Abigael Evans is my new very favorite person on Earth. In a 22-second video clip (that went viral overnight), Abbey’s mother captured what most of us are all feeling: I’m so sick and tired of this presidential election, I could cry!
Well, Abbey finally did.
“I’m tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney,” she whimpers.
(Bronco Bama. Priceless.)
“That’s why you’re crying?” asks her mother, and Abbey nods as a huge tear slides down her sweet, chubby cheek. Her mother attempts to console her: “The election will be over soon, OK?”
“OK,” Abbey chokes through her sniffles, tiny chin trembling.
Hey, Abbey’s mom — Promise? Because I was about ready to grab a hankie, curl into a fetal position and cry until it’s over too. That is, until I found my new second most favorite person on Earth: Chris Christie.
Nope, that wasn’t a typo. That gruff, gargantuan governor of New Jersey, head shill for the Romney campaign, spewing vitriol about Barack Obama at every opportunity — my new hero. After Hurricane Sandy chewed through his state, the clouds in Christie’s soul apparently parted, allowing bright rays of integrity to come shining through. There he was, at Obama’s side, surveying the damage and comforting people, and heaping praise upon him for leaping to New Jersey’s aid.
That silence you’re hearing isn’t the calm after the storm — it’s the collective hush of thousands of Republican jaws dropping open. What Christie did — openly support a Democratic president just days before a presidential race? Sacrilege! And that sound you’re hearing now? That’s the subsequent snap, crackle and pop of tiny little Republican minds being blown every time news clips of the new BFFs air. And maybe Democrat minds, too. No one saw that one coming. A politician chosing country and community over politics? Personal integrity over personal gain? Holy wowsers! My mind popped a little, too! I figured I’d see the White Buffalo grazing on my front lawn before I’d see a hint of integrity in a politician.
You know what? I’d vote for Christie. Right now. And I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life. But I’ll be first in line for his campaign buttons, singing “Gimme Some Truth” all the way.
Maybe Sandy wasn’t just a hurricane. Maybe she was the winds of change sweeping into our country. Maybe it took a disaster of this proportion to finally get our attention and remind us that we’re all in this together. Just as Sandy reconfigured New Jersey’s shoreline, I’m hoping Christie’s newfound integrity will trigger a similar reshuffling of our country’s political topography. Lead the way, good man! Chart the course that others may follow!
Besides seeing his state put through a blender, I also suspect that Christie was inspired by Obama himself. Here Christie’s spent months verbally assaulting Obama for no other reason than to help propel the Republican party’s corporate puppet into the Oval Office, and now he’s having to come to that same man for help. And did Obama casually examine my fingernails and say, “Ask Mittens for help. A couple mill is pocket change for him,” as most of us probably would have? Nope. He dropped everything, particularly his resentment, and rushed to Christie’s side, postponing his campaign at the most crucial time imaginable, with only days to go before the election.
Sometimes actions don’t just speak louder than words, sometimes they yell. Christie heard Obama’s actions loud and clear. Maybe he did an on-the-spot moral inventory. Maybe seeing, for the first time in his political life, integrity in action, Christie thought, “Hmmm… If he can do this, maybe… I?” And, without pondering any further, Christie and Obama put their bitter political history aside and got to work. The photos of them together are the embodiment of Hope (Obama) and Change (Christie). Those who, like Abbey, are emotionally exhausted by the soul-sucking circus of our political system, leapt for joy. The Right Wing noise machine? Seeing Mr. Hope and Mr. Change working together was like pouring salt onto the gaping wound where their hard, tiny hearts used to be. Ouch! The cooperation! It stings!
While Obama focused on helping New Jersey back to its feet, Mr. Etch-A-Sketch (who formerly proposed cutting FEMA funding, but now supports it because cutting funding for the very program people need to recover from a natural disaster would be a political party foul) was back on the campaign trail the very next morning while the East Coast was still blinking in the light of dawn, trying to grasp the magnitude of Sandy’s wrath.
As Obama held weeping people in his arms, offering assistance, compassion and support, Mitt Romney’s camp was orchestrating a food drive in Ohio. Seriously. Orchestrating. They purchased piles of food so people could grab something on the way in to hand to Romney, so he could thank them profusely for pulling together — while the cameras were rolling, of course. Romney borrowed this campaign strategy from his running mate, Paul Ryan, who recently staged a marvelous dishwashing shift at a homeless shelter, even though the dishes had already been washed. But damn, it made a pretty picture. Until the shelter staff leaked the truth. And then it just looked desperate and sad. And hugely disingenuous.
Put those images side by side. They’re snapshots of each man’s internal moral compass. Do you want a president who moves beyond his resentment and digs in to do what’s right, or one who uses a disaster to stage a lame-o photo opp for his own benefit? Do you want a president who will come to your side in a disaster, or one who will use your pain to further his own career? Let your own internal moral compass guide you when you vote.
My internal compass points at integrity. Always. Right now, it’s pointing at Bronco Bama. But if Chris Christie runs for president in 2016, that needle may swing to the right.
— Email Debra DeAngelo, winner of the 2012 Best Serious Column award in the National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.edebra.com