The Importance Of Consensus
After watching Chris Christie’s CNN hosted town hall Monday night, I’m convinced he’s the man to beat. He’s the newest Republican Presidential candidate to enter the race, and there are many, but he’s distinguished himself quite clearly from all the rest.
Other candidates may agree with him on substance but the difference is not so much in the philosophies but in the approach. Christie doesn’t mince words. He said exactly what many people think about Trump, something no other Presidential hopeful has been willing to do. In that regard, Christie is a breath of fresh air.
And really, isn’t that what we want from our leaders? Don’t we want to know what they are thinking? And hasn’t clarity been lacking for a long time, until Christie. Even Reagan doesn’t matchup. He was pleasant, smooth and poetic but rarely pointed.
You can’t listen to Christie and wonder what he’s thinking. No reading between the lines required.
I don’t think hard core members of either party will vote for him but all those in the middle (the majority), including Independents will take notice.
What became clear from the interaction was his ability to articulate answers to difficult questions that were both truthful and palatable. He didn’t back down from labeling Trump but his statements about Trump weren’t just media tricks to get attention. He also didn’t dodge any other questions. He openly admitted what he thought on the issues. He take a position and then explained how he would approach the issues.
Take abortion for example.
Without being asked, he clearly, without hesitation said he was pro-life. At first that worried me since the pro-life side of the argument has taken on an unreasonable damn-all tribunal approach to anyone who disagrees – very Religious-American but not very democratic.
Notice, I said Religious-American, not Christian-American. There is a difference.
When Christie openly stated he was pro-life, I was worried we would get more of the same but instead, he explained exactly how he thought questions about abortion should be handled and it was quite democratic. Let the issue play out in the States, he suggested, and see where consensus lands. Following that, consider Federal rulings accordingly, if necessary. It’s a bottom up approach rather than creating central government, Pope-like edicts to which everyone must adhere.
That is the definition of democracy! He understands that, unlike the last President.
Before the town hall, there were two things that worried me: his past friendship with Donald Trump and his religion, Catholicism. We can forgive the relationship to Trump. They are both Republicans and as we now know, party affiliation often overrides sensibilities. The fact that he has broken with the usual party-first mentality is a good sign, not to mention a relief.
His Catholicism could be a problem but his town hall responses revealed which kind of Catholic he is. There are actually two.
One kind of Catholic is sensible and separates personal religious devotion from community involvement and governance. This devotee doesn’t take the indulgence approach to evangelism, confess or burn. Faith for them is personal, not something imposed on the public.
The other kind of Catholic considers it their personal duty to impose their faith on the entire culture. It’s a Jesuit mentality:
If I must forego birth control, you must too.
At the moment, the American public is surrounded. It’s been a slow developing insidious effect but it’s very real and a serious problem.
Out of the nine Supreme Court justices, six are Catholic and one was raised Catholic but worships Episcopalian. That’s seven in all. Can an unreasonably committed Catholic really separate their religious philosophies from their state responsibilities?
I don’t think so. I’ve been a fully committed fundamentalist Christian for more than fifty years. In my early days, before maturing to acceptable levels of rational thinking and behavior, I believed Christian ideals should be imposed on everyone. So did my peers. I never used those terms exactly but that was the mindset.
Long story short, Christie doesn’t seem to mirror the Supreme court. He has that rare balance of being fully Christian (in his case of the Catholic version) but able to separate his religious devotions not only in his personal life with the community at large but more importantly in his leadership style as a governing leader.
And best of all, he understands the importance of building consensus even when working with opposing sides. His track record is clear. He represented Red political philosophies in a Blue state for two full terms very effectively.
I like the guy. I’m changing party affiliation just so I can vote in the Republican primaries and he’s got my vote.
One final thought. More than two-third of the Supreme Court Justices were raised Catholic while only 20% of the American public is Catholic. That represents an imbalance that should never be allowed in a Democratic state. Personally, I think the Catholics on the court should recuse themselves.
You can find a few interesting thoughts on the abortion is here.