Who are you supporting? You will either answer the question with conviction, reservation or uncertainty. In almost every other state, the presidential candidates and policies we support or oppose attract very little attention except maybe in an active political circle. But we live in New Hampshire, where the conversation of politics is as natural as talking about the weather; the only difference is that confusing partly cloudy with partly sunny usually won’t end in a fist fight.
Being a participant of the First-in-the-Nation Primary is fraught with danger, even for someone as seasoned as me.
I take my role as a public figure very seriously. Whether or not people agree with me, there is a trust established between those who read my article, listen to my radio show or invite me to speak in front of their organization. It is my belief that failing to share with you who I am supporting, all while continuing my public commentary, would be a violation of this trust. With that said, I wanted to let you know why I have decided to enthusiastically support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for president and why I am encouraging all those who are still undecided to consider Christie.
The first thing that impressed me about the governor was his approach to governing. Christie governed as a conservative in one of the most fiscally liberal states in the country. Unlike many of the others running for president this cycle, Christie has had to govern with a legislative body that overwhelmingly consisted of representatives from the opposition party. Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Jersey by more than 700,000 votes, yet Christie has governed as a conservative, building consensus with Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
Christie understands in order for shared governance to remain workable, and functioning on behalf of the people, it requires a leader who possesses commonsense, maturity and intellect. Christie also understands effective governing is not for the selfish. He appreciates the fact governing successfully requires a positive partnership with all those who are serious about serving the people, regardless of political ideology. Christie not only sought every day to honor his oath of office, to serve all the people of New Jersey, but also to clearly understand you must be open to involving everyone who is serious about being part of the solution, while at the same time dismissing those who are only interested in either political gain or trying to continue governing with a narrow-mind.
Ronald Reagan understood this as well, and Christie possesses many of those same qualities that made Reagan successful.
No current presidential candidate, of any political affiliation, has had to govern in such an unsympathetic environment as Christie. For those of us who have never served in public office, it is easy to be rigid; one only needs to look at the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., by members of both parties, to understand we have lost our way. In divided government you are not always going to get what you want, but we have too many elected representatives who are unwilling to build consensus or form relationships that would help promote shared values. Christie understands you can compromise on process and procedure, but not on principle, and yet still work effectively to serve your constituents, including those who may not have cast a ballot for you.
A casual look at Christie’s resume shows confident leadership can lead to positive results. As a former U.S. Attorney, receiving notice of his appointment on Sept. 10, 2001, Christie successfully prosecuted terrorists and criminals that were causing devastation throughout the communities Christie was sworn to protect. Christie was also known as an aggressive prosecutor of corruption and unethical practices by those serving in government and the private sector.
As governor, Christie had his hands full trying to reverse the negative effects of years of irresponsible governing. Christie not only made sure that New Jersey did not slip any further into the abyss of inefficiency, but managed to produce positive results for the people of the state. Because of Christie, taxpayers recently experienced $120 billion in total savings through much needed pension and health care benefits reform, and the elimination of 2,200 pages of outdated regulations that were having a negative effect of small-businesses. There has been an increase in positive jobs growth, adding more than 200,000 new jobs since taking office.
Christie fought to hold the 2016 discretionary spending to more than $2 billion below 2008 levels. Some 500,000 New Jersey households saw a direct benefit through Christie’s successful efforts to increase the earned income tax credit, putting real money back into their pockets. Christie also managed to veto 400 negative pieces of legislation, none of which were overturned by the New Jersey legislators. New Jersey saw no new taxes under Christie, and the lowest unemployment rate since 2008 (5.3 percent). The numbers are impressive when you realize the poor shape New Jersey was in prior to Christie. But numbers do not tell the whole story.
Under Christie, New Jersey has become the role model for criminal justice reform and veterans care. Christie’s efforts proved so successful that the New Jersey prison population has been reduced to the point it can now close one prison. However, Christie is not going to just board up the prison to sell it to a private entity. Working with the private and nonprofit sector, he is leading the charge to convert the former prison to a state-of-the-art drug treatment center. Christie believes we need to stop treating drug addiction purely as a criminal matter, and start treating it as a health care issue. He is not only proving to be a leader for New Jersey on this issue, but for the nation.
Christie’s commitment to veterans is extremely impressive. When the federal government shut off funding to the Rutgers University-operated suicide prevention hotline (Vets4Warriors), Christie showed true leadership and stepped up to save the program. Vets4Warriors hotline is now funded thanks to Christie and the people of New Jersey, yet remains accessible to all veterans across the country. Accountability and dedication, those are characteristics of Christie’s leadership style. A style we need leading our country.
Regardless of your party affiliation or political ideology, none of that matters if you cannot govern. Christie proved, much like Ronald Reagan did, that you can govern as a classic conservative without always alienating people of differing opinions. All too often we criticize from “the hip.” Those who have never had to govern claim how “if they were in charge, things would be different,” as if somehow they have a magic wand that others do not possess. Governing is not easy, but some people rise to the occasion. One such person is Gov. Christie.