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If there is one thing that media is begging for its a moderate politician who is able to work across the aisle, sponsor legislation and then be able to be a lightning rod for political change. While politicians like that have hardly existed, it sometimes appears that we are further away from that reality given the harsh rightward bent to the Republican Party and even the slight erosion of the so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats that weren’t moderates as much as they were obstructors.
So the definition of moderate has somewhat shifted over the recent years, especially for Republican politicians. It originally meant someone that had a pro-business record intertwined with a strong socially liberal core. Someone who maybe wasn’t adamantly against taxation or unions but maybe someone who believed in privatizing a few public programs.
Now, however, with the rise of the right-wing and the fury that existed within the bloodstream of the Tea Party protests. As the Republican Party eagerly catered to the anti-everything mantra of the movement; so-called Rockefeller Republicans or hell, Republicans who were “severely conservative” but compromised on an issue or two were labeled an extinct species.
Thus the refurbishment of the word “moderate” became to equal any Republican who either wasn’t invited to CPAC, received a primary challenge but more importantly, didn’t say anything controversial or was completely milquetoast. Modern-day moderates included Dick Lugar, Bob Bennett, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, or any other “mainstream conservative” who didn’t openly seduce Ralph Reed, Bob Vander Platts or Dick Armey.
However, the media-inspired quest to find the elusive “moderate” seems to have settled on Chris Christie, the bombastic Governor of New Jersey. Yes, the far-right hates Christie and its evident in various news articles across the web and even in some political polls in which Christie lags behind Marco Rubio and Rand Paul in national surveys.
Meanwhile, the only evidence of Christie’s so-called moderation exists in about four topics.
- He was thankful for President Obama during Hurricane Sandy
- Gun laws
- His alleged friendships with Obama and maybe former President Bill Clinton?
- His endorsements from various “Christiecrats” in the NJ General Assembly
Let’s begin by talking about the first one. Chris Christie was thankful to have the federal government’s help when Hurricane Sandy swept through the state. I live in the state, though with the exception of a felled tree we escaped anything severe, and it was a brand-new experience for any New Jersey resident. We were bombarded with emergency shelter addresses (just in case) and it was a scary situation as we were preparing to go through a hurricane.
Regardless of my views on Christie, he was probably worried about his state considering he IS a resident and seems to embrace everything Jersey (from the shore to Bruce Springsteen). Most New Jersey residents who have family members in North and Central Jersey probably know one that reminds them of Christie.
Nonetheless being worried about your state and grateful for any help in an unprecedented situation in our area hardly qualifies someone as a moderate. Under that logic, we can consider Rick Perry a moderate for wanting President Obama to help his citizens following the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked the town of West, Texas.
Let’s move on to #2 then and talk about the gun laws that have some conservatives up in arms. Christie has yet to sign the first batch of gun legislation bills passed by the New Jersey State Senate and while he has called for more “strict” gun reform bills, nothing has come from that and considering the amount of time left in his first term; time is running out to sign a bill into law. Also, let’s face it; Christie likely won’t get a chance to sign the bill he wants and that means he is almost free to do anything.
Rhetoric doesn’t equate to moderation.
Point #3 is his high-profile “bipartisanship” friendships with Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former President Bill Clinton. Yes the same Booker who is a Wall Street corporatist that supports charter schools and is against teacher pensions mixed with the New Democrat Bill Clinton that stripped back Glass-Steagal bank regulations. Christie being friends with moderates doesn’t make him one.
Also if we want to talk endorsements by the New Jersey Democratic Party, then you have to get to know the current state of the party which is frankly, split and not very good.
Now, let’s talk about Chris Christie’s record as Governor on a few key issues.
Early in the Governor’s term, back when he was seen as more of a “bully” than a “straight shooter”, Christie vetoed a bill that would restore the “millionaire’s tax” in New Jersey. In an excellent article on New Jersey politics, Steve Kornacki went through great lengths to showcase how Chris Christie (along with state Democrats) extracted millions from public employee’s pension plans.
When it comes to jobs? Oh let’s not forget Chris Christie vetoing the Hudson River rail tunnel that was already under construction while citing the need for fiscal responsibility.
But wait a minute, he is pro-business that’s not a surprise but what about his stances on social issues? How about the vetoing of marriage equality citing the institution of marriage? How about the vetoing of equal pay for women? Or the defunding of Planned Parenthood?
Does that sound like a moderate to you or someone that is awfully close to sounding like Scott Walker, who at one point was the Democratic Party’s number one enemy.
Yet this man kind of gets treated like he is some type of moderate when all he is seems to be a politician with national ambitions that says the right thing in public but vetoes what the state needs.
Next time you hear Chris Christie being touted as some sort of moderate, remember this article or any of the ones that are linked into this post.
Suggested Reading: Chris Christie is no moderate – Steve Kornacki