Agora Debate: Chris Christie: GOP Hope, or Hack?

With the Republican party still reeling from its Tea Party-led government shutdown debacle and already casting about for a candidate to win the White House in 2016, the name of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – who speaks his mind glibly – has come to the front of the pack.

Another hopeful, Ted Cruz, has seen his star already start to fall after his 21-hour filibuster against President Barack Obama’s deeply flawed Obamacare scheme fell flat and drew some ridicule after the Texas Senator, apparently of arguments, resorted to citing Dr. Seuss and hamburgers at White Castle.

Christie is more formidable, as he proved with an cakewalk re-election victory in which he showed he was fast on his feet and adept with reason.

In this week’s Agora debate, TNH Executive Editor Constantinos Scaros – a Presidential scholar – sings Christie’s praises while historian-anarchist-poet Dan Georgakas makes the case that Christie is just another GOP flop.

Scaros, still in search of the next Ronald Reagan, thinks that Christie would be a stronger Presidential candidate in 2016 than the Republicans fielded in 2008 and 2012. Georgakas, however, wasn’t thrilled with the original Reagan to begin with.

The regular Agora feature is drawn from the ancient Greek marketplace of ideas that TNH aspires to continue as a modern tradition.

We hope you enjoy them, and we look forward to your taking part in the discussion as well – by contributing letters to the editor in response, and/or commenting on our

And as always – WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?


SCAROS: Dan, you are the ideal person to ask about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who just won reelection by a landslide, because even though I think you are far more a centrist than a liberal, my guess would be that, more often than not, you would vote for a Democrat over a Republican. So, my question to you is: what do you think of Chris Christie?

I, for one, am very excited that the momentum of his win last week reportedly has propelled him to frontrunner status among Republicans in the 2016 Presidential race.

Much like Rudy Giuliani, who I wished had been the GOP nominee in 2008, Christie is a street-smart New York Metropolitan Area Republican who is not afraid to point out any idiocy he encounters, whether it stems from Democrats or from within his own party.

Perhaps most notably, Christie scored points from Democrats when he worked side-by-side with President Obama during Hurricane Sandy last year. That, of course, angered those who would rather freeze to death on the side of the road in the middle of the night than hitch a ride home with Obama, if those were the only two options.

Christie is also the antithesis to his party’s libertarian brand, led most notably by Rand Paul, with whom Christie has sparred verbally about what America’s role on the world stage ought to be.

Paul believes that we need to return to pre-Wilsonian isolationism, whereas Christie maintains that is an unrealistic position in these times.

The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) did not invite Christie to speak at its annual conference this year, because he had criticized an ad by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that said if Obama’s daughters should have armed security protection (aka the Secret Service), then all children should, too – as a “reprehensible” use of the president’s children to make a political point.

Although I am a strong supporter of the individual right to bear arms, I think that the NRA’s hallowed status within the GOP these days is both frightening and absurd, and I, for one, applaud Christie for his remark. That CPAC chose not to invite him only confirms how out-of-touch they are.

Speaking of being out-of-touch, did you see what happened in the Alabama GOP Congressional runoff? Bradley Byrne, a mainstream Republican, defeated his Tea Party counterpart, Dean Young.

Byrne criticizes Obama quite a bit, which is certainly fine, but generally he does so in a respectful manner. Appropriately, he finds it preposterous that Young, by stark contrast, perpetuates the nonsense that Obama was born in Kenya.

It is buffoons like Young and his ilk that do not realize they were more valuable to Obama’s reelection than even Obama’s own campaign staff!

As someone who greatly admired Republicans like Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush (whose biggest flaw was being naive, thereby surrounding himself with a bad crowd), but is utterly ashamed of most of the nutcases that have hijacked a once-great party, I am grateful for Republicans like Chris Christie. And though I have never asked you, Dan, if I were to hazard a guess, I’d bet that you voted against Reagan both times – for Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984. And so, I don’t think that, like me, you are eagerly awaiting “the next Ronald Reagan,” because you weren’t particularly fond of the first one. So, from your point of view, what do you think of Chris Christie?


Dino, I would not support Governor Chris Christie for President as he is neutral or opposed to many of the political positions I consider important.

At the top of my list is education. I would like to see the availability of free education from pre-kindergarten through grad school for all citizens. If this seems utopian, note that Sweden already has it, and teacher bashing is not part of its political agenda.

Public health is equally important, a basic responsibility for a well-governed and civilized nation. The solution to our health woes is a single payer plan like those in effect in all other advanced nations. This reform requires taking power away from insurance and drug companies.

The deterioration of the environment is reaching the point of no return. Our long-term national interests would be well served even if alternative energy was totally subsidized by the government. Effective measures require ending the power of the oil, gas, and coal barons to poison our land, air, and water.

President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex decades ago. Since his time in office, we have been engaged in near constant, often unwinnable wars and have not hesitated to use chemical weapons such as Agent Orange. Currently we have 1,000 military bases around the world.

If we closed even half of them, the financial savings would be sufficient to finance needed domestic reforms. We also would be safer as less hostility to our policies would make it harder for our extremist foes to cultivate new recruits.

Despite the gains won by women, we still live in a sexist culture and the condition of women is horrendous in many nations. The United States should be a champion of women’s rights.

We need politicians who strongly support rather than thwart science. The pope and his medieval cohorts enforced the teaching that the sun revolves around the earth, but Copernicus and Galileo were right. Modern problems such as global warming will not be solved by politicians who deny there is a problem.

Being Greek and American, I definitely want elected representatives who support the Hellenic view regarding Cyprus, FYROM, and religious rights in Turkey. Senator Robert Menendez, from Christie’s own state, is excellent on all of these issues.

In terms of ideology, I support the profoundly democratic communal economic and social ideas projected in Mutual Aid by Peter Kropotkin. I realize most Americans do not share that view, so I try to be as practical and reasonable as possible without compromising my principles. If that be centrism, fine.

Returning to the potential candidacy of Governor Christie, I judge him to be a solid conservative with an effective electoral style. He only seems moderate when compared to Republican reactionaries, economic vultures, and cranks such as Senator Cruz (TX), Senator Paul (KY), Senator Rubio (FL), and Congressman Ryan (WI). Aside from the newly-elected Senator Warren (MA), none of the Democrats are impressive either. The one senator who stands out for me is Bernie Sanders (VT), a self-described socialist who is elected as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats.

I am an inveterate third party voter. I voted for the Green Party in the last three presidential elections, twice for Ralph Nader and once for Jill Stein. Count me as a stubborn Greek who would rather vote for what he thinks best and lose, than vote for a lesser evil and get it.