Why I’m Voting for Jon Huntsman
Okay; so I’m not voting for Jon Huntsman.
But earlier today when I saw him on my Alabama Primary Ballot, I REALLY wanted to.
- I’m not a nutjob. Most folks are. No offense or anything, but almost everyone I know is either so far Right Wing or so far Left Wing that I often feel rather lonely standing in the middle. Jon Huntsman is a popular former Republican governor who served as a United States Ambassador to China for a Democratic president. – He served his nation and did his best by reaching across the aisle. He appeals to the countless masses of us who don’t want to witness the endless Donkey vs. Elephant Battles, but actually want to focus on the real, urgent, and obvious economic problems in our nation.
- He had an actual economic plan. I won’t go into great detail here, but by gum he actually had a plan! Right now the only GOP candidate with a comprehensive “plan” of any sorts is Newt Gingrich (and I’d much rather chew on tinfoil and lick toilet seats than have him serve as my president).
- Not only is Huntsman a former GOP governor from the State of Utah that won the 2004 election with 78% of the popular vote (78%!!!), but as a Republican he isn’t afraid to go against the Grand Old Party’s grain and say crazy things like, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” – And boy oh boy do the rest of his GOP friends call him crazy for it.
- Huntsman brands himself as a “genuine, consistent conservative,” which he is, in the wonky George Will / Wall Street Journal class of conservative. But his record as governor of Utah is impressive to both conservatives and liberals, an attribute that would give him a serious advantage in a general election. Huntsman supported gay rights, advocated Obama’s stimulus program, and as mentioned earlier, sincerely much believes in climate change (he instituted cap-and-trade plans in Utah).
- Huntsman claims he brought Utah to fiscal prosperity by running the state like a business, something half of all GOP candidates that have ever run for higher office have boasted. But Huntsman wasn’t lying about it (unlike most of his rivals): during his tenure, Utah was the number one job creator in the country. Most voters probably laugh at that claim, but the uber-skeptical PolitiFact actually verifies it with statistics. Numbers don’t lie.
- On top of claiming it, he is a social conservative, BUT he doesn’t rub it in your face. – I really, really like that. – I’m a social conservative, but I’m not Santorum-Christian-Sharia-Law-Socially-Conservative! I believe marriage is ordained between a man and a woman. As a Christian I believe God said so. Big deal. If the LGBT community want to get hitched in some manner, let them. Treat them equally. Treat them fairly. Respect their rights. I have no problem with that. Do I want to call their civil unions “marriage” per se? No. Honestly, I don’t. But I want them to be treated with the dignity they deserve as my fellow Americans. And Jon Huntsman represents my particular beliefs and non-confrontational approach to these things in the same way I would. And the same goes for abortion. While I’m not for handing out Morning-After pills in the school nurse’s office or anything, I also don’t want to abolish ALL abortions like Rick Santorum does. Rape victims should be able to choose whether or not they want to keep a baby. In my opinion, abortion should be allowed some times.
- And he could have beat Obama. Period. It was possible, but he was never given a chance by the good ol’ GOP because he was a moderate.
I supported Jon Huntsman early on. Heck, I even bought a sweatshirt that said “Huntsman 2012” from CafePress (which is for sale now if you’re interested). He did fairly well in the debates, and I was optimistic for the guy.
After miserable defeats early in the primary season though, Jon Hunstman dropped out of the presidential race on Monday, 16 January, and I was left without a candidate who represented my political thoughts.
What was I to do?
Gingrich, too corrupt, too egotistical, and his name is Newt (I couldn’t vote for a guy named after a species of toads). Ron Paul? Although a complete a crowd pleaser when it comes to bringing troops home and taking care of our own, he’d be happy to let Iran blow Israel off the map and make it the 8th Wonder of the World. – “Look kids! That’s a picture of the crater that was once Israel. It’ll be radioactive for the next 10,000 years, but it was once where Jesus lived.” I don’t want to have to have that lesson with my kids. – And Bachmann? I’ve had granola bars less nutty than that lady.
So after lots of reading (six books worth and countless political fact websites), some prayer, and a change of heart (because I once completely despised the guy), I decided to vote for Mitt Romney. He is, after all, the most moderate of all presidential choices, and I am personally a moderate who believes our nation needs a lot of moderation.
According to Alabama Votes I was supposed to cast my primary ballot at Farmstead Elementary earlier today. I had checked this last week because last year Farmstead Elementary was closed by the Walker County School System due to budget cuts and student density. I thought that perhaps my polling place would be moved, but not according to their website. I was going to be walking into that familiar old school gym, finding a corner on some creaking old bleachers, and filling in the bubbles on my ballot.
So imagine my surprise when I pulled up to Farmstead Elementary to find an empty parking lot and this:
“No big deal,” I thought to myself. “Honest mistake,” said Subconcious Stan. “All websites make mistakes.”
I got back on the road and drove the three thousand feet or so up the road to Farmstead Baptist Church. – It was a real pain to have to go out of my way like that. – And I laughed at the irony that I was about to step into a Baptist Church to vote for a Mormon in the presidential primaries.
Now, at this point, let me go back to a conversation I had with a friend just a few months ago. We were discussing politics (which is not unusual for me; I had the presidents memorized in order by the time I was 6 years old), and the upcoming election season came up.
