Obama added the word ‘bipartisan’ to Washington’s short list of favorite words in 2008 when he convinced America that more cooperation was the answer to our problems.
Republicans promptly made it impossible for compromise to take place, then went on to use Obama’s words against him. Unless the president conceded in every possible way, he wasn’t compromising.
So when the Republicans went looking for a candidate who could get things done, it’s no surprise they chose someone who was good at making his points loud and clear, rather than a successful moderate. And no Republican is quite as loud as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Perhaps inspired by liberals’ hopes for a tougher Obama or by the success of Republicans in the Senate, many conservatives have become convinced that playing rough and telling people to “Get the hell off the beach” is the best way to go.
I’m just glad a major political party has finally come to embrace gaffe-prone as a positive trait.
And while Christie’s tough talk has won him a few battles in a traditionally liberal state, it hasn’t exactly earned him broad based support. For example, Christie wasn’t able to sell Democrats on attacking teachers’ unions. He had even more trouble convincing the students who walked out of school to protest his budget back in 2010.
Meanwhile, one state to the north, Andrew Cuomo passed a budget full of spending and tax cuts and walked away with much higher approval ratings. He made his cuts without putting ideology first and somehow managed to get a number of Republican votes for same-sex marriage.
And once upon a time in Massachusetts, a Republican governor used the same strategy to pass a revolutionary new healthcare bill and win approval from one of the bluest states in the nation.
That governor now faces an endless string of primary candidates recruited specifically to beat him. Christie is the latest of these candidates, and he certainly won’t be the last, because the recruiters are looking for someone who doesn’t exist.
It turns out people like moderate executives with equally moderate legislative branches who can collectively get things done. They don’t like partisan gridlock or single party domination.
Republicans seem to equate any legislation passed under Republicans to the people’s will or actual compromise, or at least they try to sell it that way. They don’t consider any bills passed by President Obama to involve fair compromise, even if members of both parties work together to produce them.
Christie has been recruited as both a dynamic, partisan go-getter and as a skilled compromiser who can unite Washington under his agenda. That won’t work. If either party wants to end the divide in government, they don’t need one outspoken ideologue in the White House. What they need is 535 of the opposite in Congress.