Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 | 2 a.m.
The Republicans are coming! The Republicans are coming!
In 1861, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” which established Revere as a folk hero for his role in the Revolutionary War. He rode on horseback from Boston to warn the people of Massachusetts that the British were coming. With two lanterns hung in the Old North Church of Boston, he gave the people of Charlestown advance notice that the British army was advancing by sea as opposed to the land route to the south.
In 1775, that ride, and an earlier one by Revere that may have saved the lives of John Hancock and Samuel Adams — a good thing considering the role they played in the founding of this great country — was a bold and risky effort to establish a free country and pave the way for the world’s greatest and most enduring democracy.
I recount the role that Bostonians played in the birth of the United States in order to give some context to what I believe is another valiant effort to advance the cause of our maturing democracy.
This past week, the Boston Globe newspaper, which circulates heavily in southern New Hampshire, endorsed former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman for the Republican nomination for president. It is not so much the endorsement of Huntsman that is significant and helpful to our democracy but, rather, the reasons the newspaper gave for its action.
The headline of the endorsement was a mouthful of good sense: “For vision and national unity, Huntsman for GOP nominee.” That was a recognition of what everyone in this country already knows to our great national shame. We are a country so polarized by our ideologies or whatever drives us these days that we jeopardize our own ability as a country to come together. Even on the most critical matters of state.
The opinion started this way: “Dissatisfaction with the economy, expressed in spasms of anger toward Wall Street and Washington; the dashed hopes of many who believed that Barack Obama’s election would create a new spirit of unity; and genuine uncertainty about Democratic health care reform — all of these have created a historic opportunity for the Republican Party.”
I would say, among other reasons for voter frustration, the Globe hit the nail on the head.
It continued, “Just three years removed from a Republican administration that was roundly judged a failure, the party has a chance to renew itself — to blaze a path to bipartisan action on the budget, to introduce market-based solutions to health costs, and to construct a post-Iraq War network of alliances to promote global economic strength, knowing that true security comes from both peace and prosperity.”
Hard to argue there. Those words could have been written by any newspaper in Nevada to a resounding chorus of amens!
It went on. “So far, Republican presidential contenders have shown little awareness of this opportunity. ... Rather than compare creative policy solutions, the candidates have vied for meaningless titles like ‘true conservative.’ Rather than outline a vision for a safer world, they’ve signaled a return to Bush-era posturing and disdain for allies who don’t blindly serve American interests.
“And yet the chance for renewal remains. ... Whoever gets the Republican nomination could easily become president. Among the candidates, only two stand out as truly presidential: Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Both have track records of success, and both, through their policies and demeanors, have shown the breadth of spirit to lead the nation.”
Here is where the Globe sees the difference.
“But while Romney proceeds cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination, Huntsman has been bold. Rather than merely sketch out policies, he articulates goals and ideals. The priorities he would set for the country, from leading the world in renewable energy to retooling education and immigration policies to help American high-tech industries, are far-sighted. He has stood up far more forcefully than Romney against those in his party who reject evolution and the science behind global warming.
“With a strong record as governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, arguably the most important overseas diplomatic post, Huntsman’s credentials match those of anyone in the field. He would be the best candidate to seize this moment in GOP history, and the best-prepared to be president.”
What should come through loud and clear, regardless of which candidate you may personally prefer, are the qualities of leadership that are conveyed through words like bold, prepared and far-sighted. When is the last time you associated those words with any political race?
How about Huntsman’s risky positions that place him on the side of science in a Republican nominating process that rewards ignorance of the facts and constantly demands fealty to belief systems that may be fine for the few but are destined to fail the needs of the many?
For many years, way back in the middle to late 1900s, Americans voted for candidates who expressed bold visions, told the truth and were willing to lead in directions that the status quo resisted.
Even further back, say in 1775, soon-to-be Americans survived because the colonists acted boldly, decisively and at great personal risk to themselves, their careers and their lives. The United States of America was born from those actions.
What the Boston Globe has merely pointed out in its endorsement of Gov. Huntsman is the fact that this country is in desperate need of leaders who dare to be bold, dare to speak the truth in the face of those who don’t want to hear it and dare to risk defeat in the cause of success for our great country.
Can’t we all, for just a moment, agree with that?