Psst, you ... yeah, you. I have a job offer you can't refuse.
How'd you like to hold elective office? You'll get paid a handsome salary with great benefits; have a car and driver at your disposal 24/7; be protected by a security detail; take trips to glamorous destinations to conduct "trade talks" and, to top it off, you'll receive a generous pension when you're done. Sounds good, right?
But wait, there's more! You'll be able to campaign for a new job with more prestige and power in faraway states while still collecting your full salary. Spend as much time as you'd like in those states because you're accountable to nobody (well, err, technically your constituents, but let's face it, you don't really answer to them.) And if you don't get the new plum job, you don't even have to give up your current position.
Great, pull up a chair and get ready to run for president.
Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio and other presidential candidates who currently hold elective office (I don't watch the Children's Table Debates so I don't know them all) while chasing after the presidency are ripping off their constituents as surely as if they were grabbing cash out of our wallets on the dresser at night.
Esteemed U.S. Senators Rubio and Cruz are currently in second and third place, respectively, on the list to miss the most votes in the Senate. And, just to put it into perspective, the senator in first place had a stroke and missed a year of service.
Now, let's look at Gov. Christie. I'm a New Jersey taxpayer and part owner of a small business in the state, which means I pay even more taxes to fuel Christie's limo and security detail. If he had told voters when he ran for re-election (although I think he only walked for re-election; I don't see him running for anything) that he'd be out of the state almost full time in 2015 and 2016 while still collecting a paycheck from our hard-earned tax dollars, I'm sure he would've lost the race. But, of course, he wasn't dumb enough to tip his hand. That would be a bridge too far.
On the other hand, how do you think Christie would tolerate a New Jersey state employee who said to him, "Hey, boss, I know the taxpayers expect me to do my job, but I'm going to be in Iowa and New Hampshire for most of the next year. Don't worry though, I'll call in regularly when I'm not at a steak bake or house party. Just make sure you keep that paycheck coming." I think it's safe to say Christie would fire the guy on the spot.
Is there some kind of constitutional dispensation for the egomaniacs running for president that allows them to collect a paycheck and occupy an important political office when 90 percent of their mental and physical capacity is dedicated to getting their next job? I think not.
I may seem to be picking on Christie, and maybe I am. But all of the current officeholders running for president are guilty, all taking their hard-working constituents for a ride.
My dad was a hard-working Greek immigrant diner owner in New Jersey. His diners were always open 24/7/365. I remember many a night when we'd get a call at home at midnight because a short-order cook didn't show up for his shift, and my dad would get out of bed to go cook. He had pride in his business, and he expected the same from his family. For example, if I ever saw a napkin or straw wrapper on the floor in one of his diners I'd be expected to pick it up ASAP. There was no slacking off or ignoring a task. New Jersey, like all of our states, is full of people who give their all to their jobs.
Not the governor, however.
New Jersey's so-called governor is shirking his duties, there's no two ways about it. He's walking past all of the napkins and straw wrappers littering the Garden State while chasing the brass ring of the Oval Office. The state still hasn't fully recovered from Superstorm Sandy, and now it also has the challenge of cleaning up after Jonas (also known as the Blizzard of 2016.) In addition, the casino gambling industry in New Jersey is a mess and more people move out of the state than move in. There are myriad problems in the Garden State, certainly enough to keep a governor engaged full time, but, apparently, not enough to garner a governor's attention when his eyes are on another prize. And if you read Christie's comments about prying himself away from New Hampshire to return to New Jersey for the blizzard, you'd understand that he did it begrudgingly and most likely only because he knew that remaining in New Hampshire would give him a political black eye.
I was living in Bucks County, Pa., when my business partners told me I could locate our new business anywhere I'd like. I chose Red Bank, N.J. Why? Because it's a vibrant and charming little city with easy access to New York and Philadelphia and there are plenty of talented professionals living in the area to help grow a business. It's also at the Jersey Shore with easy access to scores of wonderful beaches and natural beauty. However, I didn't realize that I'd be bringing jobs and economic stimulation to a state with a part-time governor; someone who checked out of his responsibilities to pursue his own greater glory. If he (and the other presidential candidates holding office) had any integrity, they'd resign their offices to clear the way for more engaged and focused individuals to properly serve the constituents who deserve dedicated public servants.
But that won't happen.
Congress will not pass a law requiring that officeholders resign their jobs when running for the presidency. Washington is more crooked than an NHL player's smile. Politicians protect themselves and their colleagues whenever possible, even when it comes to something as blatant as letting officeholders collect a full paycheck while clearly neglecting their jobs. Forcing candidates to relinquish their offices when pursuing another job is an idea going nowhere fast; it's progress as negligible as that of someone trying to cross the George Washington Bridge during a "traffic study." The mass of blowing air accompanying Jonas has moved off the coast into the Atlantic, while another mass of blowing air is once again leaving the Garden State for New Hampshire and Iowa.
Larry Goanos was born and raised in New Jersey and works in the commercial insurance industry. This article was edited by Lee F. Lerner.