Mar 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 25 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
“No one can or should sit on the sidelines.”
—Hillary Clinton, at the University of Miami,
February 26, 2014
Hillary Clinton is right. Well, partly right. Her characteristic disregard for personal freedom and her instinctive love of the nanny state lead her to say that no one can sit on the sidelines. That’s wrong. In a liberal society that respects the private sphere, citizens can choose to stay off the playing field of politics. Indeed, some should do so. Many of our great national achievements come from individuals staying far from the madding political crowd, and deciding instead to engage in business enterprises, or to strive for manifold forms of intellectual or artistic greatness, or to engage in an array of nonpolitical activities that manifest human decency and even nobility.
But Clinton is right in this respect. If you’re already engaged in public life—in particular, if you’re a conservative, if you care about the Constitution and about your country—you shouldn’t be on the sidelines at this moment of national crisis. In this year’s election control of the Senate is at stake, and with it the ability of Congress to mitigate the further damage the Obama administration will seek to do in its final two years.
Of course, 2016 is the true time for choosing. Another four years of a Democratic president would mean that Obamacare survives, the Supreme Court is lost, and American world leadership is gone. Another four years of contemporary liberalism in power would leave conservatives able only to mutter a sad “so long” to limited government, to wave goodbye to the original Constitution, and to say a fond farewell to American greatness.
So conservatives need to step up. The Weekly Standard spent much of 2011 imploring men whom we judged would be superior candidates and better presidents than those already running to join the race for the 2012 Republican nomination. For various reasons, Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan and Chris Christie resisted the call. Perhaps they were right to do so.
This time we do not intend to do any imploring. Those who don’t want to run shouldn’t. We will assume that if good men and women hesitate, there’s a good reason.
But we will honor those who take the plunge. A couple of weeks ago, our friend and frequent Weekly Standard contributor Jeffrey Bell announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for Senate in New Jersey. Bell won that nomination as a young man in 1978. An unknown, he engineered a historic defeat of the incumbent liberal Republican, Clifford Case. Even though Bell lost the general election to Bill Bradley, his upset played a role in changing the character of the Republican party and in paving the way for Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Bell has had a fruitful career since then as a conservative activist and thinker. He didn’t have to choose to once again subject himself to the rigors of elective politics. But he did. As it happens, we suspect, contrary to conventional wisdom, that Bell has a chance—an outside chance—to defeat the overrated incumbent, Cory Booker. We think he has a good chance to help the overall conservative cause by running. The fact is, despite the long odds, Bell is back in the arena, trying to perform yet another service for his cause and for his country.
Good for him. Other conservatives should be inspired by his example. They should also be inspired by these words of Thomas Paine—who, though, not much of a conservative, was a patriot of the first order:
“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. . . . We have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
In our November 25, 2013, issue, Jonathan V. Last chronicled the story of Ocean Grove, the New Jersey shore town which was being denied FEMA relief funds to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy. The problem was that Ocean Grove was originally settled as a Methodist campsite and that the town remains nominally Christian—which is to say that it is governed by a “Camp Meeting Association,” which has roughly the power of a garden-variety homeowner’s association. But which also happens to own all of the land.
1:22 PM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
1.) So just how bad is this George Washington Bridge traffic incident?
It's bad. Pretty bad. Super bad, even. Chief executives just don't use the power of government to exact revenge on ordinary citizens for what they take to be political insubordination.
1:28 PM, Jan 10, 2014 • By SOHRAB AHMARI
Amiri Baraka, New Jersey’s controversial one-time poet laureate, died yesterday, aged 79. The poet, essayist, and playwright’s body of work will be remembered, if at all, as among the least humane in the history of American letters. An early 9/11 denier—a notorious 2002 poem suggested Jews were responsible for the attacks—Baraka embraced many of the last century’s worst ideologies.
1:39 PM, Jan 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The former top political advisor to President Barack Obama says that Chris Christie will live to "fight another day," if he's telling the truth. Axelrod made the comment in a tweet.
"Christie handled about as well as he could. Unless smoking gun turns up tying him to scheme, or others arise, he lives 2 fight another day," said Axelrod.
12:52 PM, Jan 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
New Jersey governor Chris Christie said today at a press conference that he's "a sad guy standing here today":
7:39 AM, Jan 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Chris Christie will face the press today at 11 a.m. in Trenton, New Jersey. He'll address to growing bridge traffic controversy.
Yesterday, in a statement released by his office, he called it "unacceptable."
Populists versus elitists in the Republican party.Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By FRED BARNES
The least interesting thing that happened in the odd-year election was Chris Christie’s reelection as governor of New Jersey. It was like a football game between Alabama and Vassar: A Republican governor with extraordinary political skills and an impressive record in his first term crushes a throwaway Democratic challenger in a blue state. This was totally expected, thus devoid of excitement or drama.
The New Jersey governor muscles his way to the front of the pack, for now. Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Morris Plains, N.J.
On election eve, Chris Christie has come home to rally a few hundred supporters in Morris County, the place where he was first elected and now lives with his wife, Mary Pat, and their four children.
Will the GOP be ready?Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JAY COST
The governorship of Virginia has been held by some of the most eminent men in American history: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, Henry Lee, James Monroe. And now, Terry McAuliffe will sit in their chair. Depressing?
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:15 PM, Nov 6, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with executive editor Fred Barnes recapping the 2013 elections in Virginia, New Jersey, New York and across the country.
4:41 PM, Nov 5, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a Republican, is on his way to winning big in his bid for reelection Tuesday, and there's already talk he may be on his way to running for president in three years. Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, Christie argued he's not a moderate as he's sometimes portrayed.
1:01 PM, Oct 31, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
New Jersey governor Chris Christie is practically coasting toward reelection next week. The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls show a race that isn't even close. On Tuesday, just a year after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, the Republican spoke in Sea Bright, on the Jersey shore, about the work of his citizens to rebuild the communities devastated by the storm. Watch video of Christie's remarks below:
12:18 PM, Oct 17, 2013 • By JEFFREY BELL
In his concession speech to Senator-elect Cory Booker in Bridgewater, N.J., on election night, Steve Lonegan announced that he would retire from elective politics and enter private business, rather than mount another U.S. Senate race against Booker next year or return to his post as New Jersey director of Americans for Prosperity, a high-profile position he held from 2007 until mid-2013. Whether or not he holds to this withdrawal, conservatives not just in New Jersey but the nation owe Lonegan a debt of gratitude for the underfunded yet exciting campaign he waged, and what it suggests for the future of Republican politics.