Friday, 27 January 2012

I guess sanity is a fickle thing

After years of egging on the racist, anti-women, anti-intellectual, fundamentalist homophobes within the Republican party, the leadership of the GOP are finding out that corralling the nutjobs is an almost impossible task. The days of the moderate Goldwater Republicans are pretty much dead.
With that being said, it is refreshing when a "reality-based" conservative speaks out against the paranoid hubbub. New Jersey Republican  Governor Chris Christie can be considered an old-school Republican.  He's a fiscal conservative, but on some social and environmental issues (not counting abortion and guns) he's fairly moderate.

  • Even though Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sought to reduce carbon emissions (he thought it was an unnecessary tax on energy), the Governor believes climate change is real and humans play a role in it. He states he doesn't argue with the science behind climate change. 
  • Christie refused to get involved in the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy arguing that both parties were using it as a "political football". 
  • He was criticized by conservatives for nominating a Muslim to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Christie responded to the outrage by saying he was "tired of dealing with the crazies". Ha! I love him for that.
  • Christie is against gay marriage, but he supports civil unions. He agues that while his religion may consider homosexuality a sin, he doesn't because: "I think someone is born that way, it's very difficult to say then that's a sin." Amen, brother. About 71% of of Republicans opposed gay marriage and 35% find it "morally acceptable".
  • While he has criticized Obamacare, Christie refused to join other Republican governors in their lawsuit to overturn it. 
I'm not a Christie apologist; I think his economic policies are horrific and wrecking havoc on a state that is suffering immensely. His budget cuts are merciless; yet, like other Republicans, he refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy. In fact, he wants to cut taxes.  However, in the current political climate, when the inmates are running the GOP asylum, I think it's important to give credit to Republican leaders when they aren't afraid to let their humanity shine. Just as his appointment of a Muslim to the Supreme Court was a great move, so was last week's nomination of the first openly gay Black man (doubly offensive to the teabaggers! Huzzah!).

But, just as I was championing his ability to be a decent human being, he has to go and ruin it for me:
"Black lawmakers in New Jersey have sharply criticized Republican Gov. Chris Christie for comparing a ballot referendum on gay marriage to the civil rights movement thusly: 'The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.'" 
 'People were fighting and dying in the streets of the South for a reason,' Oliver said. 'They were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It look legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans.'”
 'The governor’s comment is an insult to those who had no choice but to fight and die in the streets for equal rights,' she added."
Christie's statement is a stunning display of ignorance concerning the civil rights movement and the United States Constitution. Does Christie really believe that in the 1950s, the average Kansan would have voted for school desegregation? Would Mississippians have voted to end the Jim Crow laws? Hell, no. "Separate but equal" would still exist had it not been for the intervention of the judicial and legislative branches of government, with the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

I'm not a constitutional scholar or anything, but isn't it a direct blow to the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (respectively), when the rights of minority groups are left to be determined by the mood of an electorate? Aren't the rights of all citizens already enshrined in the Constitution? Isn't it the government's job to make sure they are enforced, even if that requires the creation of new legislation? Isn't it un-American to let the voters decide the rights of a people via referendum?

Newark Mayor Cory Booker responded to Christie's remarks brilliantly:

“'Frankly, I wouldn’t be where I am today,' if states had voted on equal rights legislation for African Americans during the 1960s, Booker told Lehrer. 'This is not about a choice, it’s about a fundamental right and the 14th Amendment is very clear. It says, ‘equal protections under the law’ and right now in America we have second-class citizenship set-up where certain Americans can have privileges that certain Americans do not enjoy and that is just wrong.'”

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