Boston College welcomed Jon Huntsman Jr., one of the most respected political voices in the country, to its campus. The distinguished ambassador was invited to speak as part of the Clough Colloquium Series. Huntsman, serving as ambassador to Singapore from 1992 to 1993 and China from 2009 to 2011, as well as holding the governorship of Utah from 2005 to 2009 brought a refined and informed perspective regarding the present and future challenges facing the United States, at home and abroad.
Gaining recent national exposure resulting from his failed Republican presidential nomination bid, Huntsman had choice words for the current two party political system, especially for his own Republicans. Counting himself as a casualty to the current political divisiveness, Huntsman said his willingness to cross the aisle and his refusal to sign destructive pledges pushed upon him by Grover Norquist were determining factors in this failure.
Speaking for the fabled center of American politics, Huntsman asked, “Don’t we count? Where are the American people representative of the 315 million great citizens? They’re not turning out, they’re not participating.”
Huntsman continued with his satirical recount of this past year’s Republican primary debates, 12 in total.
“Now after we on stage had declared war on at least five countries, it came to me and I’d say the world isn’t like that,” he said. It is honest input such as this, unencumbered from party loyalty, which Huntsman said he believes the American political system today is lacking. People are afraid to think and develop ideas freely, a quality necessary for what many believe allowed the world’s largest democracy to flourish.
Huntsman’s remarks were not limited to the doom and gloom of the current partisan gridlock. Referring to the hope that Americans hold so dear to their collective identity, he said there is a need to look at current matters in a cyclical nature.
In 1979, Huntsman reminded the audience, he was in the same spot that many of the students are today. Looking out at a world rife with upheaval and discontent, it seemed impossible that the regime change in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the scarred national character as a result of Watergate and the Vietnam War, among other things, would allow for U.S. society to continue.
But it did, and it will, Huntsman reminded the audience. The current crises, as awful as they may be, are conquerable. This is a task that Huntsman said he believes is well within the reach of this young generation.
“America is not cosigned to political division,” Huntsman said. The deficits of fiscal matters, trust in the government, and confidence in the elected officials are serious but not permanent. Americans willing to put country, not party first--a now novel concept--are what is needed in today’s political climate.