A lot of ink is being spent on the story out of New Jersey: President Obama meets with a not-as-batguano-crazy Republican governor as they tour the areas devastated by Super Storm Sandy and talk about rebuilding the Jersey Shore.
But make no mistake: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is not a Reasonable Republican. Being less obviously crazy, and occasionally making statements that irritate his teapartying colleagues, does not mean he is any more fit to govern than any other Republican.
Here is a Reasonable Republican: onetime Republican, then independent, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island who is so Reasonable that he has declared that he will run for re-election as a Democrat.
Lincoln Chafee was a one-term U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, the son of long-time U.S. Senator from Rhode Island (and former governor), John Chafee. He lost to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006 and left the Republican party in 2007 citing irreconcilable differences:
Chafee said he disaffiliated with the party he had helped lead, and his father had led before him, because the national Republican Party has gone too far away from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment.
“It’s not my party any more,” he said.
He said the “starve the beast” strategy that Republicans have used in an attempt to shrink government has undermined social programs that bolster a strong American middle class. He mentioned Pell grants, which help needy students attend college, and Head Start programs, which support the education of low-income children. Instead of supporting those “good social programs,” he said, the party’s approach was “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.”
He is pro-choice and pro-education. And because he is a Reasonable American Politician, he is no longer a Republican, and … surprise! … he is winning elections again in his Democratic state.
Compare and contrast.
Here is “reasonable guy” Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), (from Emily’s List):
1. Chris Christie Is Proudly Anti-Choice
2. Chris Christie Cut Funding to Family Planning Organizations
3. Chris Christie Targeted Poor Families in His Budget
4. Chris Christie Vetoed Equal Pay Legislation
5. Chris Christie Vetoed a Hike in the Minimum Wage
6. Chris Christie Supports the Ryan Budget
He also refers to teachers as “thugs” and thinks that people should vote on other folks’ civil rights, proposing a referendum on marriage equality rather than have it legislated like it is in a dozen other states (he vetoed the legislation passed by the New Jersey legislature).
As a Wisconsin Democrat hoping to see the states we lost in the 2009 teaparty
sewer overflow wave start returning to their Democratic roots, I am anxious that New Jersey Democrats don’t think that Chris Christie is anything other than a traditional Republican … and judge him not on his photo ops (at least the photos were not from an airplane) but on his governing.
In the commercial, Buono directly tells the camera about what she describes as “another New Jersey.” She touts parts of her life story, including working her way through college and being the daughter of a butcher. She also takes aim at Christie’s economic record, saying the state has 400,000 unemployed and high property taxes. Buono has made economic issues a key part of her campaign against Christie.
She is down by 30 points in a state which voted for Barack Obama by a margin of 16% over John McCain in 2008 (602,215 votes) and 18% over Mitt Romney in 2012 (647,533 votes). The state legislature is solidly Democratic and both U.S. Senators are Democrats.
The only Reasonable Republican is one who sees what Lincoln Chafee called the “gradual depravation of the issues the party should be strong on” and turns their back on that party. Or like Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) in her Declaration of Conscience where she decried what she saw her party becoming in the 1950s: “I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny – Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.” This:
I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest”.
I hope they don’t.
We can have Reasonable American Politicians who govern instead of obstruct, who help people instead of destroy their safety nets and their dreams, and who return civility to our political discourse.
All it takes is for the American people to say “NO … we will not uphold any political party that puts itself above national interest”. Our collective NO-saying starts in 2013.
(Crossposted from Views from North Central Blogistan)