Chris Christie

As the anti-vaccine controversy dominated the news cycles, many politicians weighed in, including potential Republican candidates for president. Sen. Rand Paul, heir apparent to his father’s movement, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered by many to be a moderate Northeast Republican, both stated that vaccines should be voluntary.  


Christie stated his belief in the importance of vaccines, and that his children are vaccinated. However, he also stated, “Parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well.”  


Christie, usually blunt, appeared to be walking a tightrope between the opposing sides. Paul stated in an interview with CNBC: “The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.”  


However, there is a contradiction in conservative philosophy and the Republican Party platform. If we take conservative arguments against mandatory vaccines and replace the word “parents” with “women,” and “children” with “uterus,” conservatives believe the opposite when it comes to abortion: The state doesn’t own your uterus. Women own their uterus, and it is an issue of freedom.   


UT's chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas professed the same conflicting statements regarding the two issues: "YCT is 100% pro-life," and "YCT is not against vaccinations but we do believe that individuals should have the right to opt-out." 


Conservative philosophy argues that the government does not have the right to legislate parents’ decisions for their children, but argues that the government has the right to legislate women’s decisions concerning their own bodies. It’s more than simply an “issue of freedom.” 


For the sake of argument, let’s consider the conservative belief that abortion is morally wrong.  In this case, a woman’s decision affects the fetus in her womb and herself. Abortion is a private decision. Not vaccinating your children contributes to the resurgence of deadly diseases that present a serious danger to the entire population. Plus, the scientific community has debunked the claim that these vaccines have such negative effects. A parent’s decision not to vaccinate their children affects many beyond their own children. It’s a public decision. It becomes a public health concern.  


You can’t falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, you can’t drive a car as fast as you would like and you can’t drive drunk. You aren't allowed to do these things because doing so puts many other people at risk of injury or death.  


Not vaccinating our children puts many other people at risk of serious illness and death. You need to vaccinate your children, and the government should make us. We all hate speeding tickets, but without speed limits the roads would be much more dangerous. We should not sacrifice health and safety for the sake of blind freedom. Freedom for the sake of freedom is not good policy. 


While the GOP probably views it as a necessary compromise, the hypocrisy undermines their platform. The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, famously said, “A house divided itself cannot stand.” 


The Republican Party will not fare well in 2016 if the candidates have to split their allegiance between the social conservatives and the libertarians still in the closet. Republicans either need to embrace personal freedom across the board or cut the tea party loose.  
What if the anti-establishment conservatives had to fend for themselves? What if all the pot-smoking gun enthusiasts had a party to call their own? What if there was a new legitimate third party? A new libertarian party could pull a substantial amount of Republicans out west (Colorado and Washington), socially-liberal-fiscal-conservatives and many young people disillusioned by Democrats’ and Republicans’ similarities. A Libertarian party free from the Republican establishment has real potential. If the right candidate went viral on the Internet, he or she could poll at 15 percent and participate in the presidential debates.  


We cannot have a real debate or productive dialogue with such ideological contradiction. All I’m asking for is consistency. Be true to yourselves. And please, for society’s sake, vaccinate your kids.


Burchard is a Plan II senior from Houston. Follow Burchard on Twitter @nathburch.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a crowd at a town hall meeting in Manchester, N.J. on March 29, 2012. Last month, Christie branded a lawmaker “one arrogant S--” at another town hall meeting.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

What the $?&(! is going on with our politicians?

The mayors of New York and Philadelphia and the governor of New Jersey let loose with a few choice vulgarities over the past two weeks in otherwise G-rated public settings, including a town-hall meeting and a City Hall event.

And all three men knew full well the microphone was on.

While foul language has been uttered in politics before, the blue streak is making some wonder whether it reflects the coarsening effects of pop culture in this reality-TV era of “Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives,” a decline in public discourse, a desire by politicians to come across as average Joes, or just a really hot summer.

First there was famously blunt New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie branding a lawmaker “one arrogant S.O.B.” at a town hall last month (and using some stronger epithets in discussing his passion for the music, though not the politics, of Bruce Springsteen in an interview published in The Atlantic this month.)

Then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, apparently having trouble stomaching a slew of puns in his prepared remarks for Tuesday’s contestant weigh-in at City Hall before the Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest, chuckled, “Who wrote this s---?” to guffaws from the crowd.

Then it was Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s turn on Thursday at a news conference at which he discussed a shooting a few blocks from the center of the city’s July Fourth celebration. He said he wasn’t going to let the city’s image be harmed by “some little ass---- 16-year-old.”

“My sense is: Because they want to appear to be in tune with popular culture, politicians feel free to express themselves in profane ways,” said Rutgers University political scientist Ross K. Baker. And he finds that troubling: “I honestly do believe that, in aping the coarseness of popular culture, people in public life are really dragging us into a discourse of fang and claw.”

President Harry S. Truman was criticized for his use of such salty language — for his time — as “hell” and “damn.” And many Americans were shocked by Richard Nixon’s liberal use of profanities on the Watergate tapes, which made “expletive deleted” a pop-culture catchphrase.

In more recent years, then-candidate George W. Bush was caught on what he didn’t realize was a live microphone describing a reporter as a “major-league ass----,” and Vice President Dick Cheney hurled the F-word at Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor.

In 2010, Vice President Joe Biden was heard using the F-word on live television in a whispered congratulation to President Barack Obama at the signing of his health care bill.

The seeming proliferation of political swearing reflects changes in both social norms and the media landscape, said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. Offhand remarks that might once not have been reported now get captured on video and posted online.

