February 28, 2013

Chris Christie Gets the Cold Shoulder

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Regardless of what the far-right leaders desire, a rescinded invitation to the CPAC and cold shoulder will not stop Chris Christie, his popularity or his new era of the Republican Party.

Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was reported to not have been invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March. CPAC is an annual political conference of conservative activists and politicians, and with a line-up including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul and Sarah Palin, it seems that one of the Republican Party’s brightest stars is missing. Coming at a time when Chris Christie has a 74% approval rating, the absence of an invitation was received as an obvious and intentional snub by conservative leaders, most likely because the governor is not afraid to go against the Republican grain.

Quite simply, many ideological leaders of the Republican Party do not believe Christie is a “real” conservative. After praising Obama‘s handling of Hurricane Sandy to announcing his expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, Chris Christie has given plenty of reasons for far-right Republican leaders to be dissatisfied. This discontent runs deep—according to a CPAC insider’s comments to the National Review, Christie has a “limited future” in the Republican Party. For a man who was the favorite son of CPAC 2012, this is a grim declaration by his party bosses.

Predictably, Chris Christie is wholly unaffected by the lack of invitation, and when questioned about it during a town-hall meeting for his re-election, he dryly retorted, “[The American Conservative Union] doesn’t want to invite me, that is their call. It is their business, and they can decide who they want to come and not come. It’s not like I’m lacking for invitations to speak.”

It seems Chris Christie has the pleasure of enduring constant, bi-partisan criticism from conservatives who believe he’s not actually Republican and liberals who believe he’s not actually moderate. Members of both sides actively attempt to discredit Christie, armed with lists of policies that violate their own faction’s rules. Of course as a Republican governor with 74% approval rating running for re-election in a liberal state, it simply does not matter what die-hard ideologues believe.

Christie is a pragmatic leader who does not dramatically announce plans for nonpartisan endeavors. He just gets things done. He has shown voters, both locally and nationally, that he is an effective, likeable leader who aims to work for the people and not the party.

For Republicans, Christie’s snub reveals the stark division between the “moderate right” and “far-right.” Both sides have uniformly agreed that the Republican Party needs to “rebrand” itself to appeal to a national, diverse voter base. However, it is evident that these factions do not agree to the terms of the rebranding. The moderate right wing, reawakened and under the leadership of Karl Rove, hopes to ideologically compromise and win elections.

The far-right wing, the lively remnants of the Tea Party, seeks to remain principled, even at the cost of electoral victory. It is the far-right wing that is enraged by Christie’s unabashed moderation and the petty attempts to remove him from CPAC have only strengthened his position as an uncompromising compromiser.

Despite changing demographics and prophetic talks of total rule by the Democratic Party, the United States will not become a single-party state. By the sheer nature of a two-party system and an American distaste for one party remaining in charge for too long, the Republican Party’s current weakness does not doom them to irrelevancy.

Christie may have to (apathetically) endure disownment from the far-right, but his pragmatic and flexible right-winged leadership is exactly what the Republican Party needs to quickly recover from the 2012 election. Regardless of what the far-right leaders desire, a rescinded invitation and cold shoulder will not stop Chris Christie, his popularity or his new era of the Republican Party.

Original Author: Kyle Ezzedine