remain sane or centrist or relevant.

    [1] For all that it sounds a bit conspiracy theorish, I really do think he did it to kill a threat to the Republican Party.

  60. I’ve been watching the Overton window slide to the right my entire life.

    Watch the kids in the street.

    Now look at the demographics of Fox News Geezers.

    Change is coming. It may take another decade or two. That window is going to slide back with a vengeance.

  61. where the Democrat is somewhere on the middle-left of the spectrum, and the Republican is somewhere on the middle-right of the spectrum.

    We sort of had that in 2000 when Bush was running as a “compassionate conservative” and Gore as a moderate technocrat and all everybody could complain about was how there was no choice between the two.

  62. I still struggle to understand why sane, rational educated people vote GOP at all. I get that the Dems aren’t great. I get that Obama is flawed, and squandered the majority he had two years ago. But I can honestly say that there isn’t a single plank of the GOP platform that doesn’t make me want to heave so hard I lose breakfast from two days ago.

    Their economic policies have repeatedly proven to be disastrous (favoring short-term gain for the already-wealthy over long-term sustainable growth.) They’re all anti-abortion and anti-gay. They’re all in favor of gutting environmental protections and progress toward sustainable energy. They’re all in favor of pissing away billions on unnecessary military spending.

    So what is it? What’s the appeal? Because I honestly do not get it. If you’re not a short-sighted nihilist theocrat with a bad case of jingoism, what, really, does the GOP offer?

  63. Joe 9:08, unfortunately what we have is a two-party system where the Democrats are on the middle-right, and the Republicans are on the far right, and there’s no credible left at all.

    Matt 10:20, from your keyboard to the gods’ monitors. I just hope I live to see it.

  64. Poor bloke would be unelectable in Australia, because of his surname. The hate-ads would write themselves. I fact, I get a visceral, illogical negative reaction to him just reading his surname.

  65. xopher: unfortunately what we have is a two-party system where the Democrats are on the middle-right, and the Republicans are on the far right, and there’s no credible left at all.

    How large is the left in this country to start with? (left as defined by the rest of the world, not the nuts on the far right) In a strange way, the 2 party system forces both parties to move towards the center in order to win. When the left went too far to the left in the 70s (sex, drugs and rocknroll, equal rites), the squares moved/voted to the right. Now that the right has gone batshit crazy (fascism, jingoism, oligarchy, theocracy, state religion, war mongering), the sane right have moved back towards the left.

    The ONLY chance for a 3rd party centrist candidate is if we had direct election of the president. Too much entrenched power for a 3rd party to get its foot in the door.

  66. “Overton Window moving to the right” is actually an oversimplification. On hot-button cultural issues like feminism, civil rights and race relations, gay rights, etc. (with the very important exception of abortion), the motion has actually been in a liberal direction for the past few decades; the very loud religious right is a reaction to that. On military/foreign policy the US public are fickle: they were OK with the slow ramp-down of the Cold War empire in the 1990s, then September 11th happened and it was ultra-jingo time for a while; right now they couldn’t care less.

    That leaves economic, fiscal and welfare policy, the great right-wing triumph, where Clinton echoed Reagan and today’s Democrats are way to the right of the Nixon administration.

    The reason I think things are going to change is that today’s young adults are confronted with an employment and debt crisis of a magnitude we really haven’t seen since the Great Depression. There is nothing for them in the current system. The famous early-90s malaise that GenXers like me had to deal with was a minor blip compared to this. And we were conservatively inclined to begin with; these kids aren’t. They don’t remember the Soviet Union boogeyman; Chinese “Communism” is just an element of global capitalism; they don’t know who Jimmy Carter was or have any memory of Johnson’s War on Poverty. The old slogans don’t work on them. And, of course, they’re culturally much more liberal than older voters, and heirs to decades of declining general bigotry.

    Now, they’re young, and that blunts their electoral effectiveness just because it’s hard to get young people to vote. While a youth vote can be cajoled out in exceptional elections (2008 was one), the US electorate, especially in midterm and odd-numbered years, is forever and always skewed toward retirees and other older voters, whose attitudes solidified decades ago in a very different political environment. (The practical obstacles that make it nontrivial for college students to vote don’t help.)

    But that will change; these kids are going to get older and they’re never going to forget what’s happening to them now. This is not just the liberalism of young people; my generation was not like this. I think the 2008 election was a leading indicator. Barack Obama himself is governing as an ordinary late-20th-century Democrat, but his election could not have happened without this trend happening under the surface. And it’s not over.

  67. Ron Paul believes that everyone should have the right to personal autonomy except for women of childbearing age. That wrecks any interest I might have had in him and his policies right there. Add in his idiot son, his paranoia about the Federal Reserve and his advocacy of returning to the gold standard, and I would rather swallow ground glass than vote for him.

  68. While I think it is a waste of $50 I applaud your thinking. One of the reasons we have such crappy Democrats is that they don’t have to be any better than crappy to be worlds better than what has been oozing up from the Republican ranks. If the Republicans return to planet Earth it would force Democrats back closer to the worker-friendly party is was 30 years ago and – maybe – we could have a good country back again.

    But even if Huntsman were to be elected President his mindset, that the other guy is not the enemy to be nuked, would not offset the Republican mantra of Elephant Uber Alles. The leaders in the House & Senate as well as of the Party have demonstrated over the last few years that NOTHING is more important than total domination of all the levers of power. Their behavior since the 08 crash has been to damage the country, to slow or prevent recovery to do anything possible, not because they want to improve America but because they see it as their way of regaining power. This is a sad state of affairs.

