Thursday, October 25, 2007

Genuine Leadership—A Pipe Dream?

As Governor Corzine’s tenure continues, it is becoming more and more apparent that he is realizing his vision of a fiscally responsible and ethical government will not come to fruition during either his current term or a second term, should he seek one. He took office thinking that his vast bank account would enable him to be independent and allow him to lead without owing anyone anything. It appears that he has come to realize that despite his bank account, the recalcitrant politicians in Trenton are reluctant to advance any reform that will cut them off from the public trough. Therefore, Governor Corzine’s reform agenda depends on Assemblymen and State Senators. As a result, his thoughtful ideas stand little chance of passage. For the greater good, Governor Corzine could bring about the kind of change he alleges he would like to see happen. However, he would have to forgo a second term, be willing to make lifelong enemies, and conceivably use some of his own assets. In short, the Governor would have to exhibit what many consider to be selfless genuine leadership. To that end, the following are some suggestions:

After the November election, Governor Corzine should first announce that he will not seek another term. Then he should declare war against all politicians living off the taxpayers, including double-dipping pension padders, those who use their office to benefit their outside business, and foes of meaningful reform. He should, instead, support a slate of reform candidates in both the 2009 Democratic and Republican Primaries. Using his vast resources, he could utilize every law on the books to infiltrate selectively chosen heavily-Democratic and Republican districts where a well-funded challenger could defeat the incumbent. He could then raise funds to recruit a full slate of Democratic or Republican committeepeople in every municipality in each such district. He should publicly endorse the slate of reform candidates and campaign with them and develop a team of genuine leaders from across the political spectrum which would stump throughout the state where they could most make an electoral difference. Likewise, in those same districts, he should actively attempt to oust all foes of reform in the County Party that is home to the district and fund credible challengers.

A well-thought out campaign with a blank check could result in the ouster of ten to twenty-five percent of the Legislature, creating enough votes within that body (when uniting with other reform-minded Democrats and Republicans) to enact the reforms the Governor would like to see implemented. At that point, with a year left in his tenure, Governor Corzine could truly reform New Jersey politics and leave behind a lasting positive legacy.

A pipe dream? Probably. But what an inspiring and exciting campaign it would be!

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of, is an attorney who resides in New Providence, New Jersey. He currently serves as the Chairman of the New Providence Democratic Party and as Editor of The Alternative Press Contact Mike at