Millennials 'Absolutely Critical' in Changing Political Status Quo, Says Gov. Jon Huntsman
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A political movement with Democrats, Republicans and independents has been dedicated to change the status quo and insert new politics of problem solving. The movement is known as No Labels and its co-chair Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor, told Latin Post about the need for change, impact of millennial voters and the upcoming "Problem Solver Convention."
According to Huntsman, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore and China, No Labels is a growing national movement that seeks to change the current operating culture in Washington, D.C. -- from the finger pointing and anger to one of problem solving. The nonpartisan organization has four pivotal goals: creating 25 million jobs in the next 10 years, securing Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years, an energy secure America by 2024 and balancing the federal budget by 2030. Huntsman said some people might think that is impossible to create changes but culture is susceptible to change.
"It's just a matter of getting enough people behind it, who are frustrated with the 'do-nothing' Congress and the status quo. Everybody knows that the country can do better than what we're doing but there are no external forces that are contributing ideas and organizing people quite like No Labels," said Huntsman.
Huntsman, who ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said there is an unfortunate habit of not "goal setting." He said it was not too long ago when Congress and the executive branch would set a goal together, even with disagreements, but ultimately get to the goal.
The Problem Solver Convention will be set in Manchester, N.H. on Oct. 12, the same state as the first primary election in February 2016. The convention is not committed to one-single political party. While members of No Labels can be registered Democrats, Republicans or independents, Huntsman noted most are unaffiliated voters, which is the majority in New Hampshire.
"Interestingly enough, and I found this to be the case when I ran for president, it's also very reflective of where the country is in terms of the political breakdown. The fastest growing party in the country right now is 'none of the above,' the unaffiliated vote, which now numbers about 42 percent," said Huntsman. "So what we're walking into in New Hampshire is pretty much a reflection of the country, on a whole."
The Problem Solver Convention is also the location where Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will engage in a bipartisan forum. According to No Labels, all candidates from both parties were invited and many have confirmed their participation, including:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and businessman Donald Trump.
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Webb, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders of neighboring Vermont.
Huntsman said there will be a focus for the candidates to tell not only what they want to do for the country but also how it will get done.
"There lies the big difference," said Huntsman. "Everybody wants to tell you what they're going to do, everybody has their own vision for the country. The reality of all of this -- I've seen it for years and participated as a candidate -- is it's very unusual for a politician to ever to tell you how they're going to get it done, yet that is the most important part of the conversation."
No matter if an issue is on a state or federal level, Huntsman said nothing gets done without building diverse coalitions, selling ideas and working across the political divide.
In regards to the ongoing rhetoric during the presidential campaign trail, such as the anti-immigrant and questionable Latino statements, Huntsman identified that the rhetoric has been targeted for the primary voters. In the case of the Iowa caucus, the caucus-goers represent a small percentage of the overall voters who turnout and "therefore quite unrepresentative of the country as a whole."
"What you see are candidates who are basically tailoring a message for the early primary voters," said Huntsman, adding that the New Hampshire primary plays a further important role in the primary process. "It [New Hampshire] is not a caucus, it's a primary, and everybody runs out and therefore it's more reflective of the American-voting population and therefore it's much more difficult to engage in baseless, senseless rhetoric and pandering because it just doesn't work."
As the primaries continue, Huntsman said the conversation will change, to include how the candidates' plan to bring people on board instead of how to scare them away.
"The only way to win people over is by articulating a vision for this country that is inclusive, that brings people in instead of running them out," added Huntsman.
Engaging with millennial voting, according to Huntsman, is critical. The No Labels co-chair said millennials offer a different approach to problem solving and governance.
"[Millennials] don't have the boundaries and the divides of the last generation, they're more inclusive overall in their attitudes and they believe in pulling together in big, common goals," said Huntsman. "My sense is that millennials are absolutely critical for this whole process, we wouldn't be reaching out at the college level if we didn't believe that. Ultimately, the millennials will be the catalyst for the kind of change that we're talking about here."
As Huntsman said, the Problem Solver Convention will be the location where attendees, including more than 1,000 New Hampshire voters, will hear from the presidential candidates. The former Utah governor said the voters do not want to hear the candidates' sound bites but want to hear how they are going to govern the country into the future.
"It's very rare that we actually have, in fact unprecedented, Republicans and Democrats in the same room, tell me where you're going to see that again on the campaign trail, talking about how they're going to make their vision work," said Huntsman.
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Politics Editor Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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