I was jolted out of looking into my heart inspired by Ann Romney’s speech by the quick transition to Governor Chris Christie’s keynote address to the Republican National Convention. In a convention carefully crafted to introduce Mitt Romney to America we saw an immediate contrast in style when Governor Christie took the stage declaring “look at me I’m a New Jersey Republican”. That kind of bravado is pure east coast and I’m not sure we all got the reference out here in the middle part of the country. Yeah, we all get that you’re from a “blue state”, but if it’s rare is it necessarily about you?
Now that he had my attention though, I listened as Governor Christie took his shot at convincing America that he was tough, the product of a tough mother from a tough State. If you’re tough you speak the truth. The themes or the speech were now laid out -- toughness and truth. Now if you’re a tough guy you should have a good “scowl on” -- check. Your should also talk in intimidating tones to show you can back it up -- check. And, you should be clear and unwavering that the truth you represent is the only truth -- check.
As an elected official I also know that you can’t more a city, state or country forward without compromise and bi-partisan leadership. Governor Christie knows that as well and cited accomplishments in New Jersey that were made in that way. He knows that one of his challenges of governing in a “blue state” is to work with leaders of the opposite party. So I was pleased to hear Governor Christie let his tough guard down during the speech and admit to conciliatory politics and shared accomplishments. We need more of that from both parties.
A powerful speaker, Governor Christie can move people with his oratory style to embrace his themes and point of view, but his attitude and demeanor in this speech was too aggressive and overbearing. Ann Romney told us the most important thing she wanted to convey tonight was love -- love of country, love of family and her individual love of her husband. Chris Christie followed with the statement that as a nation “I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved.” No room for love in a tough guys world.
The truth about this speech in my opinion is that Governor Christie means well and is an effective executive for his state. His message to the country though about being tough and telling the truth misses the point that our problems are complex and the truth about them is more nuanced. They deserve our resolve to work together within the framework of our constitution and the government it outlined to find solutions through compromise and commitment. We can’t bully our way to solving our problems. We need to inspire the greatness of our citizens and challenge our leaders to produce results for our nation.
Mayor, City of Fairfield IA