As I sat in the audience at last week’s lecture by Gov. Chris Christie and visiting Gov. Mitch Daniels, I could not help but wonder: Where were the political malcontents that have been so outspoken in their displeasure with our leader?
Since being elected in 2009, Christie has used his position’s line item veto to slash the state’s budget in the areas of public education and teachers’ benefits and pensions, just to name a few examples. Those students who received Tuition Aid Grants based on academic merit may have received less aid than their monetary value because of such budget cuts. It would therefore be understandable for some in the audience to be distressed because of some of Christie’s reforms, but this was not the case.
In fact, most of the audience actually seemed to favor Christie, even giving the governor a standing ovation after a particularly hard comment explaining his stance on working with the New Jersey Education Association teachers’ unions for education reform. Christie suggested unions would remain “outside my office and look in the window” if they would not meet him in the middle over certain issues.
The only time the audience seemed not to be completely pleased with Christie was when he reiterated his intent not to run for president in 2012.
I thought this reaction was unwarranted, as I had never seriously considered Christie a strong presidential candidate. I must say he doesn’t quite fit America’s aesthetic expectations but I believe he does, however, embody the American spirit. Christie is, if nothing else, a straightforward, tough-talking New York/New Jersey effigy that has captured the national spotlight before. The problems that have plagued New Jersey for years (such as deficit spending and corruption) are problems comparable to those our nation faces as a whole today and some of Christie’s policies could help put us back on the track to success.
I am not recommending that the modern Republican platform start viciously cutting education spending by any means. I’m just saying, Christie has produced results in the little time he has been in office and people admire him for it.
The last “Public Mind” poll conducted by Farleigh Dickinson asked Republican voters for their nomination for their party’s candidate in 2012. Ten percent said they would nominate Chris Christie with only Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney garnering more nods. According to the same poll, Christie jumps ahead of Obama 43-40 percent, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent, in the race to acquire Independent voters.
It is safe to say that people recognize Christie on the national stage and respect what he has done with our great state in trying to make it that much greater. According to Christie, American voters are searching for a politician “of stature and credibility to look Americans in the eye,” and he tells it like it is. In a soft Republican field for the candidacy nod, Christie’s up-front speech may be what Americans crave more than Rick Perry’s picturesque features. Certainly Americans have taken a cynical perspective regarding the state of our economy, and Christie’s platform of doubt and ambiguity would starkly contrast Obama’s “hope” campaigns if Christie chose to run in 2012.
– Benjamin Smith
Class of 2013