An Independent View of NJ’s Christie scandal

Imagine my delight on Saturday morning, when reading the editorial page of the New York Times, I came across a letter by a dear friend and independent activist, Dr. Phyllis Goldberg.  She was the lead letter to the editor under the heading “Christie’s Efforts at Damage Control.”

Here is what Phyllis had to say:

To the Editor:

Re “ ‘Very Sad’ Christie Extends Apology in Bridge Scandal” (front page, Jan. 10):

As an independent, I look at the politically engineered traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J., as a product of the partisan political culture. The email exchanges between a member of Gov. Chris Christie’s staff and his Port Authority appointee speak volumes about the norms and values of this culture, in which political operatives’ overriding obligation is to their own side’s interests.

Ordinary people are not fellow human beings but the property of one or the other party and — when they belong to the other side — merely collateral damage in a continuing war. In this case, even kids on their way to school were dismissed as “the children of Buono voters” (referring to Mr. Christie’s Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Barbara Buono), and therefore acceptable casualties of a vendetta.

Regardless of what Governor Christie knew and when he knew it, whether his tone is one of outrage or embarrassment, or how many scapegoats he finds to take the fall, he and everyone else who participates in and helps to perpetuate this antidemocratic culture — the professional politicians in both parties, along with their armies of surrogates and enablers (including those in academia and the media) — are guilty.

More than 40 percent of Americans now identify themselves as independents. Is it any wonder?

New York, Jan. 10, 2014

When I wrote Phyllis an email thanking her for her letter, she shared with me that the Times has edited her submission, cutting out the last paragraph.  I know you’ll want to read it–indeed it is the punch line of  her letter.

“Gallup recently released the results of a series of polls conducted over the course of 2013 in which 42% of all Americans identify themselves as independents – 46% in the final quarter of the year. Is it any wonder? The good news is that growing numbers of independents around the country are joining forces not to create a new party, but to change the way politics is done. How? By wresting the political process away from the parties and restoring it to the American people. Open primaries, nonpartisan redistricting, voter-initiated referendums – none of these reforms is a panacea, but the parties’ fanatic opposition to them indicates that they matter. Hand-wringing over “traffic-gate” doesn’t. ”

Well said, Phyllis.  Now is not the time for handwringing, but for organizing to move power away from these partisan parties and to the American people.  In our current book club selection, Walter Karp gave us a scathing look at their collusion…more posts on Indispensable Enemies to come this week.

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

4 thoughts on “An Independent View of NJ’s Christie scandal

  1. I could not find the words to express this whole incident. Phyllis put into words my exact feelings on this issue. Thanks for being a voice for us Phyllis.

  2. Actually, the Christie incident shows that the worst aspects of politics sometimes occur when there is a lack of partisanship. The Mayor of Fort Lee is a Democrat, yet Christie (a Republican) still expected the Mayor to endorse him. News reports on Jan. 14 mention that lots of Democratic politicians in New Jersey were protecting Christie. This behavior looks like collusion between the two major parties, which is supposedly what CUIP thinks is good.

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