“Politics has been nasty” for years, Thompson said. “The difference is we now have media that show this stuff.”

Nutter, who has used vulgarities before in response to street violence, has described his language as an “honest, clear, direct response.”

Christie has built his political career on his brash style. His warning to people to “get the hell off the beach” as Hurricane Irene approached last year appeared in big front-page headlines around the state.

As for the lawmaker who was the target of the Republican governor’s salty remark last month, he’s not complaining.

“He actually gave me national attention,” Democratic state Sen. Paul Sarlo said. “The term is more of an insult to my mom, who is not politically involved.”

Still, Sarlo saw the comment as unbecoming of a governor who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential contender.

The biggest problem with political figures using bad language is that it crowds out whatever they were actually trying to say, said etiquette expert Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute. “The words we’re focusing on are probably not the ones they want us to,” she said.

And what of the average citizens politicians are trying to reach — or, perhaps, emulate?

Kristina Klimovich, for one, doesn’t like to hear them swear. “I think there’s always a line, and as a public servant there are certain standards they have to adhere to,” said Klimovich, of New York.

But Lisa Garfield of Springfield, Mass., said, “It makes them more human.”

“I’m 52 years old,” she said, “and I don’t know anyone who’s never used a cuss word in their life.”

TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie will take no action Thursday night on a gay marriage bill OK’d by the New Jersey Assembly.

The Assembly passed the bill allowing same-sex nuptials by a 42-33 vote earlier Thursday. But the chamber isn’t required to send the bill to Christie’s desk until the close of business Friday.

Christie, a Republican who opposes gay marriage, has promised “very swift action” once the bill reaches his desk.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said no action on the bill would be taken before Friday.

The Democratic controlled Legislature then has two years to try to override the governor, something they have yet to be successful at doing. Six states and Washington, D.C. recognize gay marriage. Washington State’s new gay marriage law is set to take effect in June.

News Briefly

TRENTON, N.J. — After a surge of new speculation, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared with finality Tuesday that “now is not my time” to run for president, dashing the hopes of Republicans still searching for someone other than front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

Christie had insisted for months that he wouldn’t run. But then came an intense weekend of reconsideration before he made a firm announcement at a news conference at the New Jersey Statehouse. His decision means the campaign now basically belongs to Romney and Perry, battling to take on President Barack Obama three months before the first GOP voting.

Whoever wins, Christie said he wasn’t seeking vice presidency.

“I just don’t think I have the personality to be asked,” he said. “I’m not looking for that job.”

Printed on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 as: NJ Gov. Chris Christie clarifies that he's not running in 2012

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ducked questions Thursday about whether he’s considering a GOP presidential bid, while helping Louisiana’s Republican Party fund raise for the state’s fall election cycle.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s entry into the 2012 presidential race could dramatically reshape what has become a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. But Christie, who’s under pressure from party elders to run, hasn’t faced national scrutiny — and he could join other early favorites who burned out fast.

The budget-cutting Christie is the latest heartthrob of Republicans who have been looking for a more exciting candidate than Romney.

Perry jumped in to much fanfare only to sweat under the scrutiny his first national campaign brought. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann rallied restive conservatives long enough to win a key test vote in Iowa but just as quickly receded to the background.

Christie said in January he wasn’t “arrogant enough” to run for president. Now he is reconsidering in light of encouragement from GOP luminaries like Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

If he runs, Christie probably would be able to raise millions for a campaign, though his rivals are ahead. As a Republican governor of a Democratic mid-Atlantic state, he could appeal to those who like Romney’s business background but want more charisma.

If he does run, Christie would push a long list of second-tier candidates even further to the back of the pack. He would also face a national spotlight that’s much harsher than those on the state or local stage.

“The swimming pool looks a lot better until you jump right in. The water may not be quite as warm as you think,” Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee in 2008, warned Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“The best thing to be is a potential candidate,” said Rich Galen, a Republican strategist. “I don’t think anybody can stand up to that scrutiny without laying the groundwork for a long time before.”

Just ask Perry. Two months ago, Republicans were pushing him to run. He shot to the top of national polls after his announcement in mid-August. A few shaky debate performances and many attacks from Romney later, Perry has already begun to fade due in part to a bill he signed that allows illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at Texas universities.

Perry aides point to the fact that he has been running for about six weeks, while Romney has been preparing his second presidential bid since the first one ended. But they acknowledge that starting later has made Perry’s path more difficult and say Christie could face similar problems.

“The scrutiny that will come on his ideological and fiscal policies and social policies will be magnified greatly because of the short time period,” said David Carney, Perry’s top strategist.

Christie favors some restrictions on gun rights, civil unions for gay couples and opposes abortion but described himself as “pro-choice” at the beginning of his political career.

That will provide plenty of fodder for Romney, whose campaign has moved steadily through repeated rounds of other candidates.

“The Romney campaign has been built to withstand all elements and endure every candidate scenario,” said Kevin Madden, a senior Romney aide in 2008 who now serves as an informal adviser. And a Christie entry could end up actually helping Romney.

“Everyone will aim at the perceived frontrunner,” said Galen. “It helps Romney because it will keep the pressure off of him for the next three to four weeks, and depending what happens with the calendar, Romney just has to gather himself and sprint to the finish.”

But top operatives there say they haven’t yet heard from Christie’s team, and the story is much the same in New Hampshire.

“Gov. Christie would make a compelling candidate for president, but there is no evidence whatsoever that he has reached out to top Republican officials and opinion leaders,” said Mike Dennehy, a top New Hampshire Republican strategist.