Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Shape of Things to Come?

It's been said  (I'm looking at you, Mike) that there is no material difference between the Demoblicans and the Republicrats, and that they were both pushing the Republic (or Democracy. Whatever) toward the abyss, albeit at fractionally different paces.

It's hard to argue that there's been as much of a clear difference between the parties as one would like, or as would be healthy for a national dialectic out of which a healthy set of workable compromises could emerge. There hasn't. So the calamitous deficits and debts being raked up by the Democrats is harder for the GOP to attack without getting chuckles, given the less-calamitous-but-still horrid free-spending days of their own turn at the tiller...and the till.

Then along comes someone like the new NJ governor, Chris Christie, whose avowed purpose is to trim, or, rather, carve the fat from the bloated budget of New Jersey (and, yes, the irony is not lost on me...unlike Christie's navel. Har-har). Contrary to the most cynical projections of what would happen when he took office, he seems hell-bent on doing just that, going after some of the most ornery and entrenched interest groups in the Garden State like a fiscal weed-whacker. He is not making a lot of friends in the corridors of power...but he appears to be genuinely thick-skinned about it (somebody please stop me!). Here, in the Examiner, and here in the WSJ Christie is presented as someone who has made it his job to speak to the voters as adults, who are called upon to make hard choices for the health of their State. Imagine that!

I can't help but see the hand of the Tea Parties in the electoral victory of someone like this, and in polls like those in the primary race between the centrist Charlie Crist and the Tea Party Anointed and genuinely impressive-seeming  Marco Rubio. Even the stunningly unexpectedly successful new MA Senator Scott Brown --hardly a TP type-- caught some of the energy of a wave which, for the time being at least seems to be surging higher every day. Even the establishment GOP has been forced (albeit not always in an above-board manner) to adopt language which is in line with the TP's insistence on adherence to fiscal restraint, federalist decentralization of small, responsive government, and free-market solutions over Beeg Goverrnment Prrograms (/Boris and Natasha).

And if nothing else the Tea Partiers are practical: they won't be fielding Tea Party candidates where a credible GOP contender walks the proper talk (they remember Ross Perot). More to the point, they don't have to. As their message disseminates to a wider and wider swathe of an increasingly disenchanted electorate, the GOP is going to feel quite acutely the need to align themselves with that zeitgeist. And, contrary to the gleefully histrionic ululations of the Left about how such "Purity Tests" signal the imminent Balkanization and demise of Conservatism in America, this is a good thing. The Tea Partiers are becoming the king-makers, without aspiring to the throne.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the imposing figure of Chris Christie, with sharp humor and considerable momentum, continues to work to clean up the immense mess left behind by decades of Democratic profligacy. And he really doesn't care what stands in the way of doing the job for which he was hired:
As Christie puts it: "It should've been dealt with years ago. It wasn't. ... If people don't like it after four years, they can send me home." 
More like this, please.

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