• A day the government did not stand still

    by Matt “Naj” Najmowicz

    Let us start of this week’s column with an analogy. Hurricane Sandy is to the North East (I live in Rhode Island) as Hurricane Katrina was to the Gulf Coast Region. Hurricane Sandy was and is still absolutely that devastating to my region of the United States, especially to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, leaving hundreds and thousands of people helpless.

    These are one of those moments where in a disaster, of which the total magnitude of destruction is simply too great for a small community to overcome, that the local, state and federal government must provide assistance to its citizens.

    That moment came and was met with resolve and compassion.

    President Barack Obama and Governor Chris Christie almost immediately came together and worked side by side to help the citizens of New Jersey State. The President mobilized FEMA quickly and was able to provide federal tax dollars to help rebuild infrastructure that is vital to getting New Jersey’s citizens back on its feet.

    Governor Christie praised President Obama’s ability to respond in the federal government’s capacities to help his state. Mainly, it was about how quickly the federal government was able to aid state and local government’s ability to respond to the needs of their citizenry.

    If that wasn’t enough, both Governor Christie and President Obama humbly and compassionately walked in the disaster areas to listen to people’s firsthand accounts of devastation and ruin to their homes and their lives. People wanted hope. I dare say both President Obama and Governor Christie embraced that moment with open arms, not as cold calculating politicians, but as flesh and blood human beings with the power to try to ease the suffering of those who virtually lost everything due to extreme weather.

    This was done without trying to scheme a photo opportunity or to try to score cheap political points: we saw government in motion for once.

    A few weeks prior to Hurricane Sandy, Governor Christie gave a speech in the Reagan Library and became a Republican talking head in which he basically said the current Commander in Chief was a weak and ineffective leader. That is an example of playing politics.

    A few days after Hurricane Sandy, as I was watching TV coverage of the storm’s after-effects, I saw two men rise above the chess game of politics and actually do their jobs. Two leaders walked amongst the rubble of property destruction and provided comfort to the weary that just had their lives turned upside down. As a region cried out for justice, government actually reacted in a way that gave me an inkling of hope.

    That hope I felt was that in some way, we as a people who live in media hyperbolic chamber that tries to force a blue or a red pill down our throats lived in a short period of time where there was no pill. All that I saw were two men doing the work they were elected to do.

    In a time of crisis, I didn’t see a Republican or a Democrat play games while people’s lives were at risk. I saw two men in a truly bipartisan moment, on the eve of a national election no less.

    There were a few days where government rose to the occasion. A Republican praised FEMA, and a Democrat provided the money so communities can decide how best to pull themselves out of this disaster.

    I finally saw two leaders I can be proud of. Maybe there’s hope for America after all.

    • I am way more cynical and I saw an opportunity for Christie to show he could talk a lot, walk a lot and have energy to prove he would make a good president despite his weight issues. I liked that it happened but will never know all the reasons. I hope you are right Matt, but I am much older than you so experience tells me not to believe what you see all the time and I am usually an eternal optimist.

      • Kelvin

      • December 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm
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      You can never divorce politics from politicians but this moment was different. Sure, everyone looks at it through the prism of electoral politics but if this storm had happened in 2011, does anyone believe President Obama wouldn’t have been there to tour the area? Does anyone think Christie wouildn’t have been there to meet the President and tour the area? And if Christie was solely focused on electoral politics, he would’ve rebuffed the President’s offer. Christie is the only GOP politician I’ve seen stand up to the extreme elements in his party when he defended the Arab-American Muslim he appointed to be a judge against what he called “crazies” in his party who feared Sharia law. The devastation of Sandy was far worse than most of the public realizes and I think Christie saw that he had a job to do. Sometimes doing the right thing makes for the best politics.

      • Maya North

      • December 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm
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      I remember seeing President Obama cradling a weeping woman against his chest with true tenderness and knew that my vote was going to the right person. When Governor Christie spoke up about the great job Obama had done, he rose in my estimation as someone who could rise above the tea party enforced spewing of hatred. Republicans used to have ethics and hearts and it seems some of them may still be hiding, but by hiding, they aren’t doing their party–or the rest of us–any good. As I said all over the place in Facebook–moderate Republicans, come baaaaaack…

      • Jesse

      • December 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm
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      Right on! I completely agree.

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