Saturday, June 25, 2011

In Common With Jon

We have so many similarities that my Independent-loyalties are wavering now that Jon M. Huntsman Jr. has declared to run for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

We’re both Intermountain Westerners.  We both ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles and not just on the back or as a publicity stunt.  I think he has a Heritage and I ride a Cross Bones, both in the softail family.  Driving a Harley gives one a unique perspective.

For years, we’ve both developed a premature skunk streak of white hair down the middle of our heads.  We’re both first born and eldest sons.  We’re both moderate politically, he center-right, me center-left.  We were both Cub Scouts as shown in the photos with this blog and we’re both among the 2 million who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the BSA’s 101-year history.00152_p_10aeuyf6sw0284  It isn’t clear if he is also one of the 180,000 who went on to earn Order of the Arrow.

He dropped out of high school to play in a rock and roll band, while I quit piano lessons at 9 years of age to peruse a little league baseball career.  While she was growing up, his wife spent all of her summers growing up in North Carolina and I live in North Carolina.

He was Governor of Utah, I graduated from college there and went on to be president of my Rotary Club. We share a political and religious heritage but neither of us are particularly religious to use his words.  I suspect he’s less ambivalent.

We both 264802_10150287122937784_68288332783_9344131_3588829_ninherited our father’s name along with a unique spelling, although I was spared the Jr. by the grace of a different middle name.  The Huntsman’s met working at the same Marie Callender’s pie shop in high school where my daughter I were known to hang out when she was growing up.

More than a century ago, our paternal grandfathers both built lives along the Snake River in Eastern Idaho, mine as a rancher in the shadow of the Tetons on the north or Henry’s Fork, his as a school teacher just below the merge with the south fork.  His father was president of Olson Farms near the same time I was recruited while in college by one of the brothers Olson, a former Mayor of Beverly Hills, but I’m sure not to be president.

His great-great grandfather crossed the plains by wagon train.  One of mine helped lead that 560-wagon caravan west shortly after helping the previous 72-wagon vanguard wagon train cross into the Great Basin.  He bleeds red having matriculated at the University of Utah where my daughter graduated, I bleed blue as in intense downstate-rival Brigham Young University that is when I’m not bleeding Duke blue. His father has given millions of dollars to each but there is no similarity there.

I like double quarter pounders and his father invented the clamshell in which they were served.  He has one marriage and seven children, I have one child and several marriages.  He never forgets names and faces, I often have to fake it until I can glean a clue or two.

Of course, my net worth falls far short of his $9 to $15 billion even though he is 12 years my junior but at least I graduated from high school before I went to college, so there!

Seriously, making up my mind is more complicated, especially now that President Obama is finally getting us out of Afghanistan, but Jon Huntsman may be our only hope to rescue America by saving the Republican Party from itself and restoring mutual respect, civility and bipartisanship.  Sadly, it is clear they aren’t ready yet to offer that to a black man or even a bi-racial man.

He comes from the deep tradition of progressive and moderate Republicans such as Teddy Roosevelt and like those especially prevalent from 1936 to 1976 and particularly in the West when we were both growing up.

As an Independent, I fear the Republican Party of today won’t return to its original values and join in bipartisan solutions crucial to this nation until guided there when one of its own is once again President.  But when and if we elect the next Republican President, let’s make sure it is a respectful moderate like Jon M. Huntsman Jr.

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