Samantha Lachman, the author of the Sept. 13 column, “Hunting for the middle,” and I both admire Gov. Jon Huntsman for his diplomatic approach to politics. However, I think her account of his political views is a drastic mischaracterization.
Arguing that Huntsman could run as a Democrat if he just “tweaked some of his reproductive rights views” reflects a major misunderstanding of his political beliefs. As Ross Douthat of The New York Times (among others) has noted, as governor of Utah, Huntsman lowered taxes and simplified the tax code in an effort to attract businesses to the state. The Cato Institute ranked Utah first in tax policy in the U.S. after Huntsman’s reforms. The man is a true conservative, not a pro-life liberal hiding in a Republican’s body.
I also believe that Lachman’s argument reflects a fundamental, albeit common, misunderstanding of the nature of bipartisanship. The two major American parties are frequently at odds because they have fundamentally different worldviews and philosophies.
Politicians who are occasionally willing to reach across the aisle in order to get things done should be applauded for putting country ahead of ideology. But while a true leader may occasionally compromise in a specific situation, he or she never compromises his or her beliefs themselves.
The most famous recent iteration of the Lachman’s argument was then-State Sen. Obama’s argument in 2004 that we aren’t red states of America or blue states of America, but the United States of America.
I hope that the author discovers, as President Obama has, that political polarization is not a phenomenon that can be eliminated simply by calls for “cooperation” and “bipartisanship.”
We should all strive to create a civil and diplomatic political arena. But we should also address the issues on their merits. Calls for bipartisanship are frequently nothing more than cynical political gambits designed to distract from the real issues at hand.
PhD student, Department of Biomedical Engineering