Yesterday, Time Magazine announced that its 2012 Person of the Year, for the second time in five years, was the newly re-elected President Barack Obama. The editors said, “For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union, Barack Obama is TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year.” (http://poy.time.com/2012/12/19/the-choice/) When I read those words yesterday, with one of the most divisive Presidential elections in recent history in the rearview mirror, with the fiscal cliff crisis looming in the not-too-distant future, with an increasingly polarized Congress, my reaction was: I’m not so sure. I could understand why Barack Obama won the prestigous award in 2008, but not in 2012. And so, I began looking for another choice. Someone who surprised me, as a moderate, this year. Someone who demonstrated bipartisanship, in spite of an election year. Someone who was courageous in the face of disaster. Someone like Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey.Now, many might say that Chris Christie is just another far-right, partisan Republican. Big and blunt and bold. People see videos of the Governor’s town hall meetings, where he ferociously berates the occasional questioner. They see his television interviews, where he often gives answers that are too aggressive. However, no one sees news stories about corruption in New Jersey anymore. NO one hears about angry protestors storming the state capitol in Trenton. But everyone hears about a possible 2016 Presidential bid for Christie. If he was such an abominable politician, then why would these rumours get so much coverage?
For me, it started at the Republican National Convention in August. Governor Christie was the keynote speaker, presumably as a reward for his early and earnest support of Mitt Romney. Most convention keynote speeches are partisan atrocities, viciously destroying the opponent and shamelessly plugging the party. Christie’s address? Not so. He didn’t even mention the President by name once. The speech did not make the splash that it deserved; its poise was a rarity during the excessively partisan 2012 election season.
Then came Hurrican Sandy, just days before the nation went to the polls. And President Obama was coming to visit New Jersey. Christie had two choices: let the President tour the shores alone, and please the GOP, or, go with Obama and provide the President with the images of bipartisanship that he needed in a tight race. Christie chose the latter. And when 2016 finally comes, he might just pay for it. However, he did the right thing. In times of disaster, the nation needs to be reminded that opponents can in fact work together. John Boehner would do well to learn from Governor Chrisite’s example. The world may have forgotten about the ravaged shores of New Jersey, in light of the recent Newtown shootings and the fiscal cliff, but Governor Christie must help rebuild his state, long after the television crews are gone.
When selecting my own 2012 Person of the Year, I wasn’t thinking about who wielded the most power, or made the hardest decisions, or celebrated the most victories. I was thinking about what politician set an example for next year, an example that others should follow. What America needs in 2013 is more compromise, more bipartisanship. And so, I thought of Chris Christie.
Do you think that Chris Christie is the Person of the Year? If so, share this article with your friends! Should someone else have the honor? Post who and why in the comment section below!