As the northeastern section of the United States begins to dig out from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a surprising byproduct of the disaster has been the pronounced bipartisanship from many political leaders that only days before were attacking each other.
I’m not talking about the Romney and Obama campaigns trading barbs. I’m talking about the direct comments from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama.
Both leaders seemed to understand the gravity of the moment and quickly put aside politics to do whatever it took address the situation.
While most expected both the Romney and Obama campaigns to take breaks from events, I’m not sure if many expected public bipartisanship from the man who delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention and the President of the United States.
Governor Chris Christie publicly thanked President Obama for his assistance during the crisis and President Obama gave Christie credit for handling the emergencies in New Jersey.
The fact that these two leaders would be able to understand the situation and have the appropriate priorities is not a surprise. It’s been a contentious election season, but it’s not like we are dealing with people incapable of being human beings.
But the surprising part is how these reactions may affect voters looking at other elected leaders during the final week of the election season.
One, it has shown that people on opposite ends of the political aisle can indeed come together to solve a problem, if the problem is big enough and the goal is important enough. I have to imagine that more than one American has noticed that right at the zenith of the election, a very prominent Democrat and very prominent Republican were able to work well together.
Imagine if Congress held this same attitude when addressing the federal budget deficit. Gone would be the Continuing Resolutions that simply prolong the inevitable. Back would be actual progress on an issue that could cost Americans even more in the long run than the devastating damage that Hurricane Sandy has caused.
Another facet of this sudden bipartisanship is that it provided a glimpse of what some voters may have wanted to see all along, the ability for elected leaders from different political parties to work together. While everyone wants their side to win, if they truly want to see anything accomplished, all of us need our elected leaders to work together. That need gets forgotten during most election seasons.
But Hurricane Sandy has given all of us a reminder that maybe issues in thirty second ads aren’t really what matters, but the ability to work together on important issues is what really counts.
As the nation comes together to help our fellow citizens on the East Coast recover from this historic storm, it will be interesting to see how some of these public examples of bipartisanship affect our own behavior. Will it matter whose sign you have in your yard when you and your neighbor come together to help raise funds for displaced families in New Jersey?
If it doesn’t matter when doing something important, then how much does it really matter when dealing with other issues?
Discovering the answer to that question might be a surprising and productive byproduct of this disaster.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.