When Superstorm Sandy battered the East Coast, New Jersey was the state hardest hit by the catastrophe. Out of this disaster, a relative newcomer in national politics, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has enhanced his position as one of America’s most popular politicians. Why has America embraced him?
The answer is simple: Chris Christie is real. He is someone we would like to be our friend, a man to share a beer with, someone
who tells us the truth no matter what.
He tells us it is none of our business where his kids go to school. He says he could give a damn if some are unhappy that he is praising President Obama’s help in his state’s recovery. Politics are not the most important thing now. He is focused on getting his state back to normal.
THE FEDERAL government is helping New Jersey, and he is grateful, and he tells us. Forget big government vs. small government. Chris Christie wants good government.
Working jointly with Democrats is nothing new for Gov. Christie. The New Jersey Senate and House each are 60 percent Democratic. Despite that, New Jersey has enacted new laws putting a cap on property taxes and public workers contributing more to their own retirement plans.
He is real. He is a leader. He is governing.
And that is the crux of people’s admiration of Chris Christie. He is doing his job, unafraid to acknowledge and work with the opposite party, helping his constituents through an unprecedented crisis, and rejecting hyper-partisanship.
He provides a dramatic contrast with many of today’s politicians who won’t even talk to the opposite party. We need men and women leaders who can compromise and get business done.
We want our president to lead, and our legislators to legislate.
We don’t want to hear the Senate majority leader make unsubstantiated charges that former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has paid no income tax in some years. We don’t want a Senate minority leader who believes his most important job is to prevent President Obama’s re-election.
We don’t want a repeat of the 112th Congress that established a new low in productivity. Fewest bills passed. The first-ever downgrade of America’s credit rating. Supercommittee failure resulting in the fiscal cliff. Nearly nonexistent bipartisan compromise.
To some partisans, compromise is akin to surrender. But most Americans believe compromise is the essence of democracy. Voters have become extremely critical of a Congress that cannot compromise and pass legislation. The 112th Congress consistently receives the lowest approval ratings on record.
IF CHRIS CHRISTIE were a member of this Congress, he either would revolt from his party or resign. He would not want to be part of a Congress that prizes ideology above governing.
Ranting at the opposite party and pandering to your base is easy. Effective governing requires compromise and is hard. Too many of today’s politicians have chosen the easy wrong over the hard right.
There should be no doubt Chris Christie is a Republican. Nevertheless, he has demonstrated that he can work with the opposite party. He would rather be an outstanding governor than an ideologue.
And that is Chris Christie’s lesson for all politicians: Stow the politics, compromise, put citizens ahead of party and do your job. Voters will embrace you, and historians will reward you.
The political leaders we elected Nov. 6 can become the political generation that fixed America.
(The writer is a retired U.S. Navy officer. He lives and writes in Savannah.)