The firestorm over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staff closing the world busiest bridge as political playback has ignited discussion over his political future. Surviving scandal has become a pastime for many in public office and until the public uses these events to begin discerning what they say about an individual’s core values, we will continue to see rampant misbehavior among our elected officials
We may never know if Governor Christie ordered the lane closures, was aware of it and turned a blind eye or was truly caught by surprise. What we can do is access two key components of what this situation reveals about his leadership:
- Reflections: We are a reflection of the people around us and vice versa. The mere fact that members of his staff would conceive of such an idea, let alone act on it is telling. When politics trumps service to those you are entrusted lead and government officials knowingly participate in an activity that caused havoc in the lives of thousands of people, the moral compass of the group, and its leader, is off—period.
- Words and Deeds: Everyone deserves to learn from mistakes and use difficult situations as a catalyst for growth; I am no fan of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Governor Christie has a record of working from the center and a willingness to serve the practical not always the political. Many would argue that his leadership reflects his aspirations for higher office and I am sure that it does. The question before Christie now is if he is going to use this debacle as impetus to truly become a better leader or if he is going to see it as a need for more clever political shenanigans in the future.
Whatever Christie does, ultimately it is up to us, the public, to do our part and closely examine if our elected officials are truly walking their talk or if they are hoping to talk fast enough that we will become bored and focus our attention elsewhere. Ultimately, if we want better leaders, we need to become better citizens.