(Don’t do this at home.) If you drop a large frog in a pot of boiling water, he will immediately jump out. But if you place a frog in a pot of water at room temperature and then gradually raise the water temperature to a boil, the frog will stay in the pot and eventually die. Like frogs, people tend to react to dramatic changes in their surroundings but may become inured to gradual change.
Chris Christie has learned a lot from his mentor, Karl Rove. One of the ways the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration was able to usurp our rights, to debilitate regulations and inspections of food, energy, and other industries, and to fatten the pockets of their oil and Wall Street cronies was that they did not effect their harmful changes all at once. People did not pay much attention to these many small steps, and consequently there was little effective opposition to them. Rove and company used their wars in the Middle East to divert attention from other important issues. When the Rovians didn’t follow their playbook and proposed a large step like the privatization of Social Security, the resistance was more vocal, universal, and effective.
Now, Chris Christie is doing the same thing. He has declared war not on Iraq, but on teachers and public school children, and those stories dominate the local news. But at the same time, he is slowly dismantling New Jersey piece by piece. He is privatizing our assets in NJN – removing one of the surviving not-for-profit (i.e. outside of corporate influence) news organizations left. He is decimating our libraries. Soon, if he gets his way, he will privatize our parks and recreational facilities – handing them off to entities that are answerable to shareholders, not taxpayers. After that – our transportation infrastructure and who knows what else? All while following the Republican mantra of tax cuts for the wealthy.
Because he is destroying government services slowly, there is not a lot of excitement or concern about his actions, and the opposition is ineffective. But just like after eight years of the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration, we will be looking back at a four (or heaven forbid, eight) year reign of Christie and wondering how the hell we could let these things happen.
In general, Republicans hate government (although they love to partake of government services). So when a dyed-in-the-wool Rovian Republican is at the helm, it is no surprise that the state is being deconstructed bit by bit. Let’s not wait until the pot is boiling to increase the push back on these pernicious policies.