Most readers to Beyond The Political Spectrum know that I am critical of both political parties for different reasons. I find the Democrats to be too incompetent, and in many ways enabling when it comes to crafting policies are which meant to help those who need it the most…and too liberal when it comes to social policies. Republicans I find to be too self-righteous, too ideologically-rigid and in denial about their ideological double-standards (that’s not to say that Democrats don’t have their own double-standards).
However, I must say that I have gained a newfound respect for Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie. In the past few days since the destruction wrought on his state as well as other neighboring states in the Northeast, he along with Independent New York mayor Michael Bloomberg put aside political partisanship (Bloomberg to a lesser degree) to address the effects of “superstorm” Sandy on their respective communities.
My respect for them is not based on Christie’s complementing President Obama for his administration’s take-charge approach in securing federal assistance for those residents most affected by the storm. Neither is my newfound respect for Mayor Bloomberg based on his endorsement of President Obama this week for president in next week’s elections. No, my respect of them comes from their pushing aside their ideological beliefs and any animus they might hold toward their ideological foils and engage in political pragmatism rather than political partisanship. Christie has been seen multiple times with Obama since the storm ravaged many areas of his state, coordinating the efforts of recovery…a mere 2 months after giving a keynote speech at the 2012 Republican Convention blasting Obama's policies (See: "Transcript of Chris Christie's speech at the Republican National Convention"). Bloomberg, for his part gave Obama (a lukewarm) endorsement on the strength of the issue of climate change/global warming, and how the phenomenon can adversely affect weather patterns, resulting in the damage we saw this week in the Northeast (See: "New York Mayor Bloomberg endorses Obama"). It truly is a nice change-of-pace to see that there are some in the nation’s political quarters who can not only look, but see beyond partisanship and ideological allegiances to create opportunities for the American people rather than their political parties. But all is not joy in political Mudville.
The haters have come out to play. The extreme right-wing of the Republican Party has begun slamming both Christie and Bloomberg for their embracing of independent thinking and daring to challenge sacred conservative orthodoxy. Christie has been panned for daring to break ranks and actually cooperating with Obama, even for the sake of securing federal assistance in helping the people of his own state. Perennial microphone meathead Rush Limbaugh has called for listeners on his inexplicably popular radio show “Don’t listen to Governor Christie. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” adding that Christie is “fat and a fool.” Conservative writer Matt Lewis has gone so far as to call Christie “a prop for Obama’s re-election” (See: “Conservatives Bash Christie For Cooperating With Obama Post-Sandy”). Such a practice of intolerance for independent thinking and/or actions among Republicans (and Democrats) is indicative of why our country’s political landscape has become more polarized in recent years that at any time since the Civil War. In extreme cases, extreme right-wing Republicans reserve the moniker of “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) for those who they have a particular disdain for when it comes to adherence and promotion of conservative mantra; Democrats have “DINOs.”
This criticism reflects a major cause of government gridlock we have been witnessing and experiencing in Washington over the last 10 years; individuals putting political party allegiance over initiating effective policy benefitting the American people—and yes, Democrats are guilty of this too. When I think of examples of such political intransigence and intolerance for dissent—even in the interest of the people who elect them—all I can think of are those episodes of “Star Trek” featuring the alien species known as The Borg. Similar to bees, he Borg conquer and take over other species and force them into their collective “hive mind," where they are forced to share thoughts, ideas, and feelings (or lack thereof). The Borg preface every act of assimilation of other species into their collective by prefacing every conquest with the ominous phrase, “We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”