During his keynote address last night at the Republican National Convention, NJ Governor Chris Christie laid out a particular vision for America. In short, it was the kind of economic perspective that headed very clearly in a direction regularly favored by the Republican party.
As he gave his speech, however, he sounded forth a theme that spoke on a different level: the theme of sacrifice. Remembering his mother’s maxim that it is better to earn someone’s respect than have their love, Christie said that it was no longer time for pandering. Hard truths needed to be given that would require Americans to make tough decisions for the common good of our country.
From the Republicans’ point of view, these hard choices and sacrifices mean that government needs to be smaller and thus do less for the average citizen. State, local, and personal responsibility need to rise up in the place of what Christie and others consider an unwieldy, unbalanced, and unhealthy federal behemoth.
Yet at the same time I can’t help but think that the idea of sacrifice is one that Democrats could ask of Americans as well. Instead of inviting us to forego government services, they might in their own way assert that for the good of country, taxes must go up. From their point of view, for Americans to have the kind of society they ought, we must all give a little more. For all Americans to have adequate healthcare, for example, hard choices need to continue to be made.
Though I don’t have his exact words in front of me, Christie last night basically said that the age of politicians telling us only what we wanted to hear needs to end. Now. That bread and circuses may satisfy for a moment, but will provide no long-term fix for the problems that face us. Regardless of what direction we are asked to sacrifice, it is my hope that Republicans and Democrats alike, together with all citizens, might indeed think about tough decisions, hard choices, and necessary sacrifices in the times ahead. Whatever direction we decide to move, we need to pay something for it.
It is a stark call and not one that we want to hear. But it is definitely one we need to heed.