- Posted February 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Gravitational Pull of Chris Christie
Unfortunately, this behavior enraged many Republicans, who have difficulty tolerating anyone who dares shake hands with the President. The visuals and results of pragmatic cooperation are no match for the emotional animus that many Republicans feel toward Barack Obama, and this dynamic is becoming a self-destructive force for the Grand Old Party.
Chris Christie is a refreshing change in this regard. No one will ever accuse him of being an un-emotional person - he can be caustic and insensitive at times. But his recent high approval ratings are largely due to his ability to defy the political machinery that has molded so many of our leaders into partisan automatons. His intentions are hard to refute: he wants what is best for the people he serves, even if that conflicts with the interests of the party he represents. That orientation may sound simple, but it has become a high bar to clear in our current climate. Pragmatism is typically a political dead end, as one cannot serve the greater good and still pass the many litmus tests that are a condition of political ascent. This leaves us with extremists whose loyalty to their contributors takes precedence over their service to constituents.
Our goal should be to restore the connection between the collective interest of the people and the self-interest of our leaders, a connection that has been severed by special interests and a belief in zero-sum outcomes - the notion that I can’t succeed unless you fail, and vice versa. It is a destructive force that is self-sustaining and poisonous, one that has permeated our culture, our media and our political processes.
The truth is that collective success and shared progress are not only achievable, but far more sustainable than the imbalances that are a product of narrow political patronage. It is encouraging that a basic vision for success is something that the vast majority of people share: we want a country in which broad prosperity is the rule, with a strong educational system, a stable source of energy, a well-protected environment and a financially sound balance sheet. It is not an overnight endeavor, nor is it an exclusive one that relies on small but powerful groups of special interests to raise all boats, particularly if those groups have no real interest in anything other than their own boat.
This is where leadership transcends the special and embraces the collective, and why Chris Christie understood that – when one’s life is turned to rubble in the wake of an unfathomable, uncontrollable force of nature – we really are all in this together. Granted, this was an abnormal occurrence, but consider that Christie’s behavior was under constant attack, raising a legitimate question for all Republicans: If bipartisan cooperation and empathetic public service cannot be achieved under these most devastating of circumstances, then when can it ever be achieved? The answer is that it can’t.
Whether one considers him uniquely courageous or motivated by human nature, Chris Christie has the best chance of becoming our first “post-partisan” Republican – an orientation in which the vision of collective success is fully shared across both parties even if the paths to it diverge. The role of government can and should continue to be at the center of the debate, but common goals should take precedence, and that, in turn, should promote the good faith functioning of government that we all deserve.