I’ve watched the last two Republican debates before the upcoming New Hampshire, and anyone who knows me will probably tell you that I’ve already made my selection for President, Jon Huntsman. His campaign mantra over the last few months has been putting “country first.” A noble line. A great line. But, it hadn’t hit me until this morning — watching Governor Huntsman defend his service as an Ambassador in Obama’s Administration — did it all start to gel. It clicked. I understood, and could actually personally relate to the Governor.
The Governor defended his service by stating that when you serve your country, “it doesn’t matter what political affiliation the President is.” He referenced his two sons, who are no doubt honorably serving their country in the United States Navy. Their father did not tell them, “hey kids, don’t serve under Obama.” Both of my grandfathers fought for this country. One of them in World War II, and the other in Korea. They were never told by their fathers, “hey son, don’t serve your country under President Roosevelt, Truman, or Eisenhower.”
My personal connection to this, as I reflect back on my own public service, stems from my very first appointment to the Orange County Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board in 2006. I’ve been a registered Republican since I was eligible to vote. Two years later, as a community college student interested in serving the public, I was appointed at the time by then-Supervisor Lou Correa. Now a state senator, Lou Correa was a democrat.
Did I go about representing Correa’s own personal, democratic party-based interests? No. However, I did what I was supposed to do and worked with his office. How professional, right? I wanted the Supervisor to know that it was my goal to ensure the County of Orange was implementing effective alcohol and drug prevention policies.
A few months later, I had the honor of being appointed to the City of Santa Ana’s Environmental and Transportation Advisory Commission by Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez — a democrat. A HUGE union/labor-backed democrat. Did this mean I went about doing what she wanted in the democratic party’s best interests? No.
To be honest, I was usually the first commissioner to show up and the last to leave. All of us were paid a stipend and served breakfast (since, it was a morning meeting), and I felt I was the only one who actually earned the stipend. In one memorable meeting, I requested city staff look into repaving an intersection (17th & King Street) that needed a redo. My proudest moment came a week and a half later when I drove by, and noticed that the entire intersection had been repaved.
Was doing my job as an appointed official a conspiracy to help the democrats? Absolutely not. It was to help the County of Orange and the City of Santa Ana at the time. Was Governor Huntsman’s role as Ambassador to China a conspiracy to help Obama’s administration? Absolutely not. It was to help and assist the development of one of the most complicated foreign relations our country has on the world stage.
Governor Huntsman’s service should be applauded. Not vilified. If anything, it would be to Governor Huntsman’s advantage in our Presidential Primary as he witnessed first-hand how screwed up the current administration is on the inside — just as much as I learned how screwed up the City of Santa Ana was on the inside. The Governor knows what’s wrong with this country and hits the nail on the head, every time. Because of that, he’s also the only one I adamantly trust to fix our national deficits.
Public service can teach you quite a bit about the world around you. Policy, position statements, working with those you may disagree with politically, or personally. The learning curve when you serve is exponential, and no one has more credible experience in that role than Governor Huntsman. A 78% re-election percentage is something most politicians could only dream of, yet he was able to get it done — in large part due to his experience and years of public service.
As I fear with many candidates whether they run for national or local office, the general welfare of people at-large is diminished, as are critical services, when politicians play games. This unfortunate era of “scream and shout” politics makes for great YouTube footage on the 11 o’clock news, but – in reality — is damaging the decorum of our political debate, and it needs to stop.
I feel the only way we can bring this country back, or even San Diego — my home these last few years — is to begin elevating the discussion of the issues at hand, instead of acting like crayon-wielding children at the ballot box.
It takes men of courage, and men of honor, to do what Huntsman’s sons and my grandfathers did. They didn’t serve because of their political affiliation, they served because America is a country worth serving. They served because protecting America, and the freedoms we enjoy, is worth a Hell of a lot more than scoring pithy political points. A country of freedoms and ideas that men and women of all political affiliations have fought and died for over the centuries.
Obama is a democrat. We get it. Obama is heavily disliked. We get it. No one wants to work with him. Obviously, we get it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether or not Governor Huntsman served under Obama. He served us, our country, and our interests abroad.
Kudos to Governor Huntsman for serving. He truly is an inspiration. Just as his sons are. Just as my grandfathers are to me.
I’m sure I could have made my point a lot more eloquently, but that’s just my opinion.
– Ryan Trabuco