Chris Christie may very well be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. Honestly, that election is far enough out that I really don’t care for conjecture one way or the other at this point about any of the people in any party who are being hypothesized as the nominee in 2016. I think part of what’s gotten this country off the right track politically is our obsession with campaigning. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a public profile up so that heading into an election people know who you are, but at this point people start campaigning as soon as the newly-elected president is sworn in.
What I will say about Chris Christie is that while he may be the Republican choice, and he’d probably be a better choice for them than either McCain or Romney were, he’s still not going to win the national election. I know that’s what all the talking heads in the media are saying, but let’s be honest here. Christie is a great politician for a state like New Jersey. He’s red state enough for any conservatives in the state to go for him, and he’s got enough of that “Jersey Chutzpah” to charm moderate and left-leaning voters. On a national scale though, his stances on the issues will expose him as every bit of the neocon that he really is, and in another four years our country will be even further down the road on issues like gun control and medical marijuana. If he’s still as die-hard conservative on those issues as he is now, he will not look modern enough.
For starters, Christie just vetoed a ban on .50 caliber rifle rounds in his state. For those that don’t know, rounds that size can bring down airplanes. At one point Governor Christie actually supported the ban on .50 cal rounds. Now that he’s running for president in three years though, he can’t give away the “free dumb isn’t free” vote can he? So he’s got to pivot right already, vetoing a common sense bill that would have banned rounds that have no legitimate hunting or even self-defense rationale behind them. They are military-grade weaponry, and the kind of thing that we have a highly-trained military for.
Next, Christie conditionally vetoed part of a medical marijuana bill that would have removed a requirement for small, chronically and terminally-ill children getting medical cannabis in a form that can be ingested, to have both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician sign-off on the treatment. On the one hand it’s completely understandable to make sure that any medication that children take is safe for their growing bodies. However, Christie is just making himself look out of touch and behind the times. Clearly he missed the major story about a week ago that was so important and groundbreaking CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta decided to endorse medical marijuana in part because of it.
Charlotte is a small girl in Colorado whose parents took a leap of faith after exhausting option after option trying to treat her debilitating seizures. Charlotte’s parents decided to put her on a medical marijuana regimen, and her seizures have gone from literally hundreds a day to about a handful, if that. Clearly there are still mountains of research that need to be done on this substance, but for Christie to even remotely stay tied to the old way of thinking about it shows that he’s not ready to lead a nation where a record-high 50% of us want the drug completely legalized.
You know who else was a centrist governor from an Eastern seaboard state? You know who else had to pivot hard-right in the lead-up to his second presidential campaign run? Mitt Romney. That’s right. Romney was the guy who gave Massachusetts very popular health care reform — the same plan that spawned Obamacare. Romney was by all accounts prior to 2012 your average, moderate Republican. He loved making money and that was his main focus. But when you’re trying to get the people who call Obama a communist and are convinced he’s not really from America’s vote…you have to fire-up the van and drive it into the heart of CrayCray Town.
Here’s the bottom line: If the RNC actually goes through with their boycott of CNN and NBC (they won’t), and if Republicans like Christie are then forced to play a primary season just to the base, 2012’s circus show will look like the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. If Christie is already willing to veto a ban on ludicrously-sized ammunition that he once supported, how much longer is it until he starts talking about self-deportation and “the Takers” just as Romney did? How anti-gay is he going to have to look? How anti-poor and minority? Maybe deep-down both Romney and Christie have much more modern views on life. The problem for them is that as soon as they show that to be the case, they are labeled a RINO and tossed out of the party’s good graces.
This Republican Civil War is just heating up, and even if Christie is their best shot (he is right now) and even if he gets the nomination (he may or may not), the Republican Party clearly isn’t ready to put its best foot forward yet, so it doesn’t matter if Ronald Reagan’s reanimated corpse endorsed him — Christie will still be far, far too on the right for a country already growing more horrified by the right-wing social agenda.