Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick's Speech Before the New Jersey Assembly at its January 2016 Re-Organization
Mr. Speaker, Majority Leader Greenwald, Conference Leader Rible, WHIP Rumana, distinguished guests and my fellow New Jerseyans; Happy 2016 to everyone.
Today I will guarantee on thing about New Jersey’s political future: it will not be boring. Whether we are productive, well, that is not so clear. On that note, I have serious concerns about our country and our state. It appears that politics and policy seem to be drifting further and further apart.
Politics appears to be our national pastime. Every word and every moment is dissected under a microscope. The discussion has gone from someone’s hair to even the heals on their boots. Yet, the discussion of public policy not as much; and I conclude that policy is just not that interesting, not very entertaining and, therefore, doesn’t drive ratings very well.
Politics has gone from the art of statesmanship to an arena of insults, ridicule and showmanship; and the very concept of being a statesman, respecting the other sides’ position, and treating opponents with respect is no longer a cherished part of the American landscape, and that should be very troublesome for all of us.
And the rhetoric, on both sides of the aisle, or even in the press – even when speaking about a president or a governor – is done with such disdain and disrespect that it is offensive to the office itself. Whether we are talking about Barack Obama or Chris Christie let’s keep in mind that they occupy an office in our government that deserves basic respect and basic decency, and this needs to stop.
If you have a problem with their policies so be it, but the hateful rhetoric is repugnant to most of New Jersey and our country. If you are a Republican and hate all Democrats, or a Democrat that hates all Republicans, you have no business being in public office. Our job is to address serious policy issues, and if your vision is so clouded with partisanship, you stand in the way of solving the most pressing issues facing our state.
And to my friends in the media, sometimes there is no story, no angle, no bad faith, and maybe no politics; there just may be legitimate policy differences.
I do understand simply comparing the underlying policy differences is boring and will not win any awards, but it just might be the right thing to do. Journalism is an art and it should be treated that way. My friends in the media, you should not be co-conspirators in creating an atmosphere of distrust and divisiveness; that does not serve the common good. And if you see a campaign that wrongly attacks the character of a candidate and fails to address the real issues, call that campaign out on their tactics.
I submit and I am convinced that most New Jerseyans wants us to govern from the middle. That means compromise between the ideas of the Democrats and the Republicans. The loudest voice, the most powerful boss or the richest PAC does not and will never reflect the view of most New Jerseyans.
Now let me address public policy itself. To the speaker, you are a friend and we have worked together well , but I am still the voice of the minority and it is my job to articulate the differences between your caucus and mine, and we certainly have some.
We will stand up against using the constitution as a legislative tool to avoid the veto of a governor. We will strongly oppose unfair redistricting plans that make New Jersey a one party state and we will clearly express our concerns about the costs of living or dying in New Jersey and, once again, I respectfully ask that our 80 reform bills be posted for a vote so New Jersey sees clearly where each member stands on real reform. Let’s agree today to make New Jersey a state where we can afford to live, work, retire and die.
My caucus members and I will continue to advocate for smaller government, less government and lower taxes. We will always rely on the individual over the government. We have the confidence that if you give New Jerseyans the opportunity to succeed and get government out of their pocket and off their back, New Jersey will succeed.
The creative, entrepreneurial and generous spirit of the people of this state is the most effective path for success.