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A Break From the Media Hype of Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul
Anytime there's any sort of infighting within the Republican Party, you can always count on the mainstream media to cover it laboriously. Their reason for doing so is easy to understand. As far as the media is concerned, practically any form of criticism against the Republicans is legitimate and justifiable. But when that criticism comes from within the party's own ranks... Well that's something special.
When a Republican publicly denounces another Republican or the GOP as a whole, their criticism serves as instant validation to Democratic Party mouthpieces, including the media. It lets them squelch the notion that the arguments they make against their political opposition are motivated purely by partisanship. It gives them the opportunity to say, "You see, we were right about them all along. Even their own people agree with us!"
So when Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, said earlier this year that the GOP must "stop being the stupid party," well that was like porn to liberals all over the country. The video clip exploded across all forms of media, and the quote is still routinely used today by opponents of the Republican Party to bash their leaders and policies.
Of course, it didn't matter that Jindal's comments were made specifically in reference to candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, whose bizarre, offensive comments during their U.S. Senate campaigns kept the Republicans from winning two likely seats in the 2012 election. It was a distinction that liberal journalists certainly would have been stumbling all over themselves to clarify, had Jindal been a Democrat talking about the Democratic party.
All that mattered to the media was that they captured on video of a well-respected, successful Republican governor saying to a roomful of people that the Republican Party is the "stupid party." That was the story.
It's not all that surprising then, that the media has recently spent a lot of time highlighting the war of words between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and U.S. Senator Rand Paul - both of whom are likely 2016 presidential candidates. The two men hold opposing viewpoints over the U.S. government's domestic surveillance programs, and they've been airing out that disagreement in recent speeches and interviews.
Despite the rhetoric behind the dispute being relatively mundane, the mainstream media has chosen to present the story as more evidence of a Republican Party in chaos, paralyzed in an ideological battle between its moderate and extreme elements. Of course, it's not at all the healthy internal debate the media categorized the heated, often personalized, presidential primary contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as, back in 2008. Isn't that interesting?
For their part, the conservative media has chosen to make a big story out of the Christie/Paul squabble as well. What they see is an impassioned battle between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party Constitutionalists - the RINOs versus the principled purists, with the fate of the future of the Republican party at stake. A lot of pundits on the right even seem to be taking sides, as if they're contestants forming alliances on Survivor.
Now, maybe I'm the only one who thinks this, but when I look at Chris Christie and Rand Paul, I don't see two worlds colliding with the inevitable result being hopeless division for the GOP. I don't see a party that is narrowing their chances of returning to power in Washington because high-profile, potential candidates don't always see eye to eye. I look at these two guys and I see one hell of a strong presidential ticket in 2016.
Sure, it's silly to speculate about what the political landscape will look like three years from now, and I fully admit that maybe my observation is nothing more than just wishful thinking. But I think a ticket split between people like Christie and Paul would likely be a political winner.
Over the past few years, the libertarian strain of the Republican party has picked up a lot momentum, and it makes sense why. It's a logical public response to a federal government that has grown dangerously out of control in both size and scope. Much to my surprise, it has attracted a lot of younger voters and I see that as a very good thing. The GOP needs the support of such people. I think having someone like a Rand Paul - a well-spoken, passionate individual with libertarian principles - representing the Republican party is a good thing.
At the same time, I think it's crucial to have someone on the presidential ticket who is a confident and capable, off-the-cuff speaker. I'm talking about someone who communicates with the electorate on their level - a plain talker with an expansive appeal and an infectious personality that can win over swing voters. I think it's important to have a results-driven leader with a strong record of governing, and if Chris Christie doesn't meet all of that criteria, I don't know who does.
The candidate with the broader appeal would have to be at the top of the ticket. And though many conservatives will disagree with me, there's no doubt in my mind that that man is Chris Christie. He's the more electable of the two, and before readers begin likening him to the last two Republican presidential candidates who lost their races, I would urge those people to closely review Christie's record in New Jersey. He may sometimes sound like a moderate, but he governs like a bold conservative.
As for Rand Paul, his placement on the ticket couldn't be just for show. His political philosophies would have to be incorporated into the campaign in some way, and promised to be part of the leadership plan for our country. Libertarianism does have some appeal outside of conservative circles, even if it's not broad appeal. And putting forth such principles in a supporting role will strengthen the ticket in the eyes of the growing libertarian base.
Of course, this is all fantasy-football type stuff at this point. But if the media is determined to make as story out of the internal debates going on in the Republican party, I would invite journalists to conceive what might happen if the different factions of the GOP manage to find common ground and build the type of impassioned coalition they did in the 1980's. It seems to me that it could be a real game-changer.