If you want to see a good example of partnership, collaboration, and sharing the stage, then take notice of the current interactions between President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Even though these two men are political opponents and have had their differences in the past, they are clearly demonstrating that they are capable of doing their jobs as leaders during one of the worst natural disasters in our history. And in doing so, their partnership has been a compliment to both of them.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Christie has shown genuine leadership and has publicly praised the president—the man he is hoping people vote out of office this month. But during this moment in our history, it seems that both men are putting politics aside and truly being allies. “I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and the people of our state,” Christie said after surveying the damage with the president. He later added, “When the president does things that deserve praise, I will give him praise.”
Obama, too, has publicly acknowledged Christie. “I just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership,” Obama told reporters. “He’s been aggressive in making sure that the state got out in front of this incredible storm. And I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of New Jersey bounce back even stronger than before.”
Over the past few days, these two rivals have stood no more than one foot apart, complimented each others’ leadership, and shared a common goal. Together, they have kept the focus on the victims and the first responders, never letting politics or bureaucracy get in the way.
Because of this wonderful display of collaboration, people from coast to coast are reassured and have greater confidence in the government’s ability to help in this type of crisis. In fact, I’d even say that this is a thrilling demonstration of bi-partisanship, and the fact that it’s happening on the main stage for all to see is a tribute to our democracy.
Even though these two men are very different, not only politically but also in style, tone, affect, physical presence, etc., they are bridging their difference to be one united front so they can do their jobs and help those in dire need. This show of teamwork is truly remarkable.
Granted, there is still a long road ahead for the people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy’s wrath, but these two leaders have provided what all good leaders provide in a crisis: A sense of urgency, clear direction, and inspiration, instilling confidence in all of us that we are never alone, and that democracy and politics really can work.