New Jersey has two major spokesmen for politics and reform and how they apply to the Garden State. Many agree with their methods and approaches and many also disagree. There is no doubt that the two men bring the personality of the state to the table each day and shed some of that on two separate shows this past Sunday.
Governor Christie was part of a feature on CBS’s “60 Minutes” focusing on state budgets. Christie did not hold back on embracing his decisions during his first year in office and spoke very openly; not far off his approach at town halls and other gatherings when he is quoted.
The other major New Jersey political figure on TV was Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who was a guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. Booker backed up his stance on his willingness to work with Governor Christie to better the folks of Newark and make the necessary improvements to move the city forward in education and public safety, for instance.
Christie enforced what he has said regarding budget moves and cuts that are involved with attacking a budget out of control. His examples and references were reinterations of what he spoke about for candidates in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and many others this past election cycle. He spoke then and now about the needed changes that feature less spending in order to take a budget and get it closer to being somewhat balanced.
“The federal government doesn’t have the money to paper over it anymore, either, for the states. The day of reckoning has arrived.”
Christie’s opinion reflects his view that the government should not write checks that taxpayers will have to pay later. However, he also phrases and chooses to frame his argument against federal assistance. Federal assistance that could have aided the state on education and transportation during his first year. Nonetheless, he chose to highlight figures and spending that potentially could have cost taxpayers a bit more. It was more or less based on projections that were not guaranteed and higher than figures provided by federal agencies. Additionally, his heated battles with special interests in the state prevented his full attention and care that would have almost certainly given the state assistance. But, that would essentially go against what he stands for; convictions on display Sunday night.
Christie defended one of those decisions: his cancellation of the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Tunnel. He brought up the other story of his first year: his battle with the state teacher’s union. They were examples of the government not having the money to spend at will during today’s economic climate. One would estimate that even if the economy was better, his stance would not be too different.
The two incidents and cases were part of multiple examples that states are dealing with when addressing their budgets. An unfortunate downside of tough economic times are cuts; but it is important that cuts are implemented in areas that do not overwhemingly affect a great deal of the state and affect jobs negatively.
At one point, Christie overly stressed not having the money to fund programs and projects.
Christie’s comments and opinion got some slack from the AFL-CIO when it came to Christie’s personal opinions overtaking the best interests of private and public sector workers. Lay offs in the last year plus have affected both groups; more so in the public sector. The show also stated how politicians only worsened the pension issues in states like New Jersey by not contributing enough.
Christie’s appearance on “60 Minutes” was the latest in a string of public appearances that includes “Meet the Press”, multiple Fox News shows, and ABC’s “This Week”. He has been around the country for candidates and continually offers his governing approach to any and all who will listen. There is no doubt of his popularity as a representative of his party.
Mayor Booker offered a much more open minded approach and congenial atmosphere while speaking with “Meet the Press” host David Gregory on Sunday. He was on CNN last week saying much of the same things: political games at this time are not healthy. For him, there are too many educational, economic, and other important issues to address for partisan games to dictate the conversation. That is why he has been willing to work with the governor on several matters as a way to solve the city’s problems and show that bipartisan relationships can still occur.
As Booker laid out,
“In my city, you’ve got real people who don’t care about politics or process; they’re looking for progress.”
Most might say they want to understand and know more about the process; but if the ends justifies the means; residents will still see progress that they desire
Booker understands that if he does not have a working relationship with Christie, he will not be able to acheive the type of objectives he would like to.
He also made a case for something that this Examiner often sees, but often gets ignored by politicians and partisan pundits:
“There’s enough common ground to stop this silly pull left and right, which is good for ratings but has nothing to do with us leading our country.”
Cue Fox News. Cue MSNBC. Cue other news outlets at times. Partisan arguments are often great for ratings, but poor for politics and progress because it prevents for neutral ground arguments from occurring. Most of the country and a good deal of New Jersey rests in the neutral ground as a whole.
Booker most famously this year worked with Christie and Facebook founder and president Mark Zuckerberg to get assistance for Newark’s public schools. He has also backed Christie’s tool kit in regard to cutting local spending measures.
Booker along with Christie can be seen as rising stars of their respective parties and that might also speak to their political union at times. The two; especially Booker; can be viewed as potential members of a new movement, the No Labels grassroots political group and movement. It has already been attacked by the problem with today’s political discussions: the far left and far right. Not surpringly, they see a moderate, centralist, rational movement as a treat to their yelling and chaotic and often false truths approach to politics.
Booker was joined by another compromising individual: Mark McKinnon, a GOP strategist and co-founder of No Labels
McKinnon might have provided one of the best comments of the show when he said:
“Rush Limbaugh, Frank Rich, they’re all attacking us because they think it’s magical thinking when Cory Booker works with Gov. Christie. They don’t want that because it doesn’t help their ratings.”
There is certainly a need for more voices like Booker and McKinnon overtaking the political conversation and discussion. Maybe then more of the similarities will be highlighted as opposed to all the differences.
Christie’s administration has backed much of the governing style of Booker. He has been called a “realist”. Something that not enough politicians seem to embrace. Often times, if you have an ideology of the far left or far right; you are not going to get a lot of support and assistance. That is why the approach of governing towards the middle is often referenced for actual results.
Christie and Booker have gone about how they wanted to govern a state or city differently; but their partnership speaks of both’s willingness to serve their respective positions as positively as possible for the state. Booker has been more of a realist and compromiser, but Christie for his part has come to the table and worked with Booker. The partnership is also not a major stretch due to the fact that Booker serves as mayor for one of the state’s largest cities and having a good relationship with the governor hopefully will lead to positive progress and reforms.
Booker has taken some examples of previous governor-mayor relationships and been an even better working partner.
The two come from different parties, but have both had their share of critics; some of which disapproving of both men depending on the issue. The two have had to make tough choices for a state and a city. Overall, their decisions will help the state and city representatively and those decisions might come off unpopular in the short-term, but could reap long-term affects for the better.
The two are fairly young men with a lot of politics ahead of them and that might also not be a coincidence that they are such eager partners. They are rising stars among their respective parties and put their oratory skills to use this weekend putting New Jersey and themselves further on the map.
If 2010 is any indication, the two will be meeting many more times in 2011 and they just might do more public appearances to show how a Democrat can work with a Republican.