Even though Christie has been a long-time friend of Donald Trump and assisted him considerably during his campaigns and presidency, Christie generously criticizes Trump and his supporters for their penchant for falsehoods and conspiratorial thinking. He is well aware of the fact that Trump’s assertion that he won the 2020 presidential election, but it was stolen from him is clearly a Big Lie.
Christie believes that the Republican Party needs to separate itself from its right-wing extremists and revert to a conventional conservative platform based on ideas rather than myths, or simple opposition to whatever Democrats advocate.
“As Republicans, we need to free ourselves from the quicksand of endless grievances. We need to turn our attention to the future and quit wallowing in the past. We need to face the realities of the 2020 election and learn—not hide—from them. We need to discredit the extremists in our midst the way William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan once did. We need to renounce the conspiracy theorists and truth deniers, the ones who know better and the ones who are just plain nuts. We need to give our supporters facts that will help them put all those fantasies to rest so everyone can focus with clear minds on the issues that really matter. We need to quit wasting our time.”
Clearly not the word of a loyal Trumpster. Christie is not alone in asking Republicans to abandon Trump, the “Freedom Caucus” or Tucker Carlson and return to its core values of a generation ago. Georgia Lieutenant-Governor Geoff Duncan strongly critiqued his party in his book GOP 2.0. He was at Ground Zero for much of Trump’s efforts to unconstitutionally change the Georgia vote. Duncan is a solid conservative, but he believes that the party has been infected by extremism based on falsehoods tinged with absurd conspiracy theories. He stood by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others who firmly opposed Trump’s efforts to “find nearly 12,000 votes for him” so that he could be declared the winner in Georgia.
In the wake of the poor opening sales of his book, many have said that while Christie’s ideas may be of value, he is seeking an audience that is far smaller than he anticipated. Democrats are not interested in rescuing the Republican Party and Trump supporters am not inclined to support traditional Republicans.
I would recommend Christie’s book for several reasons:
- It provides further insight into one of the greatest mysteries for people who are not Republicans, and even some who are. I’m talking about the makeup of “the Republican Brain.” This is a phrase that became the title of Washington Post writer Chris Mooney’s 2012 book by the same name, The Republican Brain. The book is quite detailed and nuanced, but among the key points is that Republicans do not have the same level of empathy as others, nor do they engage in critical thinking the same way.
- It is becoming more apparent that the number one challenge for Americans is preserving our democracy. This means that we should do all that we legally can do to restrain the extreme right. Progressives and other Democrats need to preserve and strengthen the traditional Republican Party, no matter how weak it might be now. Rather than mocking Christie, I think that it would be wise to support him in his party-building efforts, though not with most of his conservative social and economic policies.
Christie is interesting, because while he shows no mercy towards the Biden Administration, he supports numerous progressive ideas on community policing, eliminating debtors’ prisons, making school curricula more relevant, and providing improved and more accessible health care.
If we are going to preserve democracy, we need to be prepared to talk with the Chris Christies of the world.