NJ's Republican Party Must Change
by Bret Schundler
Election Day, the Democrats actually came in second. The winner, by a wide
margin, was the Totally Disgusted With Politics Party.
Voting data shows that the
majority of state residents, already so contemptuous of New Jersey politics
that they won’t affiliate with either party, refused even to vote for a
perceived “lesser of two evils” this year. They just stayed home.
This gave the Democrats
total control of the New Jersey Legislature, because as the Party of
Government Out for Itself, they have a huge registration advantage amongst
those who make their money from big government, and who vote year in and
year out, no matter what.
This will also give solace
to Jim McGreevey. He has long believed that, politically speaking, it
doesn’t matter how much you lie to, or betray, the people. All that does
matter is that you raise more campaign money than your opposition, so that
at election time you can air more campaign commercials.
Accordingly, on the day
after he was elected in 2001, he ditched his campaign promise to end the
corrupt Pay to Play system in New Jersey (where politicians provide massive
no-bid contracts to contributors who provide them with massive political
contributions), and set himself to the task of raising as much such money as
he possibly could. Indeed, he set a new standard in such corrupt money
and the Democrats also betrayed their campaign promises to address New
Jersey’s property tax and car insurance crises, and to not raise state
taxes. Yet still, on Election Day, they gained legislative seats.
Expect, therefore, Jim
McGreevey and the Democrats to read this election as a vindication of their
political strategy, and to change nothing about themselves in the years
ahead. They will continue to ignore New Jersey’s property tax and insurance
crises, and stick it to the people with abandon.
But I believe Jim
McGreevey and the Democrats are mis-reading this election. In 2001,
McGreevey defeated me partly because he was able to misrepresent my positive
proposals. This year, the Democrats were helped by the fact that as a
statewide party, Republicans emphasized no positive proposals. But Jim
McGreevey and the Democrats aren’t fooling the people of New Jersey.
The people are totally
disgusted with New Jersey’s state politics and with its politicians. They
will continue to boycott elections, causing Republicans to continue to lose,
as long as the people fail to see Republicans offering understandable,
credible solutions to the spending, tax, and insurance crises making New
Jersey unaffordable. But if Republicans unite behind credible solutions to
these crises, the people will give us their votes.
I learned a lot from my
defeat in 2001, and I believe my party received a wake up call on Tuesday
that will cause it to change not only for the good of our candidates, but
for the good of all New Jersey. Indeed, in my opinion a Republican Party
committed to true reform is the people’s best hope for a government that
actually serves them, and the people seeing this in the Republican Party is
the Republican Party’s best hope for the future.
When average voters tune
out, Democrats can still win. But Republicans can’t. We need to be, and we
need voters to see us as, the Party that Fights for the People!
--Bret Schundler, the
Republican nominee for Governor in 2001, is President of Empower the People,
a state-wide citizens action group working to solve the property tax and
school funding crisis in New Jersey.