“I know you’re voting for Romney,” said my friend. “It’s more than obvious why.”
“Oh really?” I asked almost tauntingly. I knew the assumption my friend had already made in their mind. “Why do you say that?”
“Because he’s a Mormon.”
I laughed, then said matter of factly, “No. I’m voting for Jon Huntsman.” At which point we both laughed heartily because Huntsman is an actively practicing Latter-day Saint also.
The fact that Hunstman, whom I loved, and Romney, whom I’ve settled upon, are both Mormons has had little bearing upon my electoral decisions. There’s actually tons of reasons why, but at the end of the day it comes down to this:
Mitt Romney running for president brings unwanted scrutiny and a plethora of false theories about my faith into the limelight.
I’ve heard so many crazy ideas about my own faith, things I’ve never even heard before, that just the other day the Church published a new website just to help set people straight.
Anyone who knows me knows I love talking about my faith, sharing my faith, and testifying of God’s love and great sacrifice in sending His Son to die for our sins. But frankly, I don’t like being called a polygamy practicing cult member almost every time immigration policies comes up. – It’s just not fun.
So as I walked into Farmstead Baptist’s large gym to vote today my ears were acutely attuned and ready to hear certain words. After showing my driver’s license, signing in, and receiving my ballot I walked over to a small folding table to fill in my ballot. There were perhaps 40 or so people in the gym. Maybe 20 were voting, while the rest appeared to just be hanging out, shooting the breeze, and eating cookies from the adjoining church kitchen. I had no sooner sat down and began reading the instructions than the word “Mormon” caught my attention. It came from a man, and as I turned my head to the right to see what man had said the word, I was caught by an elderly lady on my left saying “he’s not a real Christian”.
I confirmed visually the group of men on my right, all middle-aged and wearing work clothes, then jerked my head around to hear the original lady’s friend say, “You’re right Judith. You’re entirely right. Those Mormons are sick people.”
Then from somewhere across the gym I caught another “Mormon” in the air just in time to hear the middle-aged men start talking about Rick Santorum as the only conservative choice.
I gritted my teeth and ran through the options in my mind.
Should I say something?
Would saying something really do any good?
What if I just listened before saying something?
I could tell Judith and her geriatric sister I was one of those sicko Mormons. Yeah! The look on their faces would be priceless! Then the group of men might engage me in a real political conversation.
Would a fist fight ensue though?
I have only two passions in life. Religion and politics (lucky me eh?). And there in the gym they were crossing hairs like never before. I felt my face turning red.
“Focus,” came Subconcious Stan’s voice in my head. “Just fill in the ballot and don’t cause a scene.”
Since Subconcious Stan is usually pretty smart, and I didn’t feel like bringing anymore unwanted attention to my faith, I just started singing songs in my head (“I’ve Got You Babe” to be specific), and I filled in my ballot. It took all of two minutes to fill out since I’d read up on all those who were running.
As I stood up and walked from my folding table to the ballot reading machine in the corner of the gym I caught two more “Mormons” flying through the air and one more “Santorum is a real Christian” remarks before reaching my destination. I lined up my ballot face up and fed it into the machine. I was vote 566 in my precinct.
And then I power walked to the door because I didn’t want to hear anything else about Mitt Romney, Mormons, or “real Christians”.
I was sick to my stomach and sad because the election to that small group of people in the gym was obviously more about religion than about political platform.
When I got home and read the exit polls it was no surprise to see how the good folks of Alabama were voting and how important religion was to them. Even Mitt Romney and most others had predicted his own demise in my home state and Mississippi today, but until I heard the religious ignorance and bigotry for myself in a church gym, I never would have believed that people could make such remarks.
Then again, these are the same people who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim even though he took his oath of office on a Holy Bible.
I wish Jon Huntsman would have still been in the game today. By this point I’m sure he would have been more open about it and said, “Look, I’m a Mormon and a Christian. Get over it.” After all, he had no problem addressing the elephant in the room of Donald Trump earlier in the election. But what does Mitt do? He refers all “Mormon Questions” to “the Church”, keeps wearing his tacky blue jeans, and giving semi-robotic speeches. What did Mitt Romney do to warm up to the Evangelical Christians of the South? He said he likes “cheesy grits”. – Good heavens Mitt! EVEN I DON’T LIKE CHEESY GRITS! – The people in the Bible Belt wanted to hear you talk about their concerns with you, namely your awkwardness, inability to relate to us, and your Mormon faith. Me and everyone else I know down here want a Commander in Chief we can relate to, not a food critic.
In closing, some people in the South didn’t vote for Mitt Romney today because they just don’t think he’ll make a good president. And that’s more than fine by me.
But a lot of people in the South didn’t vote for Mitt Romney today because he is a Mormon. And that’s just plain bigotry.
Jon Huntsman, wherever you are tonight, I miss you buddy.
Mitt Romney, wherever you are tonight, I really hope you pull this together, or Santorum is going to tear you apart before Obama even has to try.
And as for Judith and her like-minded friends in the gym today, I sincerely hope you voted for your candidates today due to real political concerns, and not just because you are afraid of the Mormon. If not, then this nation is a lot worse off than I even thought…