Weeks after the 1964 presidential election, the Lyndon Johnson administration announced the closure of Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama. Johnson, who had a well-known reputation for rewarding friends and punishing enemies, was accused of punishing the state of Alabama for voting for Johnson’s 1964 opponent, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Johnson viewed the vote as a betrayal of the state’s traditional Democratic roots and ordered the base closed as retribution.
To my knowledge, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush rarely, if ever, punished a group of people or constituency for perceived insolence of their political leaders or for voting against them. Richard Nixon did, but then history is clear that Nixon was no conservative. Make an argument if you will that neither were the Bushes, but both at least endorsed some conservative ideals.
Barack Obama certainly has. See the IRS scandal, for example. There are others, but the Chicago community organizer knows how to reward friends and punish enemies.
As does, apparently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
At issue is an emerging scandal wherein top Christie aides apparently ordered access lanes to the George Washington Bridge between Fort Lee, New Jersey and New York City for several days, causing massive, hours-long traffic jams. It prevented people from getting to work, it prevented school buses from getting kids to school and it may have indirectly led to the death of an elderly woman that was unreachable by emergency personnel.
In the Brookley AFB closure, Johnson imposed a decades-long economic stagnation in Mobile, a city that relied heavily on the economic stimulus of having a large base within its city limits. Mobile’s economy didn’t fully recover until the 1980’s, when the base was transferred to a local airport authority. Brookley Aeroplex, as it’s now known, is a growing industrial and aerospace complex and is set to become the home of a major Airbus assembly facility.
The Jersey bridge lane closure lasted less than a week, but it still demonstrates that Christie, or people who work for him, know how to send a message.
This is decidedly un-conservative behavior, and it’s demonstrative that the bombastic Jersey Governor is no conservative. It is more consistent with the actions of Johnson, Clinton and Obama than it is with those of Reagan and the Bushes.
Conservatives don’t treat people like this, and the conservative base should be appalled by this event. While Christie has apologized and today fired those responsible, the fact that it even happened is reason enough to look elsewhere for a conservative standard-bearer for 2016. If he’d do this to a small town for the reticence of the mayor, he’d do it to the residents of a state that rebuked him, and that’s just wrong.
Conservatives believe in diversity of opinion. We believe in an honest, open debate wherein our opponents are free to oppose without fear of retribution. Non-conservatives, liberals in particular, have absolutely no stomach for a loyal opposition. Time and time again, liberals lash out at those who oppose or offend them, seeking to shut them up, shut them down, get them fired, get them back.