Today was Chris Christie's last day in office, a true cause for celebration. I was going to write an angry, schadenfreude-laden epitaph for that bastard, but I think I will leave that for later this week. Instead, I decided to keep it positive, and to write a letter to the new governor, Phil Murphy. Here's what I sent him:
Dear Governor Murphy:
Just writing the phrase “Governor Murphy” after the last eight years brings me a tremendous amount of happiness. I am a daily commuter to New York City, and my wife is a public school teacher. Needless to say, my family has not fared well under the leadership of the last eight years.
I was glad to vote for you in the election, and your sign was the first one I ever put on my lawn for a state-level race. You have promised a great deal, and I now ask that you do everything possible to come through on those promises. I especially want to see my wife’s pension protected, improved mass transit, less test-driven education for my children, and access to reasonably priced state university tuition when they graduate high school. I’d like those things for all children in New Jersey, which has some amazing public schools but also horrific levels of racial and economic segregation. I hope you can address that, too.
My parents’ stories are very much like your own. They were both the first people in their families to go to college, and they came of age at a time when our society offered working people a hand up instead of cutting them down at the knees. I look at my two daughters and fear that they are entering a world where opportunities are more and more scarce. I often wonder if my own family’s journey into the middle class will be a temporary blip in a longer history of emiseration. You have the power to do so much to keep opportunities open, I ask you please to follow up on these promises.
Like you, I made the choice to live in New Jersey. I grew up in Nebraska, and bounced around the country, from Chicago to Texas and points in-between. Lucky for me, I fell in love with a Jersey girl and have finally put down my roots in the Garden State. For that reason it is a very important place to me, because I am here to stay. I am well aware from my years here of the difficulties of New Jersey’s politics.
For that reason, I ask you to be bold. It is obvious to me at least that if we want to provide high quality public services while not adding too much to the tax burden that New Jersey needs consolidation. Our state’s patchwork of tiny clusters of towns is the result of a bad policy from the 1890s. Consolidating school systems, fire departments, police, and other public services has the potential to ease the tax burden without punishing the poor or the rank and file public workers. We should also, as you have proposed, increase taxation on the wealthy.
You will also need to do your best to fight the machine. Little has disheartened me more than seeing bosses like Norcross and DiVincenzo put their support behind Christie in a corrupt bargain. Their graft has been bad for the state and only helped their cronies. Instead of making deals with them I would like to be part of a movement to get them voted out and their power broken so that our state works for the people and not for the machine. Make deals with them if you must in the short term, but in the long term please do not accept the status quo.
I also ask you to be bold in promoting New Jersey. The ridiculous rent prices in New York City ought to be a boon to our state. Yet, as you know, our transit infrastructure hampers our ability to exploit the desire by so many in New York to find a better place to live. New Jersey has so much to offer, and instead of having an inferiority complex (as so many in this state sadly do) you should project what is great about this state. We have high performing schools, wonderful diversity, amazing food resulting from that diversity, mountains and the glittering sea shore. I truly feel that this state is one of America’s best-kept secrets, and we ought to be proud of what we have here. You can be this state’s ambassador and cheerleader, and hopefully project a far more positive image than the last occupant of the governor’s mansion.
Of course, I am well aware of how the recent tax legislation in Washington will make it hard to fulfill the promises you have made. At the same time, if we are to defeat the president and his Republican minions, we have to show the people a better alternative. The best way to do that is to make positive changes in people’s lives, and the only way to do that is to be bold. As you have said, I think that we need to get down to work on that right here in New Jersey. If you do your part, I pledge to do mine.
Dr. Werner Herzog's Bear