The two men in the red corner

August 19, 2013

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza thinks the fault lines of the Republican Party can be personified in the towering figures of two men: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul. A bold claim this far out… but party poll data do emphasise how neatly the Party is bifurcated. Here’s Cillizza’s main argument (full article here):

The political reality is that Christie and Paul almost certainly can’t peacefully coexist within the Republican Party — which has lost the popular vote in four of the past five presidential elections and finds itself on the wrong side of the shifting demographics of the country — because they represent such divergent views on the right way to move the party forward.

Paul sees principle at the root of the Republican renaissance, a core set of beliefs grounded in libertarian principles of keeping the government out of people’s lives and fundamentally rethinking the way American military might is used abroad.

Christie is openly dismissive of the “college professors” in the party who would rather win arguments than win elections. He is a political and policy pragmatist who is explicitly positioning himself as the guy best able to break the Republicans’ White House drought.

And this is the polling data:

Fifty-four percent of respondents believe the party needs to be more conservative; 40 percent believe it needs to moderate. On abortion, 26 percent believe the party isn’t conservative enough while 25 percent think it’s too conservative. Ditto gay marriage, with 31 percent describing the GOP’s position as too conservative and 27 percent saying it isn’t conservative enough.


The next president and The Boss

November 14, 2012

No: not a post proposing that Bruce Springsteen’s late involvement in Obama’s campaign was the crucial factor in pushing the President-Elect over the finishing line, but a window into a possible, plausible future; a future where New Jersey governor Chris Christie – he who the more shortsighted in the GOP are keen to blame for stalling Romney’s momentum by praising Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy – becomes the man to haul the Republican Party away from the politics of fear, negativity and protection of privilege to a land of hope, dreams and fairness. Any man who’s willing – keen even – to spell out his political principles in the form of an imagined debate with Bruce has proven his credentials as far as I’m concerned. Here’s the ‘exchange’ in question, taken from an interview with Christie published in The Atlantic earlier this year, with Jeffrey Goldberg asking the questions in the midst of a Springsteen concert:

Christie argues that the only thing separating his philosophy from Springsteen’s is a single word. At concerts, Springsteen has often told his fans: “Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”

“I think I would agree with that statement if he added a word,” Christie told me. “‘Nobody wins unless everybody has the opportunity to win.’ If he said that, I’d be 100 per cent on board.”

But here’s what I told him I imagine Springsteen might ask: “Governor, do you really believe it’s a level playing field? Do you really believe that marginalized people even have access to opportunity?”

“Look,” Christie said to the imaginary Springsteen. “I’m attempting to level the playing field. We just disagree about how to level it. I think we level it by improving an urban education system that is dominated by union interests that are not working for the best interests of kids, but working in the interest of their next contract. You do it by bringing more private-sector business to the state.”


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