Over the past few weeks, there were innumerable reports from across the political spectrum that Governor Chris Christie would formally seek the 2012 Republican nomination. On Tuesday night, however, the Garden State governor delivered his widely anticipated, high-profile address on “Real American Exceptionalism” at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. The speech – which had previously fueled speculation that he would announce his candidacy for President of the United States – finally put to rest all the rumors after many months of unequivocal and repeated pronouncements that he would instead concentrate on his job in New Jersey.
While he did not make any formal declarations about entering the race, Christie did however praise President Ronald Reagan for his bold leadership and willingness to compromise with his political rivals during his presidency.
“It is this vision for our country that guided his administration over the course of eight years,” he said. “His commitment to making America stronger, better and more resilient is what allowed him the freedom to challenge conventional wisdom, reach across party lines and dare to put results ahead of political opportunism.”
And like Reagan, Governor Christie stressed the importance of America’s role in the world. He argued, quite pointedly, that if U.S. cannot get its own fiscal house in order, or overcome the political gridlock in Washington, foreign powers would never embrace the democratic institutions that have long brought prosperity to the United States and her democratic allies.
“We pay a price when our political system cannot come together and agree on the difficult but necessary steps to rein in entitlement spending or reform our tax system,” he said.
Furthermore, Christie outlined two important ways to fix America’s longstanding problems: leadership and compromise. In his view, these are the only two ways elected officials can balance the federal budget, reform the pension system, and mitigate the political clout of public sector unions. He argued that in order for lasting changes to take place, as demonstrated in New Jersey, the Chief Executive at every level of government must constantly propose solutions and actively take part in the legislative process.
As expected, he derided President Obama for his inability to address chronic unemployment, runaway entitlement programs, or the nation’s soaring deficit in any meaningful way. The failure of Congress to overcome their partisanship, he added, continues to diminish the influence of the U.S. government at home and abroad. The conspicuous absence of leadership in Washington, which has become increasingly more apparent over the last three years, has contributed significantly to global and domestic economic uncertainty.
The international community, he continued, will only follow in the steps of the United States when they believe that democracy is working in America. Leaders like President Obama, he contends, who care more about their own reelection campaigns than fixing the nation’s problems, are only weakening U.S. national interests. A bold vision -- in the spirit of Ronald Reagan, for example -- is absolutely essential in the years ahead to successfully reform entitlement programs, simplify the tax code, reduce chronic unemployment, and end the tide of uncertainty demoralizing small businesses.
“There is no better way to persuade other societies around the world to become more democratic and more market-oriented,” he said, “than to show that our democracy and markets work better than any other system.”
Christie, who has made education reform a top priority since entering public life, advocated several bold new solutions to revitalize America’s failing public schools. Competition, vouchers and school choice, he believes, are only three of the myriad of solutions that will bring positive changes to the public education system. The interests of children, he insists, must supersede the demands and inclinations of teachers unions and special interests. Only then can American public schools and teachers once again be the envy of the world.
Governor Christie concluded his address with the caveat that the United States should never turn her back on the world. The U.S. economy, in short, depends on foreign trade and commerce to grow and create jobs. Yet, the biggest challenge facing the nation today, he explains, is internal. Without personal sacrifice, especially during this difficult economic climate, Americans will never free themselves from the paternalistic government programs that have stifled individual liberty and bankrupted the nation.
“Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves,” he said. “To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other. We are a better people than that; and we must demand a better nation than that.”