Monday, November 5, 2012

Political Bipartisanship - Entry #21

A strange turn of events happened last week in the Presidential election.  Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey, a keynote speaker at this past summer’s Republican Convention, and a harsh critic of President Obama—just two weeks earlier he was lambasting the Chief Executive for his lack of leadership abilities—was suddenly extolling his virtues.  The Governor and President were on the phone with each other, sometimes more then once a day.  The President was invited to tour the state.  A real bromance was brewing.  Why?  One word—Sandy.  The so-named hurricane wrecked havoc and destruction up and down the Garden State’s coastline changing, probably forever, the way of life for many state residents.  Pushing partisan politics and rhetoric aside the Governor, rightly so, took the high road in working with the President on securing much needed federal aid and attention to help ease the plight of New Jerseyans.  President Obama, acting more Presidential then like the Democratic nominee, began working with the Governors of the hardest hit states, regardless of their party affiliation.  But it was the praise both Christie and Obama heaped on one another that captured the national spotlight.  The act of bipartisanship was a breath of fresh air during this very long, drawn out, and frequently nasty election campaign.

As a former long-time New Jersey resident, who still has family there, and someone who is a Democrat and union member Christie’s actions were both stunning and commendable.  The Governor rides rough shot over Democrats in the statehouse and he has bullied unions throughout his tenure in office.  However, I had to tip my hat to him for putting the state’s needs first and politics second.  I wanted him to know how I felt so I wrote him a note extolling his actions. 

During press conferences Christie also explained how the New Jersey beaches are a part of the state’s character (as well as a huge economic force) and need to be rebuilt.   I let him know I agreed.  In my correspondence I told him that, as a young boy, my family would often take day trips to the Jersey shore’s Long Beach Island.  As the day drew to a close we would head to the expansive parking lot for a picnic dinner on the back of our Ford station wagon (usually Shake and Bake chicken), before heading to Seaside Heights for an evening of fun and adventure.  Part of the rebuilding efforts along the coast will include discussions on whether construction should even be allowed near the water.  While these are necessary, and quite important, conversations to have, I wanted Republican Governor Chris Christie to know, at this moment in time, both from a political and leadership standpoint, he had my appreciation and respect for all he was doing to shepherd the state through this crisis.

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