The Republican Party is still soul-searching. It’s still torn by celebrities such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, and public servants like Senators Tom Coburn and Senator Marco Rubio. The former thrives in talking points that tend to lose elections and the latter set politics aside and make the Republican Party look like a reasonable wing in government.
But it seems like the celebrities are winning. Just look at CPAC.
The most well-known speakers for this year’s CPAC convention are former Governor Sarah Palin, former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and former Senator Rick Santorum. They all share one thing in common: they lost elections. They are losing conservative messengers for many reasons.
One crucial reason is that none of them are not from New Jersey. Also, their last name is not Christie.
The most popular Republican Governor is not invited to CPAC. Al Cardenas, the head of American Conservative Union, defended the decision by criticizing Governor Christie’s support of the Sandy relief bill (worth more than $60 billion, mind you).
Even though Christie has a solid conservative track record. He’s not perfect, but then again, conservatism is not about perfection. Conservatism is not an ideology. Conservatism is a set of prudent beliefs practiced to maintain social order. Christie’s record preserves New Jersey’s social order.
Joe Scarborough defends Christie’s record very well. Scarborough points out that Christie declared war on powerful union bosses, stands with strong pro-life credentials, cut businesses taxes by $2.6 billion, reformed education, cut spending, increased employee contributions for government employees, and raised the retirement age. If that’s not conservative, then I don’t want to know what conservative means.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a role model for today’s Republican Party. He’s snubbed by the conservative Republican wing and for the wrong reasons. The Sandy relief bill was his responsibility as a governor. That’s what governors do and that’s what the federal government is supposed to do as well.
Christie is much more conservative than Romney, Santorum, or Palin. Their records are nowhere near Christie’s. Look at it on an individual cases.
Santorum voted for many liberal bills. He voted to increase the debt limit many times, he voted for No Child Left Behind (a bill crafted by Senator Ted Kennedy), and voted for a close to $15 billion in federal loan guarantees for the airline industry. Most importantly, he voted for Medicare Part D which created $9.4 trillion in unfunded liabilities over a 75 year timespan. These are not conservative principles, and yet Santorum is invited to CPAC.
Should I even explain Romney? This is a man that I voted for, but I knew he had many blind spots. He raised fees to balanced the budget instead of cutting spending, he supported abortion rights, and mandated the people of Massachusetts to own healthcare. That’s just a few of liberal positions. Yet, he’s invited to CPAC.
Then comes Governor Palin. The Alaskan has conservative views, no doubt. In fact, I heard her speak last year at CPAC. She’s a wonderful speaker. The problem is that she’s too polarizing and people, quite frankly, think she’s not the brightest.
All of these individuals are “conservative” because they vehemently oppose President Obama. To them compromise is arrhythmia. For successful conservatives statesmen, compromise is a necessity. They understand that Founding Fathers designed a system of government that can only run with compromise instead of ideological partisanship.
Governor Christie understands government. He understand that in order to be successful, politicians need to work with the other side of the aisle. That’s why he sits at a 74 percent approval rating. Christie doesn’t hate Democrats or Obama, he understands that he needs to sit down with them to promote the interests of New Jersey. That’s what he did in the Sandy Bill.
The question then is, why does Chris Christie make conservatives uncomfortable?
Getting along with the donkey is not a sin. That’s something conservatives need to understand. Sean Hannity doesn’t understand that because he’s an entertainer and not a statesman. Sam goes for Romney, Palin, and Santorum. They’re in no position of government. Christie at least is, and he governs a blue state rather well.
CPAC needs to be open-minded. It needs to stay relevant instead of alienating Republicans that may not always agree with their right-winged platform. We, conservatives, are an important wing in the Republican Party and will stay more relevant by inviting leaders like Christie.
Mr. Cardenas, it’s just too bad that Christie’s not invited. You’re missing out.
Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowicz