In a slightly different way, Christie also fits this bill. Not quite the intellectual leader on these issues that Ryan is, Christie is simply a leader. Since being elected governor of Democratic New Jersey in 2009, Christie has fought for fiscal reform — particularly of New Jersey’s unsustainable public employee pension and benefit program — and achieved it.
The change he brought about was never thought to be popular. It should have been politically ruinous. But he explained to his constituents, often boisterously, the impossibility of allowing business to go on as usual. They listened. His approval rating is as high as it has ever been, with 56 percent of New Jerseyans approving of his performance and only 33 percent disapproving, according to a May poll.
Christie also has the ability, in his own very unique way, to explain why such fundamental changes to America’s entitlements are needed. Like a win for a Romney-Ryan ticket, a win for Romney-Christie would be a mandate for the type of tough change necessary to save America from fiscal ruin.
Seasoned political hands would argue that picking Ryan especially would be politically idiotic. Even though Romney has come out in favor of Ryan’s budget, tying himself closer to it by placing Ryan on the ticket would further empower liberal interest groups to demagogue the ticket as one that wants to kill orphans and old people.
But it would be an empty victory if Romney won without such a mandate for major reform. Much better to give Americans a choice and let them decide their fate — will we make difficult choices and thrive, or stick our head in the sand and decline?
Reports suggest that Romney could make his VP selection early, possibly even next week. Let’s hope he makes the politically risky, but necessary, decision to signal that this race is about change — and not the ephemeral and ill-defined change of 2008 Obama, but real change. Change that is painful and difficult, but necessary and ultimately rewarding. The type of change we need to keep America thriving economically and militarily atop of the world stage as far as the eye can see.