What are “The Issues?”
November 7, 2013
Here is a quote from the executive director of the Democratic Governors’ Association on Chris Christie as a potential presidential nominee in 2016.
“What’s worked for [Christie] has been to make sure that nobody talks about the issues, that people just get consumed with his personality-driven late-show entertainment,” O’Comartun said. “People will see past the bluster and the vaudeville routine that is the Chris Christie show. They’ll focus in on the issues.”
I submit that Mr. O’Comartun is wrong in two senses: First, he is wrong in the sense he intends to send in his argument, that voters focus on issues like abortion, immigration, etc., above all else when they decide whom they will vote for. And, second, he is mistaken in thinking that Chris Christie is not, himself, a legitimate issue. What O’Camartun calls Christie’s “personality-driven late-show entertainment” is, for voters, anything but that. What Jersey voters, across the political spectrum, like about Christie is his apparent honesty or his directness. He is perceived as someone who speaks his mind, tells voters what he thinks directly, and lets them decide if they will vote for him or not.
It is difficult for us, me included, to understand why this is appealing but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Christie is not speaking what might be called “bureaucratize” or the language of a “rationalized politics.” And as this is the language that is currently in vogue among our political class, and as that class seems to be presiding over a situation that can only be characterized as pathetic, Christie is perceived as an alternative. And of course it is difficult to convince people these days that we don’t need an alternative politics, that the status quo is worth defending.
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