There will be no Liberty in New Jersey this weekend. Liberty State Park is closed.
The New Jersey state owned gateway to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty will not be open during the Independence Day weekend, leaving surprised travelers wondering what to do. The closing of Liberty State Park and many other state beaches, facilities, and services, came after the government shutdown announced by Gov. Chris Christie on the eve of the busiest weekend of the summer.
The Fat Cat governor made the determination to close all “non-essential” state services beginning at midnight on Friday. He blamed the closings on legislative bickering and a budget impasse, but also revealed that his family would be spending the holiday at a beach that the state has closed to the public.
Police and park personnel turned away visitors to Island Beach State Park, but the state also maintains and owns a residence there, which is typically used by the governor. When asked if it was appropriate for his family to use the park and facilities while the public could not, Christie’s reply summed up the growing oligarchical attitude of U.S. politicians.
In the ultimate, I represent me and not you, statement, Christie arrogantly told reporters, “The governor has a residence at Island Beach. That’s the way it goes. Run for governor and you can have the residence.”
For the 20-plus million residents of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, that means that the July Fourth holiday weekend will be more headaches and less barbeques. With New Jersey state parks and beaches closed, and the only access to the Statue of Liberty at Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park, Christie delivered an unambiguous N.J. Turnpike salute to residents, voters, and visitors who planned to make the Jersey Shore their weekend destination.
That a one-time cohort of Donald Trump has disrupted family vacations and unleashed chaos on the hub of the east coast seems like an aptly ironic allegory for all America. Christie’s callous disregard for the working families of New Jersey deserving of their vacations is representative of the attitude that is consuming American politics.
The political games playing out in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals across the nation are self-serving popularity contests that no longer encompass the value of public service. It is no wonder that representatives are avoiding town hall meetings during the current congressional recess — none of them cares what residents have to say.
Federal and state leaders invest more leadership time attempting to accomplish personal goals than they do for their constituents. Special interests, SuperPACs, and deep-pocketed lobbyists distract even local politicians from focusing on the fundamental basics of their offices. Even as former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) retired from Washington this week, he pushed for a $2,500 stipend for his colleagues.
Lost in the emerging power-centric government model are average Americans. Where we once described our nation’s society in terms of the upper, middle, and lower class model, today that concept is virtually obsolete. America is witnessing the advent of a modern feudal class system comprised of pseudo-representatives, corporate rich, and the struggling.
For the overwhelming majority of Americans outside the governing class and ultra-rich one-percenters, the rules and regulations are increasingly burdensome. Moreover, the rewards of being citizens in a fading democracy are fewer and farther between. We are paying more for laws we want even less.
The trend is disconcerting — at both the state and federal levels — and is creating widespread dissent as the public becomes more incensed at not having open roads, bridges, parks…or vacations. A new national nightmare is haunting families everywhere. After Trump, and Christie, and the rest of our so-called leaders have finished with the United States, not even Obamacare will be able to revive the American Dream, and it will be a miracle if liberty remains accessible to anyone except the Chris Christies on their private state-owned islands.