  69. While I think Huntsman is the most sane of the main pack, I have to remember that he is much more conservative than I prefer and his election would give the GOP (including its crazies) additional clout. That would be a disaster IMO. If the House wasn’t paralyzed with Tea Party-ites and the Senate wasn’t blocked by filibusters and 60-vote super-majority requirements to pass legislation I *might* be willing to give Huntsman a try. But this isn’t the case and Obama has done a better job of representing my interests than Huntsman will, so no.

    Elsewhere… I’ve happy to have the spare cash to donate to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for US Senate in MA.

  70. It’s a pretty sad testament to the state of the GOP that “Not actually batshit insane” is a viable qualifier for the best GOP candidate…

    @Improbable Joe:

    What you want is /not/ a two-party system, but a multi-party system with at least three major contenders and a slew of smaller parties that get enough seats to be viable swing votes.

    The three-way split makes it very improbable that a single party will be able to swing a majority all on its own, and the viable existence of smaller parties means that when a major party diverges too much from what its primary demographic believes in, they stop being a major party — and one of the others will likely rise in its place. At the same time, the minority parties can focus on their particular pet peeves and use their position as a swing vote for bargaining purposes on a per-legislation basis.

    … And most importantly, with a more fluid balance of power people tend to be more civil. After all, the party that right now is in the minority opposition could be the one you /really/ need to court a vote from for the legislation that comes up next week. Best not burn any bridges by being a dick about it.

  71. Billy:

    Do /any/ of the candidates support gay marriage? Even Obama isn’t too keen on it.

    I’d think that most Whatever readers recognize that “wedge issues” are just that and aren’t a good sole reason to vote one way or another.

  72. There’s a difference between actively campaigning FOR SSM or abortion rights, being open but not activist on these issues, and actively campaigning AGAINST these issues. Huntsman falls into the last category, and that’s a dealbreaker for me. These aren’t just wedge issues, and Huntsman’s appreciation of the artistry of Captain Beefheart and the validity of climate change research doesn’t make up for the way he’s tacked hard right on several social and economic issues recently.

    I’m in Canada. I would be quite willing to support an old-fashioned Red Tory like Joe Clark or Flora MacDonald for PM. If I were American, I can’t ever see supporting someone like Huntsman because for all the generosity of spirit behind the “make Republicans better” campaign, those Republicans are going to turn themselves inside out on almost every issue to appeal to their highly polarized base — as Huntsman just did.

  73. I too, am against Jon Huntsman on most issues, and I can’t say I’m surprised at that. He is, after all, a former Governor of Utah. You don’t get that gig without being very conservative, and very active about it to boot.

    The thing that strikes me positively about Huntsman is that while he is extremely conservative, he appears to know how to keep a civil tongue in his head, and doesn’t appear to view people like me as dirty commie hippie socialist scum, unlike other GOP candidates I could name.

    As for Romney, he seems civil enough, but his problem appears to be insincerity. He’ll take a stand on an issue, and then walk it back at the first sign of TP opposition. A Republican friend of mine once told me “You know how they used to call Bill Clinton ‘Slick Willie?’ I get that same vibe from Romney.” I replied that as a Democrat, I got that vibe from John Edwards as well. :-)

  74. (Probably way off topic; I think the core of the problem might be voting itself. It removes responsibility, both in the voter and in those elected. A system that used petition instead of voting — remain in office as long as you obtain and retain a minimum number of verified citizens signing up to have you represent them, they are essentially giving you a proxy — might work better. But that’s not the system we have.)

  75. While I think your reasoning is sound, John, as a former, and excommunicated Mormon, I couldn’t vote for the man or give him money. The white supremacist doctrinal underpinnings of that faith are too much for me to overcome, no matter what the P.R. campaign leads one to believe. That said, it is why I couldn’t do what you’re doing, which is my response to your original post, and I don’t want to derail the thread into a religious debate.

  76. there are two political parties because we have majority-vote-wins elections rather than condercet voting or instant runoff voting. majority wins voting by its very nature splits the candidates into the two most likely to win candidates. or possibly the two broadest supported by their active base candidates. that said, I think it is rather generous and perhaps a bit of woshful thinking for people to suggest that some magical mystical “third padty” would be the perfect solution to america’s problems. I support converting over to a condercet voting method because it would weaken the party machine itself. But I am under no delusion that it would cause the mean-average-center of gravity of the US voting population to move. it is generally third party voters who have convinced themselves that the two party system keeps their favorite candidate out of office. changing to condercet wont chamge the political center of the US. and the political center is way, way, to the right of the average human being on earth. as for WHY we are so far to the right or WHY anyone would vote for Bush Jr a second time, it seems to come down to there being a large contingent of americans who deep down in their souls think an old testament christian theocracy is really the best form of government. there is also something about our geography, our isolation, that seems to make it easy for americans to “other” anyone not american. and then there is some odd mythology that seems to think that the only thing the founding fathers cared about were guns, that violence solves any intractable problem. Its alexanders solution to the Gordian knot problem. the only thing is that some knots are made of people, not rope, and simply hacking at the knot means killing anyone who has a different opinion than you. but if one uses ones god to cast oneself as the righteous, then the only people who could oppose one are sinners worthy of righteous slaying.

  77. @ CV Rick: of all the reasons to NOT support Huntsman, yours are perhaps the most disappointing in this whole thread. The minute you conclude a person is unfit for office because of his or her religious affiliation, you’re making it a religious debate. Al Smith said it best, when he ran against Hoover: that’s un-American.

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