By Jennifer Granholm, POLITICO
My dad’s always been my favorite Republican. It pains me to say that he’ll be voting for Mitt Romney. I’ve tried and tried, but there’s no persuading him. He’s one of those moderate, Lugar-esque, gentlemen Republicans, but he’s still a Republican.
But I have a new favorite (still second to Dad, of course): Chris Christie.
Now, anyone who knows me understands that I’m a die-hard Democrat. But I’m also someone who likes getting stuff done. And when Christie — keynote speaker at the Republican convention, staunch supporter of Mitt Romney — puts his people and his state above his party, it makes me … well, proud. When Christie praises the president for working with him in a crisis, it gives me hope that maybe even congressional Republicans might work with President Barack Obama in a second term. Call me Pollyanna, but if partisan, sharp-elbowed Christie can work with the president, maybe all hope is not lost for D.C. Crisis might even bring the staunchest D.C. partisans together to serve a common American purpose.
The key is that a crisis created the unusual partnership. In the emergency operations centers of New Jersey and New York, Democrats and Republicans work side by side with the common purpose of saving their cities and their people. No one even asks about trivial stuff like party affiliation — they have a much more important job to do. People pitch in without any label but “American.” It makes me proud to just type that sentence.
So can we get some more Chris Christies up in here? Can the D.C. Republicans look to the bombastic yet utterly human governor of New Jersey and think: Wow, if bipartisanship and pragmatic leadership works for him, maybe it’ll work in the U.S. Senate, too? There are plenty of crises to rally around: climate change, the fiscal cliff, the long-term deficit, immigration, the creation of middle-class jobs in America. There’s lots of work to do for a nation challenged by external forces — a global economy, a rising China, turmoil in the Middle East. Could the Republicans see the Christie model as one that will serve their purposes, too?
Charlie Crist used to be one of my favorite Republicans, and then he became an independent. I predict he’ll join our party soon. Arlen Specter used to be one of my favorite Republicans, and then he became a Democrat (God rest his soul). Former Michigan Gov. Bill Milliken still is one of my favorite Republicans — and he reminds me most of Dad. Milliken actually endorsed John Kerry in 2004 and, like Christie, was unafraid to reach across the aisle when he wanted to get results.
I know Christie will most likely run for president in 2016 and he will feel the pull of his party to toe the line. I’m guessing my admiration for him may prove to be limited to this shining moment; maybe he’ll prove me wrong. But this moment is worth amplifying and lifting up as an example to pledge-signing, compromise-eschewing, obstructionist Republicans. You Norquistians: You will have a Democratic president to deal with after Tuesday. And the nation will be facing plenty of very big crises. Heck, maybe Obama can convince Christie to barrel into your caucus and knock some sense into you.
Until then, I hope you observe what bipartisan/nonpartisan leadership looks like. You might want to try some on.