Old America vs. new America: Chris Christie and the Lost Cause Conservatives

Is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the Republicans’ Bill Clinton, Chris Cillizza asks in his Washington Post column on Friday. But is it humanly possible for conservatives to think beyond 2016? Or, as Cillizza suggests here, must they pretend it is 1992 all over again? 

ADVERTISEMENT
For the Christie crowd, there is something coming. It hasn’t happened yet. It hasn’t even begun yet. But for these people, it is much like it was for Faulkner’s 14-year old boy who could conjure “not once, but whenever he wants it” that instant when it is still not yet Jan. 20 in 1993 when George H.W. Bush was still president of the United States. Here is their Pickett’s Charge, for when they say “Chris Christie” they mean former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) as well, just as Mitt Romney listed them together in The Hill on Sunday. For establishment conservatives like the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes, both names form together on the tongue. They have since Christie first appeared on New Jersey’s rusting, impoverished, indebted and dangerous post-industrial horizon.

But this is the core issue below, and how do Christie/Bush and their New York billionaire bundlers address it?

This Sunday on “The McLaughlin Group,” commentator Pat Buchanan suggested that heading into 2016 there is a division between the “establishment” and the “populist” movement, an apparent reference to the contemporary hoot which is the Tea Party. Proposed here that this is actually the rowdy awakening — as all movement beginnings are rowdy — of people and economy heading west post-war from the Northeast. It has created a new cultural, economic and political paradigm, and a fundamentally different and newer America.

The difference today of establishment vs. populism, or passing generation (McCain/Graham) vs. rising generation (Paul/Cruz) could better be understood as a shift from old America (Kennedy/Bush) to new America (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann) with Christie leading the Lost Cause Conservatives in their Pickett’s Charge on behalf of old America.

Because there is a vast cultural and economic difference between places like Boston and New Jersey, which were settled and evolved here for 500 years and were eyed by the adventurous since Henry and Anne Boleyn squabbled and Virginia was named after their daughter. Texas was barely settled in the 1880s and carries little European interest and baggage. It is born free in the desert. And Utah, the Mountain states, the plains and California fall into this same purview.

The contentions which are risen today are essentially between new and old America, much as those in 1776 were between new and old England.

To hear the National Review crowd talk post-war history, it appears to run Churchill, Reagan, Bush I and II. Real-life observers might instead consider Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan as the great conservative influences. It is they, two Californians and a Texan, who naturally emerged in American leadership as demographics led us west.

The rising Christie/Bush paradigm is an attempt to walk it back across the desert to New York, New Jersey and the East, but fate does not serve well those who turn back.