Sunday, January 28, 2018

Chris Who? New Jersey Turns Left

Chris Christie said that we would miss him once he's gone, but I just took that as the final ramblings of someone who, like the president, can't stand to be out of the public's eye for even a second and can't stand the thought that someone else might get credit for...anything.

Phil Murphy has now been governor of New Jersey for about two weeks. It's as thought there never was a Chris Christie.

Gone are the self-centered press conferences and town hall meetings that bashed public workers and unions and painted anyone who disagreed with Christie as a cretin or as intellectually-challenged.

Gone is the utterly and completely inappropriate language and disrespect that fouled public discourse and actually made it acceptable to question the motives and incomes of our dedicated public servants.

Gone is the ambition to be president, which ruined Christie's entire second term and stalled any progress New Jersey might have made in areas where we desperately needed government help, such as in transportation, infrastructure and public services.

Gone, and forgotten, is Chris Christie.

Almost immediately, Governor Phil Murphy has set a different tone. He's positive, energetic, full of smiles and positive words. He's serving as a representative of all the people and has yet to paint his opponents as anything other than people who simply disagree with him There's no moral ardor or contrived anger. There are no enemies.

There's simply...a governor trying to do his job.

Of course, over the past 10 days, Murphy has taken decidedly more progressive and liberal stands on the issues. He's for the legalization of marijuana and already there are towns lining up against him. He's reversed Christie's easing of gun laws and is supporting efforts to stop immigration officials from arresting people who are fleeing persecution, and is joining with Governors Cuomo and Molloy to fight against the federal tax cut which will do great damage to the state's economy. He has also signaled his support for public school teachers and aid to districts that saw their funding drastically cut during the Christie years.

It doesn't mean that all of these proposals will bear fruit. New Jersey is a costly place in which to live and conduct business and it will be difficult to raise revenue for new programs. But there is a sense of the possible in the state that suffered under a lagging economy and a governor who didn't seem interested in running the government until he lost badly in 2016.

The Democrats now control all of the levels of state government. My hope is that Governor Murphy will be able to use his optimistic, forward-looking personality to lead the state and address its most pressing problems. He's off to a good start.

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