Sunday, November 3, 2013

Could One Angry Wag Of Chris Christie's Finger Derail His Fait Accompli Re-election?

Over the course of the last 24 plus hours many of us who follow education issues have read a great deal about Governor Christie's angry finger-wag in the face of yet another teacher. The story has already gone national, and the timing could not be more perfect.
                                                                  Mad No

You see, our Governor was trying to lay low with his education agenda leading up to the election before elementary school teacher Melissa Tomlinson had the temerity to ask him
why he calls NJ schools "failure factories."

Why was Christie laying low? Because the man can read a poll, and polls say his education policies are wildly unpopular. Here's an entirely unscientific poll, but a good one none the less. 

NJ Spotlight readers were asked what they think of Christie's K-12 education policies. Only 4% said he is "spot on" while 10% say he wants to do "too much too fast" and a staggering 79% say he is "destroying public education."

Yeesh. That's ugly.

Let's look at something a tad more scientific. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll was released last month, and there is no doubt, education issues are Buono's strength and Christie's Achilles' heel.
Few Christie voters are choosing him simply because they oppose Buono, but two-thirds of Buono voters are voting more against Christie than for her. These voters are opposing Christie mostly because they disagree with the governor’s policies generally, his handling of education, schools, and teachers’ unions specifically, and his “bully[ish]” and “arrogant” personality and attitude. (emphasis mine)
There has been a searing dislike of both Christie's arrogance and his education policy for years. This is from a 2011 Rutgers-Eagleton poll.    
In expressing dislikes about Gov. Christie, women are much more bothered than men by his policy decisions. Among women, 51 percent mention policy decisions as reasons for disliking Christie – with educational policy heading the list. Women are far less bothered by his authoritarian style (only 5 percent), and by his authoritarian leadership. Men and women are equally likely to say they dislike his arrogance. (emphasis mine)
The word cloud of reasons people don't like Christie is a graphic reminder of why yesterday's incident resonates for so many New Jersey residents. Hard to say which is more prominent; "teachers", "education" and "bully" are all right up there, aren't they? This word cloud confirms EVERYTHING New Jersey doesn't like about Christie, and he put it ALL out on display yesterday. 

And he waggled it in the face of an elementary school teacher.  

Stay classy Chris, stay classy.

Yet Barbara Buono, a civil, dedicated candidate with policy positions more in keeping with the people of New Jersey, has been unable to get traction because far too many people in this state are blinded to Christie's celebrity.
The problem for Buono is that, unlike Booker, she isn’t a celebrity. Instead she’s running against one. And running against a celebrity may be more difficult today than at any time in recent American history. State and regional newspapers—the institutions that used to police campaigns and ensure some measure of equal time between candidates, while applying a degree of investigative scrutiny to powerful incumbents—are withering. “The Star-Ledger used to have great investigative reporters not that long ago,” Buono says, in the course of lamenting the—hint, hint—“waste, fraud, and abuse in state government.” Meanwhile, the relative demise of these papers has made it all the more important for candidates to speak directly to voters through social media—a medium that provides a huge built-in advantage to a politician who is already a celebrity. (Christie has almost 400,000 Twitter followers. Buono has under 6,000.)
To the extent that local news organizations have been able to survive at all, it’s by relentlessly focusing on Web traffic. And pretty much everything Christie says or does seems to draw clicks. “He farts somewhere, and these guys write 150 articles about it,” David Turner, Buono’s communications director, complains to me. What’s more, the weakness of local media has placed increasing amounts of power in the hands of national media outlets—from late-night shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon to magazines like New York. And guess which of the two candidates for New Jersey governor these outlets find most interesting? (emphasis mine)
This is reflected in the recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll as well:
“For the last several months we have reported that voters disapprove of Christie’s performance in key areas,” said Redlawsk. “The problem for Buono is that she has not convinced them she would do any better."
The question is, has she not convinced them, or has her message just not reached them because she has been eclipsed by Christie's enormous celebrity?

I can't help but hope that perhaps Christie's latest gaffe is such a blatant affront to the hardworking, honest teachers and other employees of this great state, that Christie himself may have finally helped untold numbers of voters finally see Barbara Buono as the more viable candidate.

The sheer arrogance of this man's disregard for a teacher who was advocating for her elementary school students may just "draw the clicks" Buono's campaign has been lacking. Jersey Jazzman reports that his post about the incident received 30K hits in 12 hours. That's not too shabby. 

Bob Braun laid out exactly why he will vote for Barbara Buono.

I am voting for Barbara Buono because she respects those who believe in the life of the mind. Every governor in the past—Republican and Democrat—has supported the efforts of public school teachers to educate our children. But, now, teachers have been bullied, verbally abused, mocked and ridiculed by a man who is a poster boy for how not to behave. Buono sponsored New Jersey’s anti-bullying law—and, now, for all of us, she is the anti-bully.
Cause I gotta tell you–you know what, punk? I’m tired of you, too.
If you too are tired of Governor Christie, let's make this happen. Chris Christie DOES NOT represent the people of New Jersey. Polls show voters disagree with him on almost every major policy issue. The problem is, every time we turn around the cult of Christie's personality is on our TV, or on our radio, or on our computer screen. 

He re-election just starts to feel like a fait accompli.

Do not allow Chris Christie to be re-elected because of his larger than life persona. He does not represent us now and he never has. No one can sit out this election. Share this story with like-minded friends, family and neighbors and GET OUT THE VOTE!



  2. Its unscientific but a good one none the less? Wow! Unscientific polls are by definition not good.

  3. This picture of Christie lurking forward towards a female teacher, belly flopping, with finger wagging, along with his wife cackling in the foreground is the inflection point of change that will sit in the craw of public consciousness.

    It is too late for NJ but not for the rest of the country, to see what this guy is all about.