More great diary rescue from the weekend, also by josef. This time, on the impact our bellowing presidential wannabe might have on New Jersey's street cred with the rest of the country. Promoted by Rosi.
A Sunday thought piece appears on NJ.com today titled “What will Christie's 2016 run mean for N.J.?” In it, Matt Friedman wonders aloud how the state will go on after a Tuesday that will see Christie will finally declaring his candidacy for president. He brings up interesting points about how state Republicans have been distancing themselves from an increasingly unpopular governor whose approval rating is currently hovering around 30 percent and how a number of Democrats are lining up to succeed him now that they feel comfortable working against him. But the bigger question of how New Jersey will be represented on the national stage by candidate Christie goes unasked. If the governor keeps to his trademark style, the answer is “not well.”
People from outside of New Jersey who don't interact with the state regularly get their views into our way of life from a handful of places. One is the image built by pop culture legends like Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi. Another is television, where we're either the butt of jokes on sitcoms or portrayed as spray-tanned alcoholics. And over the past few years, a source of information on what's going on in New Jersey has been national news pieces about either Chris Christie's presidential aspirations or the Bridgegate scandal that everyone around him has been sucked up into. While the Bridgegate coverage has been less than flattering about how the state government is being run right now, the negative attributions have gone to either Christie himself or the people around him. But if he engages in a nearly year-long campaign for president, he will become synonymous, if only during the campaign, with New Jersey. And that hurts us all.
If Chris Christie is nothing at all, he is a bully. He publicly berates teachers. He shouts down mayors who still haven't gotten aid from Sandy — a storm he used to propel himself into a second term in office. For most of his time in office, most of the legislature has simply been too afraid of him to challenge his mishandling of the state's finances, be it on the subject of pensions, transportation, or obscene tax breaks.
Given the state's already gruff image, this will only hurt us more. Who's going to think consider moving their business to New Jersey, where even Republicans can't right the sinking ship of the state's economy? What congress will want to give money to a state whose governor canceled one of the most important transit projects in the county, the desperately needed new Amtrak tunnels between North Jersey and New York? Who will think kindly of New Jersey at all after a year of Chris Christie giving every American who watches the presidential race a reason to think badly of us?
This is what I fear for the state after this coming Tuesday. The man who will come to represent New Jersey on the national stage, if only for a little while, will look and act nothing like the millions of decent, honest, kind, and hardworking people who truly keep this state going. And that's a shame.