Many of us are disappointed with the style and substance of Governor Christie’s approach to leading the state. Blogs and social media are buzzing with talk about impeachment or recall. As I’ve written previously, either is a bad idea. Recall is not viable because there is still a lot of support in the state for the governor. Impeachment can only occur if a serious crime is committed. Other tactics are necessary to roll back his draconian agenda, promote alternative solutions, and ensure that there is a viable, well-positioned candidate to replace Christie in the next election.
Part of the problem with the anti-Christie rhetoric is that it is just as simplistic as Christie’s slash-and-burn approach to the budget. The Facebook group NJ Against Chris Christie has quickly grown to over 35,000 subscribers but while much of the discussion is rational, a large portion of the postings there are counterproductive, e.g. “he is a flat out liarer (sic)” and “lets (sic) get this fat f**k out of the way”.
The Governor is successfully counting on the fact that people’s memories are short. It is imperative that we don’t let the voters forget that the easily-digested “cut taxes at all costs” approach was a disaster in California under Proposition 13, and was a disaster in the nation under the Reagan and Bush Jr. policies.
To effectively convince New Jerseyans that Christie’s approach is not in their best interests, we must develop a clear message that includes solutions in addition to carping about cuts and layoffs. While teachers have legitimate gripes and the loudest voice, anti-Christie forces must reach out to other constituencies like senior citizens who may not be concerned with the quality of our public schools. We must reach out to small businesspersons and show them how a deteriorating infrastructure and educational system will adversely impact their long-term success.
Some spending cuts are necessary and we must clearly differentiate which ones are reasonable and which are draconian. We should support those spending cuts that minimize impact on the most vulnerable. And our message should refute the ubiquitous “taxes are always bad” message from the right and promote reasonable progressive increases such as a hike to the gasoline tax and the “millionaire’s tax”.
In addition to espousing reasonable, civil, and sensible rhetoric (like that on bluejersey.com), the anti-Christie movement needs a rallying point. We need a calm, intelligent, and articulate statesman to energize and expand the base, and provide a counterpoint to Christie’s knee-jerk, simplistic, and hardhearted “leadership”. There’s got to be someone out there who fills the bill – how do we get him or her on board and start the process of getting the message out to the citizens of New Jersey?