Christie must regard entire NJ population
Gov. Chris Christie’s statewide town hall meetings paint him as a man of the people, but according to the Star-Ledger, he’s a man of a very specific subset of people. The newspaper conducted an analysis of the 46 towns Christie has visited on his town hall tours and found that the vast majority of them are largely white, wealthy and GOP-leaning. A few brief statistics will help prove the point: 32 of the towns Christie has held meetings in have higher average incomes than the entire state’s average income; 32 of the towns also voted for Christie in the 2009 election; the 46 towns considered together represent 21 percent of New Jersey’s white population and only 9.3 percent of the black population. Craig Varoga, a Democratic political strategist, said it best when he told NJ.com that “the most generous interpretation is that [Christie is] preaching to the choir.”
New Jersey is home to an ethnically, economically and politically diverse population. According to the 2010 U.S. census, our state’s population is 59.3 percent white, 13.7 percent black, 8.3 percent Asian and 17.7 percent Hispanic or Latino, among other divisions. The average per capita income in 2005-2009 was $34,566 and the median household income in 2009 was $68,444. Despite the obvious diversity of NJ’s people, Christie’s town house route has ignored large swaths of this population in favor of focusing on areas that represent very small pieces of the whole. Politically and cynically speaking, this makes sense: Of course Christie’s itinerary limits itself to towns where he will find overwhelming support and large groups of allies. It makes Christie look better and probably boosts his ego at least a little bit.
Even if we understand why Christie chooses to hold his town hall meetings in these areas, that doesn’t make it right. Christie is the governor of New Jersey, not just the rich, white, Republican subset of the state. As such, he is responsible for leading all of us, regardless of our races, economic classes or political affiliations. If he wants to hold these town hall meetings to engage with the people in intimate settings, he should be sure to engage with people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Even if someone did not vote for Christie or does not support his views, their status as a citizen of New Jersey means they have just as much a right to engage with Christie personally as his supporters do.