Yesterday, President Obama took a tour of the New Jersey coast with Chris Christie. The photo was sent out as a White House tweet, and retweeted by Christie's official Twitter feed. There was a press conference where both men praised the efforts of each other, and stood together, committed to the restoration of the devastated areas of New Jersey. The White House had offered to Mike Bloomberg that the president would also be happy to tour affected areas of New York City, but Bloomberg said that it was enough that he went to Jersey. No animosity, and appreciation for the coordination with FEMA.
One of the things the President mentioned in his remarks was that there was a 15 minute return time from his staff back out to affected governors, and county and local officials. On various news sources, multiple mayors and county executives mentioned in interviews how quickly they received callbacks.
For those of us familiar with the Jersey shore, the scenes from the tour are unthinkable: places with memories of laughter and vacations now close to unrecognizable. The things in the wrong places, like houses in the middle of streets, the gas fires, the missing boardwalks, the twisted remains of an amusement park. And then there's the sand. EPA has regulations that once sand is forced off the beach, it cannot be returned to the beach: Obama will certainly direct the EPA to make an exception, since this isn't a bit of sand forced inland, these ARE the beaches.
I keep looking at that picture, and to me, it bespeaks what government is for. Here you have the governor of a state where at least a quarter of the population is in trouble: underwater, homeless, shocked. His sole concern is helping them. He is facing the President whose concerns are for all the afflicted people in Jersey. While the fates of other hard hit areas are certainly bearing down on his shoulders, with pinpoint focus he is focused on listening to the specific concerns of this state.
New Jersey certainly doesn't have the resources in the face of a natural disaster this big. NO state does. But a federal-state partnership can get in there and do what is necessary. For most Federal projects, there is a requirement that the localities contribute a portion of the costs. Many of the seaside towns are tiny, and dependent on summer tourist monies to get through the year: hopefully there will be a way for all of us Americans to have our tax dollars rerouted to do what is necessary.
We are 5 days out from an election with epic repercussions. On the one hand, you have the Democrats, and those few Republicans (that would be Chris Christie, and Mike Bloomberg, use the comments if you know any others, and yes I know Bloomberg is currently an independent and neither is running this year) who are willing to work with the Democrats, and then you have the rest of the Republican party. The former believe that government is a force for good, that it exists FOR America. The latter want to dismantle the Federal government for everything EXCEPT management of women's reproductive health and protection of funneling ever more dollars from the 99% to the 1%. It is that simple.
If you're not in a Sandy-devastated area, get your voters out – we need a government that can deal with the fact that Sandy is a warning of things to come, not an anomaly. We need a government that supports first responders. We need to prevent having a government that would have said to Chris Christie “Hey, it's your state. Good luck.”
It's that simple.
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