With the death of beloved-liberal Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey, there’s a gaping opportunity for Republican Governor Chris Christie to not only seize control of his future in New Jersey, but to seize leadership in a political party that is desperate for sanity.
Thus far, Christie seems to battle with Tea Party members as much as far-left Democrats. There’s no doubt in my mind, that the slowly-growing plague in the GOP is the Tea Party. They are a polarizing, fanatic group of people that probably cost Mitt Romney a stay at the White House.
There are 315+ million people in this great country, and although I’m not one of them, a very large majority is religious. The overall sentiment, however, is that in a growing population of the country religion is decreasing in the political arena. What people do for an hour or so on Saturday and Sunday is slowly decreasing in importance to their every day lives.
Though abortion is still (and probably always will be) a hot topic, other issues such as prayer in schools/public places or euthanasia tend to get brushed off on a national level. It’s just not considered as important as taxes, education, war and domestic security. If Washington D.C. were to hold a press conference and Barack Obama and John Boehner were to walk out and tell the country: “We can stop terrorism forever if we remove ‘In God We Trust’ from our currency if you all vote for it,” the result would be a landslide victory.
The Tea Party and other ultra-conservatives, on the other hand, refuse to recognize this and insist that their voices not only be heard, but also be the trumpets of the Republican party. Well, they shot themselves in the feet and then stuck their feet in their mouths. The issues of women’s health and abortion drove a wedge within their own party, and all the Democratic opponents had to do was point to the headlines.
Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana likely got the final push he needed because Richard Mourdock made the mistake of saying rape was God’s wish (Were his words out of context or twisted? Likely- but it was too late). Representative Todd Akin botched an easy win by calling some rape “legitimate”. Akin’s situation got so bad that his own party asked him to step down; he refused and promptly gave up an important senate seat to the Democrats.
What does this have to do with Governor Christie? I’ll tell you.
Senator Romney refused to get involved in all the controversy. Romney, who, by gaining the nomination for the Republican Party, became the leader of the GOP and was nowhere to be found. The GOP has no leadership. It has a handful of influential people who love the spotlight but can’t bring the party together.
Michelle Bachmann, Ricky Rubio, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal…where are they? They’re supposed to be the next wave of Republican talent. They’re supposed to be shoe-ins for the 2016 nomination. But they rise and fall when put under the national spotlight. They focus on wedge issues that only ultra-conservatives want to talk about.
Where’s Governor Christie? He’s working with the democratic President of the United States to reinvigorate the Jersey Shore. He’s working with democrats and republicans alike to expand gun control in the state. He’s friends with the democratic Mayor Cory Booker from Newark.
I’m not saying the guy is a secret liberal, quite the opposite; he has a lot of policies that I do not agree with. What he is, however, and it should scare democrats, is rational (despite his sometimes irrational outbursts). He’s something the GOP hasn’t seen in a long time. He compromises and crosses the aisle. He does what needs to be done for the people of America, not just the people who pay him the most money.
Now, Christie has the opportunity to fill a very loyal, liberal seat in the United States Senate until a special election can be set up. Christie can seize this moment and fill the seat with the presumed winner- friend Mayor Booker. Booker was already the leader for the democratic nomination and it could prove to the state and the nation that Christie is a realist and respects his opponents if he doesn’t always agree with them.
That said, he could appoint a GOP replacement to Lautenberg and give that man or woman a fighting chance to defeat Booker in the general election next June. But defeating a well-received Booker will be difficult in a generally liberal state and there’s more at stake here. If Christie appoints a republican and that person loses the general election, he could have alienated himself from moderate democrats that could look for more of a centrist in the upcoming Presidential election.
By nominating Booker now, and basically handing the democrats their own senate seat, Chris Christie could further endear himself to a growing population of Americans that are sick of the extremist politics occurring across the nation. He could unite the middle of America that is begging for rational, central leadership, particularly from the conservative side.
Especially if former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stays out of the 2016 elections, both parties could be struggling to find a new leader for the White House. Christie could be that person for both sides of the aisle. IF he plays his cards right.