Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Won't You Be My President?

My wife has had to put up with my enthusiasm for Chris Christie for a while now: she strongly suspects that he was the reason we bought a house here in New Jersey. I think he is the rare politician who makes his position crystal clear in almost all circumstances, and I think he understands the severity of the financial problems that plague our nation and is prepared to do something about them, even if it is difficult.

I was a bit disappointed when he dismissed the idea of running for President earlier this year, but I respected that he thought he wasn't ready for the job. And at that time, I thought Mitch Daniels would be the best possible Republican candidate. And hey, I'm selfish: I wanted to keep him as my governor, if only to protect me from additional property tax hikes.

Now, of course, there are rumors swirling that Christie is reconsidering his earlier decision. (And it would be a reversal of some very clear statements that he was not running.) On the one hand, this would cut against one of the most appealing aspects of his personality: that you can really believe what he says. On the other hand, I am reminded of a scene in the movie Gladiator:
Emperor Marcus Aurelius (to General Maximus): I want you to become the protector of Rome after I die. I will empower you to one end alone: to give power back to the people of Rome...and end the corruption that has crippled it. Will you accept this great honor that I have offered you?
Maximus: With all my heart, no.
Emperor: Maximus...that is why it must be you.
Now, Chris Christie isn't an action hero. (He doesn't have the physique for it...) But I believe this moment calls for a man who has a sense of duty, a man who doesn't necessarily want the Presidency for reasons of vanity or to wield power, but because he sees a job that must be done and is willing to do it.

I think the financial foundation of this country is crumbling, and I am willing to do what I can to support someone who understands that and will give it his all to fix the problem, especially if that person has a track record of making progress on these types of issues. I'm also looking for a person who can articulate the problem and its solution in a way that might inspire people to support the difficult choices that must be made. Which is why I am so heartened by a speech Christie gave tonight at the Reagan Library, and especially by this quote:
I believe in what this country and its citizens can accomplish if they understand what is being asked of them and how we all will benefit if they meet the challenge.

There is no doubt in my mind that we, as a country and as a people, are up for the challenge. Our democracy is strong; our economy is the world’s largest. Innovation and risk-taking is in our collective DNA. There is no better place for investment. Above all, we have a demonstrated record as a people and a nation of rising up to meet challenges.

Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves. To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other. We are a better people than that; and we must demand a better nation than that.
I don't know if a politician like Chris Christie can become our President. But I hope he takes the daunting step of running, so we can find out. Because the candidates we have now, including our current President, are far more likely to perpetuate our problems than to solve them.

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