The Speech: Is this who he really is?
“Just as the Roman Catholic is convinced that the Pope is infallible in all matters of religion and morals, so we believe with the same inner conviction that for us he is infallible in all political and other matters that concern the interests of the people. What secret of his mighty influence on his followers? Is it his goodness as a person, his strength of character, or his unique modesty? Is it perhaps his political talent for divining and foreseeing the course that events will take? Or is it his exceptional courage or his extraordinary loyalty to his followers? I believe that, whatever one singles out, one will in the end arrive at the conclusion that it is not only the sum of all these virtues but also something mystical, inexpressible, almost incomprehensible in this unique man, and he who does not feel it will not understand it. For we love this man, because we believe deeply and unalterably that he has been sent to us in order to save the nation. And it is our blessing that this man is that rare combination of penetratingly logical thinker, genuinely profound philosopher, and iron man of action, tenacious to the extreme. How seldom are the gifts of genius united with the will to action! In him they find a perfect union.”
Not quite as explicit, but it’s getting there. The words above were written by a figure in a different administration, a different time, somewhere else. But the excessive tone and sheer over-the-top abundance of it has become familiar in New Jersey.
Take a look at the speech below. Forever more it will be known as The Speech, because it is breathlessly clear from it what this man is all about. Listening to it, Governor Chris Christie’s philosophy of governing becomes apparent.
This isn’t some gotcha moment to embarrass the Governor. This was a speech prepared and promoted by the Governor’s office. It was filmed and placed on Youtube by the Governor’s office. It was blasted out for thousands to applaud, by the Governor’s office.
It begins with a threat. After assuring his audience that he rules in their name and that all that he is doing he is doing for the people, the Governor makes this statement:
“And any who don’t get on board with that, face the real likelihood of seeing the other Chris Christie. Now you know the other guy. The other guy is more than happy to mix it up, and to call out those who decide they want to put themselves ahead of the people who elected us.”
Then the Governor instructs the audience as to what he expects from them:
“You need to be a part of that chorus who says enough. You need to be encouraging the people today on both sides of the aisle, who are acting in a bi-partisan way, by saying ‘Keep it up’. We don’t agree with everything, but we’re proud of the way you’re approaching this.”
What is this bi-partisan way? It is the hegemony of the three families: The corrupt Democrat Party machine of the South and the corrupt Democrat Party machine of the North - married to an authoritarian Republican leader-cult. It is the death of representative democracy in New Jersey.
Obviously it is not enough that the Governor of New Jersey is the most powerful of any of the governors of our fifty United States. Power is addictive and politicians always want more.
The Governor’s words are those of a prosecutor, a pure statement of brute executive branch power. Never mind the separation of powers, the checks and balances, the co-equal branches of government that sets America and representative democracies apart from banana republics.
American democracy is a debate not a “chorus”. The First Amendment ensures that America will never be a “chorus” and let the threats of this Governor or any other executive be damned.
How many court rooms has the Governor been in where there has been a “chorus”? A “chorus” is another name for “group think” and in its most pernicious is no more than a group of dirty politicians making a back room deal. Our representative democracy is strong for exactly the opposite reason. We argue, we debate, and we do it out in the open.
“And any who don’t get on board with that, face the real likelihood of seeing the other Chris Christie.”
Threats and the attempt to intimidate. We understand him well. Others before him have used similar tactics:
“The very first requirement for a mode of struggle with the weapons of naked force is and remains persistence. In other words: only the continuous and steady application of the methods for repressing a doctrine, etc, make it possible for a plan to succeed.”
That is some strange company you are keeping, Governor.
The Governor’s words are important and worthy of careful examination. In following columns we will be examining The Speech further, but for now let’s step away from The Speech and take a look at the Governor’s favorite venue: The set-piece meeting hall and the use of technology to broadcast those set-piece lines and images.
“The power which has always started the greatest religions and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial been the magic power of the spoken word, and that alone.
Particularly the broad masses of people can be moved only by the power of speech. And all great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passion and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses; they are not the lemonade-like outpourings of literary aesthetes and drawing-room heroes.
Only a storm of hot passion can turn the destinies of peoples, and he alone can arouse passion who bears it within himself.”
Think on that. There is still time to embrace democracy.