Is election chaos giving you a headache? Do yourself a favor and turn off CNN, MSNBC, and all the other cable news channels on which talking heads are squabbling over the “future” of the Republican and Democratic parties. In times like these, the GOP and even the White House are not above bickering while exhibiting short-term amnesia.

Although Barack Obama soundly defeated John McCain for the presidency only a year ago, the GOP is already crowing that their victories in Virginia and New Jersey signal growing disapproval of Obama’s agenda and policies. Meanwhile the White House was trying to downplay the losses as Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said they were due to “very local issues that didn’t involve the president”.

Apparently, the GOP is choosing to ignore exit polls finding that the majority of voters in NJ, despite choosing Chris Christie over Corzine by the largest margin for a Republican in 25 years, maintain a favorable view of Obama.

And the White House is choosing to forget that in a state election not involving the president, they sent the president (and Joe Biden and Bill Clinton) to NJ to stump for unpopular Corzine over five times. Obama went as far as to tell NJ residents to get their “cousin Pookie off the couch” to pick Corzine and that Corzine is “one of the best partners I have in the White House”.

While different sides are celebrating victories for Congress in New York (the Democrats) and for governor in Virginia and New Jersey (the Republicans), for the state residents who went out to cast their vote, the process of selecting new leadership was anything but a cause for celebration.

Voters everywhere are saying their number one concern is the economy. The deciding factor in whom they chose was whom they thought could fix it. New Jersey residents continue to suffer the highest property taxes in the country, some of the highest health care costs, a nearly 10 percent unemployment rate, and face an $8 billion budget shortfall. The cities of Newark, Camden, and others remain plagued by violent crime and low school achievement.

Yet, the campaign team of incumbent governor Jon Corzine decided to hit Christie on frivolous issues such as his weight in cheap ad attacks. A few days before election day, they also paid for robocalls urging to vote for the independent candidate Daggett, in hopes of further sinking Christie.

While Christie was intentionally vague concerning specifics of his agenda, voters were willing to take chances on an unknown rather than bank on another four years of taxing and wasteful spending under Corzine.

Listening to the media, you’d think that Christie vs. Corzine was about Republicans vs. Democrats. It wasn’t, and bickering over party politics is a waste of time.

Clearly, New Jersey voters did not vote on party lines this election, they voted on the issues. Christie promised to close the massive budget deficit and relieve property tax burden, and that was good enough.

Voters everywhere want to know what a gubernatorial candidate is going to do for the next four years to improve their situation in their state. They need a person who is open to criticism, willing to consider a wide range of solutions, and engage them in a more direct and honest manner. A governor needs to correctly identify problems, confront them, and then move forward.

The first step might be to turn off the TV.

‘Pearl Hahn is a policy analyst for the Grassroot Institute. She can be reached at mailto:pearl@grasssrootinstitute.org’

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