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The New Jersey traffic scandal and 2016

By Scott Tibbs, January 14, 2014

My vote for President in 2016 may well hinge on what happens over the next few days, weeks and months as the New Jersey traffic scandal continues to develop. Specifically, I will not vote for Chris Christie for President if he was involved in the plans to destroy traffic flow on the George Washington Bridge and snarl traffic to a halt in the city of Fort Lee, New Jersey as part of some petty and childish political retribution scheme.

Of course, all of this depends on whether or not he is guilty, and I have seen no evidence that Christie is guilty.

If Christie simply had some rogue staff members who were acting independently of him, and if Christie was not involved in the scandal and had no prior knowledge of the plan, I will have no problem voting for him in 2016 should he be the GOP nominee for President. That said, Christie does need to make sure his staff knows they are on a short leash and this sort of nonsense will not be tolerated. He also needs to implement ethical reforms to ensure that this does not happen again.

But if Christie is guilty, this is a deal-breaker. I cannot in good conscience use my vote or my voice to help someone who is that dangerously corrupt become President of these United States.

This bridge scandal has massive implications for evaluating Christie's character and how he would behave as President. Someone who would snarl traffic on the bridge and snarl traffic in an entire city for political revenge - impeding emergency vehicles and putting lives at risk - should not be anywhere near the office of President.

The power of the President is too great and the potential for abuse is too frightening to allow a dangerously corrupt individual to become President. Someone who would put lives at risk with such a childish move is exactly the kind of person who would use the power of the President (including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to name only two agencies) to illegally harass and punish political enemies.

Some would say that there is such a thing as losing on principle. But if Christie is guilty, it would not be a victory to see him elected. In that case, we lose whether we have Chris Christie or a Democrat as President.

As far as my office of Precinct Committeeman, Christie is not a candidate for any office right now and he certainly is not the Republican nominee for President. Therefore, I am not breaking party rules by conditionally opposing him. (Again, I have seen no evidence that he's guilty, and if he is innocent this is irrelevant.) If Christie does run, he can expect harsh criticism in the primary.

The question for me, if Christie is guilty, will come in January 2016 when the filing opens for precinct committeeman.

If Christie is guilty and has a strong chance of being the nominee, I will need to decide whether or not I will openly oppose him. If I decide I need to openly oppose him, I will not run for re-election as precinct committeeman in the 2016 primary election. It is inappropriate for a party officer to openly oppose Republican candidates in the general election.

The other option is for me to remain silent and not support him in any way, which is permissible and would allow me to serve as a PC if the voters of my precinct are gracious enough to elect me to a second term. I would help other Republicans, but would do absolutely nothing for Christie. Of course, that would be the case whether I am a PC or not - the question is whether I will need to openly oppose him.

The bottom line here is that principle must trump party, and on principle I cannot support any Republican who is corrupt. I am not a hyperpartisan, and I absolutely despise hyperpartisan hypocrisy. It is despicable and reprehensible for political hacks to defend corrupt politicians simply because that person is in the same political party. I am not a Republican because I want to blindly see anyone with an "R" beside his or her name get elected, even if that person is dangerously corrupt and prone to abuse his power. That is the behavior of someone in a cult, not someone who is serious about politics and good public policy.