One Good Thing to Come Out of the “Bridgegate” Scandal

Chris Christie, New JerseyFor those just catching up on the week in headline news: Republican politician Chris Christie, currently governor of New Jersey but intermittently mentioned in hushed tones among optimistic rank-‘n’-file as a possible party savior in the 2016 Presidential race, has been accused of directing his subordinates to pull transportation strings and create a four-day traffic snarl where the George Washington Bridge connects Manhattan to the New Jersey town of Fort Lee, allegedly because its mayor hadn’t fallen in lockstep with his party colleagues and publicly endorsed Christie’s future endeavors.

Or something like that. I’ve missed some finer details. Political stories don’t stick with me for long. (When I first began noticing heated debates in my circles about Benghazi, my only reaction was, “Is that Ian MacKaye’s new band?”) Bridgegate was unusual enough and filled with enough bipartisan hot-button issues — political extortion, abuse of power, petty vengeance — that I finally relented and read an article or two about it. At this point it’s now all about denials, apologies, firings, and now I’m seeing the word “subpoena” creeping onto the battlefield. I imagine this brouhaha is only in its infancy and in no danger of falling off the main page anytime soon.

I am grateful for one noticeable change that’s a direct result of Bridgegate: over the past two days, whenever internet users were overwhelmed with the urge to take potshots at Christie, the jokes were no longer about his weight.

The following has zero to do with politics…

Even If You Can’t Vote by Faith, by Party, or by Common Sense, Vote Anyway.

Voting stickerAfter being raised in a household free of overt political discussion, I never had any idea which political party was mine. A moment of clarity arrived in eleventh-grade Physics class when a fellow student named Jeff sought to offer me personal definition: he asked me my views on abortion. I gave him an answer. He told me which party was mine. To him, it was as simple as that. I decided then and there that the two-party monopoly left a lot to be desired. Thus was my head sent spinning into years of aimless political apathy, college-campus pluralism, irritatingly noncommittal neutrality, alternative-newspaper perusal, and Jello Biafra spoken-word albums. Truly it was a time of intellectual isolation for me, though the accompanying music could be cool at times.

Two decades later, I’m no more into taking arbitrary sides, generalizing entire parties based on the actions of a single faction, or collecting campaign buttons than I was in my misanthropic youth. However, at least now I can say I’m participating in the voting process anyway, because the small local elections are close enough to home that the votes really can make a difference, free of interference from unhelpful interlopers like the Electoral College. Also, just because I can.

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