New Jersey’s Governor Christie Crushed By Legislative Results
New Jersey went to the polls on November 8th to elect a legislature: 40 State Senators and 80 State Representatives. The voters seem to be increasingly unwilling to choose between the lesser of two evils. It was the lowest turnout in New Jersey’s history. How low? Less than 1/3rd of the vote for president in 2008. How low? John McCain lost New Jersey with 333,677 more votes than were cast for all the State Senate candidates in 2011.
The campaign season was consumed by Governor Christie’s presidential non-campaign. He selfishly sucked all the air out of the political debate, consuming voters political interest with whether or not he would be a candidate for president, thereby depriving the voters of New Jersey of a chance to discuss the serious economic situation and what should be done about it. Now, given the low turnout, the government is too weak to act.
Behind the scenes, the former prosecutor was his usual thuggish self: keeping Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis off the ballot and ignoring a judge who threw out an election based on campaign finance reporting violations, a first.
The voters responded by giving the Governor a good drubbing while punishing the Democrats at the same time. Good work, team.
Based on State Senate results, turnout declined 143,253 or 10.1% from the comparable election four years ago. The Republican vote fell 69,157 (9.99%) while the Democratic vote fell a slightly higher (10.02%), a 0.03% difference. This is pretty bad, considering that the Democrats were running one fewer candidate than in 2007 (Carl Lewis) while the Republicans ran four more. In effect, it was a tie.
The Republicans gained one seat in the Assembly, raising their total to 33 while the Democrats slipped to 47. In the Senate the Republicans lost one seat, to change the balance from 23 Democrats/17 Republicans to 24 Democrats/16 Republicans.
In other words, it was a draw. Stay tuned for more of the same next year, although the sudden Republican change of heart on the payroll tax suspension may indicate that the New Jersey election results have had an impact in Washington. Just because the economy sucks does not automatically mean the Republicans will win next year.
The problem is that the media now suppresses election news that does not conform with the agenda of the owners. Russell Pearce, the Republican leader of the Arizona State Senate and architect of SB 1070, the draconian anti-immigration bill, was defeated in a recall election. Chris Christie’s bombast played poorly at the polls. Yet, the Republican House majority continues to insist that it is perfectly fine for nineteen year olds like Joshua Corral to die in Afghanistan fighting for his government, but unacceptable for billionaires to be asked to contribute more to solve the global debt crisis. Where do I enlist?
Last Call, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent (also available on audio) is a good example of how a minority opinion can, under the right circumstances, be turned into, not just policy, but a constitutional amendment. In short, the prohibitionists created a small, one issue constituency, that held the balance of power between the two centrist parties. Then, the conflation of women’s suffrage, World War I, and the gerrymandered districts that disenfranchised the urban population immediately preceding the 1920 reapportionment resulted in the passage of the 13th Amendment outlawing alcohol.
Unfortunately, this abolitionist model has now been copied by a multitude of special interest groups. The only problem is, when all the single issue fanatics collectively become the majority and centrists are unable to be elected because of party oriented gerrymandered districts, government grinds to a halt, which is what’s happening now. A multitude of minorities can prevent any action through veto, but still can not provide a positive program for governing.
Another book worthy of consideration is Lenin’s Brother: The Origins of the October Revolution by Philip Pomper. Lenin’s brother Alexander was executed for participating in a plot on the life of Czar Alexander III. The fight between socialism and capitalism was about means, not ends. Both the capitalists and the communists believed firmly in modernization. The contest was between which system was superior for industrializing.
Both socialists and the capitalists believed in science and objective truth. Both were adherents to Darwin’s theory of evolution. The difference was that the capitalists saw in Darwin the “survival of the fittest” of selecting and promoting the best individual in the group; while the socialists saw in “survival of the fittest” the sacrifice of the individual for the benefit of the group. Even in capitalist United States, the socialist ethos is deeply imbedded in the Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis. It is really historic circumstances that determine which aspect is emphasized the most. The United States had few people and lots of land that needed to be cleared. Russia had a huge peasant population attached to the land as serfs. The serfs were freed at about the same time as slavery was abolished in the United States. Russia was still ruled by kings as late as 1917.
An example of how historical conditions can make the same theory have polar opposite effects is that both France and the United States believe in separation of church and state. But in France that separation dictates banning the burka in public, while in the United States that separation dictates allowing it. Why? Because in France, which historically had a state religion, separation of church and state means protecting the state from the individual, while in the United States, which has never had a state religion, it means protecting the individual from the state.
Like most things in life, balancing between extremes is the most difficult. If everyone was suicidally selfless and sacrificed herself or himself for the good of the whole, the human race would die out. On the other hand, if everyone was totally selfish caring only about himself or herself the human race would equally self-destruct.
The economic problems are serious and likely to grow worse. The world population allegedly hit 7 billion on October 31st. That means the world has added 4 billion people in just 50 years. It took until 1804 for the world population to reach 1 billion, another 123 years, until 1927, for it to reach 2 billion; it hit 3 billion in 1960, when Kennedy was elected president, and 1 billion have been added every dozen years since. Why?
The collapse of the infant mortality rate. In 1954, the life expectancy in Britain was 70 and the infant mortality rate was 30 per thousand live births. In Egypt, right after Nasser came to power, the life expectancy was 42 and the infant mortality rate was 353 per thousand live births. Today, the life expectancy in Britain is 80 and the infant mortality rate is 6; while the life expectancy in Egypt is 70 and the infant mortality rate is 20. In other words, Egypt today is Britain in 1954. So, the problems we face are problems of success. We have done a good job of providing health care and eradicating disease.
All these people in Africa and Asia who would have died in previous generations are now living on and in need of food, housing, education, employment and computers. Another problem is that because of bias in favor of male offspring combined with low cost sex selection technology, there will be an excess of tens of millions of men with no women to marry. The suicidal terrorists of the future will come from these young, unemployed, frustrated males, unless there is a serious change in social norms in the developing world. My wife once told me that if I did not have sex every two or three days, I acted like the world was coming to an end. And it was. Satisfactory sex life is an essential component of a stable, peaceful society. But one thing is clear: providing employment is the major problem facing the world.
However intractable these economic problems seem and are, the most important thing to remember is that they are far preferable to war. World War I killed 1% of the world’s people, World War II killed 2.5%., one person in forty. World War III, if it goes nuclear, will kill 100%. Have a nice day.