As revelations of Chris Christie's "bridge-gate" mischief come to light, speculation abounds on whether this will harm his political career. Other diarists and commenters have offered their thoughts, and I'll let them cover that aspect of this unfolding debacle.
This single incident beautifully illustrates the contempt with which the GOP holds their constituents, little people who - evidently - can be put into one of two categories: "my" supporters or "my opponent's" supporters. The former are to be rewarded; the latter punished. In real life, most people don't vote, and they aren't anyone's "supporters". They are, however, someone's parent or child, employer or employee, customer, friend, or neighbor. In short, real people, just trying to hold up their bit of the sky and look after their families, their home, and their jobs.
In our mobile society, many of these folks spend time in a car heading to or from their jobs, the doctor's office, the store, their kids' activities, their duties as caregivers to their elderly parents. They volunteer, filling the many gaps in a social safety net being ripped to shreds by those desperate to appease the already-rich. Their days are spent juggling the expectations of children, spouses, and other family members, their employers, their communities, and - usually at the end of this list - their own health and wellbeing.
Chris Christie probably has the resources available to outsource most of these functions. This allows him to devote his energies where they will have the most impact (and bring him the most joy): punishing those who have dared to oppose him.
As in any decent Greek tragedy, the protagonist need not be truly "evil". Indeed, it's best if they embody some positive traits that would destine them for greatness and elevate them in the eyes of all around them. It makes for a much better story if they have just one little character flaw that leads to their undoing; one vulnerability to which they will eventually succumb. Hopefully, this process rolls along at a slow enough pace that the protagonist's detractors, the Cassandras whose warnings went unheeded, can bask in well-deserved schadenfreude.
Before we break out the popcorn, however, let's go back to those folks in the cars on the bridge. They might include:
A mother or father, desperately trying to get to the day-care provider before closing time to pick up their child
An employee, realizing that their tardiness in arriving for their shift at work will likely result in being fired
A surgeon whose specialized skill is needed for a delicate life-saving operation at a local hospital
A volunteer who was scheduled to deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly veterans
A public defender expected in court to explain their client's situation and keep them out of jail
A contractor heading to a job site to make critical repairs to our crumbling public infrastructure
While each of these vehicle occupants is essential in the life of "someone", that "someone" is clearly not Chris Christie. The only person in his calculations is Barbara Buono who, through the proxy suffering of her supposed "supporters", will feel genuine - and deserved - pain. It's a simple, zero-sum game for Christie and his GOP associates: for me to feel happiness, you need to feel pain.
The pain, however, falls on the non-combatants, those who pay their taxes, obey the law, and honor their personal commitments. Their lives are inconvenienced at best, put in risk of fatality at worst.
It's nothing personal, some politicians assure us, as they slip the knife between our ribs with the practiced grace of a fishmonger. It's just business. Their business. The business of meting out punishment, filling the void in their lives by tearing a void in ours.
The coming months will reveal whether this petty vendetta damages Christie in New Jersey or derails his ambitions for national office, or whether it further endears him to supporters. What's clear now is this: he's the prototypical GOP bully who will casually endanger those he has sworn to protect, and will relish the pain that he imagines that he's inflicted on his enemy-du-jour. The collateral damage of disruption of tens of thousands of people's lives in the process? Priceless!