Rising From the Depths in the name of Bipartisanship

Seaside Heights, NJ Halloween 2012

Reporting from Montclair, New Jersey (which did not get hit as hard as Seaside Heights, shown above):

On my run this morning, the cold sushine revealed huge trees, uprooted, having ripped out yards and yards of pavement.  Yellow police tape draped over dangling power lines, neighbors and dogwalkers, grateful to see one another, embracing, bonding over the no-power experience, laughing with the relief of having survived to see the sunrise.  We’re all managing to stay in touch somehow, finding friends in corners of town with power, who invite us to a “charging-up” get together:  bring your devices, a load of laundry: enjoy a cup of hot coffee, a few hours of heat.  Last night we stayed with friends–which is how I’m able to post this.  On my run, I went to our street to see if PSE&G had turned anything on.  No.  Only the loud hum of someone’s back up generator.

Rumor has it that school won’t be in session until Monday at the earliest.  Though Tuesday is election day–hence no school–and Thursday and Friday are the NJEA teachers conferences, AKA no school.

The kids have been great.  Up at their usual hour, playing with legos, building forts out of the living room furniture, gathering with the kids on the block to scooter around the cul de sac.  They’re all cautioned to STAY OUT OF THE BACK YARDS, many of which are full of downed powerlines.  They listen.  The smallest ones don’t go out without adult supervision anyway.

My friend and I have been ignoring the guidelines about dairy products in non-working refrigerators and using our milk anyway.  It’s still cold–how would it get warm when our homes are cold?–and it smells fine, so we drink and serve it.  Ditto the yogurt.  (Not so the eggs, of course.)

There is a spirit of good will all around, the way disaster often brings people together.  We may be on opposite sides of a contentious election season, but I have extra batteries to share and you’ve just helped move those branches off my driveway and we’ll both write checks for hurricane relief as soon as the postal service resumes.  What we are is human and in this together.  Our hearts break when we hear the stories of people who have lost everything in the floods or fires, the young couple out walking their dog, crushed and killed by a fallen tree.  We do not care whether they were Democrats or Republicans.  We don’t care whether they supported Romney or Obama.

Disaster teaches us to value what we have, to treasure what matters most and to appreciate one another.    The only way to survive, and rebuild in the aftermath is for us all to come together and put aside our differences.

The fact that New Jersey Governer Chris Christie and President Obama have done just this, sets an example for the rest of the country and makes me proud to be an American.  The press is billing this the Jersey “Bromance.”   To me, they’re a little like the Odd Couple: Obama, neat, reserved, fit, if a little too lean these days: Christie: with his shoot-from-the-hip bluster, a bigger-than-life persona and voice to match.  Call the relationship what you will, it is so gratifying after all the partisan us-versus-them mentality of the campaigns, to see these two together, on the same team.  All over the internet are photographs of the Governor and the President shaking hands, sharing a laugh, deep in conversation (where it appears they’re listening to one another), joining in group hugs with citizens whose lives and livlihoods have been compromised by the storm.

Chris Christie, President Obama and FEMA Administrator, W. Craig Fugate (far left) greeting some of my fellow New Jerseyans.

As they tour the state, investigating Sandy’s damage, they have put aside their differences and praised one another, forging a positive working relationship that has some scratching their heads, others breathing a sigh of relief.

Since Obama’s election in 2008, there have been plenty of Republican politicians and pundits whose first priority has been to make him a “One Term President.”  We have just a few days left to see whether or not they have succeeded in making Obama look bad at the expense of the country.  One thing is clear: Chris Christie–despite having been a harsh critic of the president’s in the recent past–is not playing their game, or any other frankly.  He is trying to save his state and the hardworking people in it–as well he should–and to do so, is welcoming the participation of the federal government.  A big faux pas for a Republican possibly seeking higher office come 2016?  Maybe, but I suspect Christie doesn’t care.  I also suspect, and hope, that the average American respects the common-sense joining of forces for the greater good more than petty party loyalty.

There is no doubt that Hurricane Sandy has wreaked havoc on our area, leaving untold tragedy in her wake.  But let there be a sliver of a silver lining to the pain.  As the tristate area cleans up, re-starts and revives, let’s all take a moment to asknowledge the American values of cooperation and partnership.

14 responses to “Rising From the Depths in the name of Bipartisanship

  1. Thanks, Lisa, for filling us in, on the ground reporting, and for emphasizing the American– no, the human–spirit of cooperation, and our innate quality of empathy. It is the latter virtue, empathy, or altruism, that enemies of democracy attack. They turn us against one another. What we salvage from this disaster is how it brings us together. We learn when we relearn. Experience is the great teacher that moneyed extremists subvert. Their ad men work against this tide. Your blog recalls and restates our humanity, day by day. Thanks. Steve

  2. What a powerful post — and an inside look at what you and so many millions are experiencing there.

    I also really like what Steve wrote.


    Stay warm!

    It’s hard to imagine in fog and snow locked Calgary where heat keeps me warm and light keeps me seeing through the night that you are suffering through what you are enduring. Amazing.

  3. Thanks, Louise. Just keep posting those beautiful photos of Calgary on your blogs to get us all through the gloom! 🙂

  4. Lisa, I love your positivity and how you see the silver lining in this situation. I just see new images of the storm’s devastation and it breaks my heart to see how people have lost their homes. I can’t even imagine how painful it must be to have to start from scratch. Nevertheless, the important thing is to be alive. I hope you and your loved ones will soon recover from this.

    • I do feel the same way, Bella. The silver lining in no way diminishes the suffering. We are not among those hardest hit at all; just a little inconvenience. No power or school until further notice they’re saying now.

  5. Thank you Lisa for reminding us of our humanity despite our differences. So glad you and your family are safe.

  6. Lisa, Thank you for sharing your story. I believe Chris Christie is being sincere when he lauds the president. I know how some are suspicious, but that just reflects on them and how they’d be in such a situation. I can tell Christie speaks from the heart. He grew up in NJ and loves it dearly. Not just because he’s governor, but because it represents his childhood, and the feels from childhood trump everything else. That’s why I wrote my post. So I know he is sincere about wanting to help the state and appreciate what Obama has done to help him.

  7. Thanks, Monica. I too believe in Christie’s sincerety. Just something I feel. Though I may not agree with his politics in other ways, right now I really feel as if he is there for us, leading the state through this.

  8. Pingback: Heroes in our midst « A Year of Making A Difference

  9. I’m glad to hear that you and everyone else are safe. Sounds like recovery might take awhile since winter coming on board soon, will slow down the recovery/clean-up process.

    Meanwhile we wonder when VAncouver BC will get hit with an earthquake..and it’s going to happen. Whether in our lifetime or not…there have been off-shore rumblings in the past few wks.

  10. Hi Lisa, I transferred my site platform so I lost connection with a few followers. I decided to visit a few blogs this morning and I read yours. Wow, amazing to read some of the east coast perspective on Sandy! I do hope you are still doing fine at this point…. and that clean up and recovery has progressed in your state. Hoping for the best to everyone on your side of the country 🙂

    Btw… when we went through the Great Blackout last year here in Southern Cali… we drank our milk next day(stayed in the fridge, closed for a day) too… it was all fine 🙂 Best wishes! – Dorothy

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