Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Gregoris Kalai Headshot

Is Chris Christie Frank Underwood?

Posted: Updated:

2014-01-08-chrischristie.png

As evidence surfaces around allegations that Chris Christie had played a significant role in choking traffic to a small town in New Jersey as political payback against the town's mayor, the public has gotten a rare glimpse into the mind of one of America's most popular and high-profile politicians.

It is rare for a Republican to cross party lines and compromise with Democrats in the way that Christie has done. Because of the obstructionist practices of the Republican Party and its Tea Party wing, people welcomed Christie's actions with open arms. One CNN poll even predicted that Christie may very well be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. Although it is too early to foreshadow such a thing, it is clear (assuming the recent allegations are true) that Chris Christie has put his personal interest ahead of the people he is employed to serve.

This very characteristic rings similar to a character in the critically acclaimed House of Cards: Frank Underwood. Frank is a man who loves power, and is willing to do anything to gain more of it. Such a thirst for power and a disregard for other people in the process works well in the short term. Although as I am sure we are about to see in the coming seasons, this very thirst could be what ends Frank's political career. Politics is framed in House of Cards in a very Machiavellian way -- with politicians seeming concerned with ends rather than means. Though it is one thing to have that portrayed in a TV show and a completely different thing when it takes place in real life.

When a public official acts in a way that is against the interests of his citizens, the issue errs on the side of wrongdoing. Although shutting down two lanes on a bridge may not seem like a big deal (albeit the busiest bridge in the world), it goes on to show that the man behind this action is a bully. This does not mean that he is a bad person or does not mean well -- it just goes to show that he is not afraid to use his position to push people around to get what he wants.

Some might argue that President Obama could use some of these traits and ought to be more assertive. While that sounds nice theoretically, a real leader according to Simon Sinek is one that "eats last" and puts his constituents' interests before his own -- every single time.

It is too early to assess the magnitude of the allegations towards Chris Christie and his aides, their repercussions for 2016 and beyond. What is dangerous for Christie though is that the political narrative around his name will be surrounded by negative stigma. Past incidents of public anger and outrage will begin to resurface and will be used to construct an image of Christie that is angry, vindictive and bully-like (regardless of whether or not that is the case).

Frank Underwood may have gotten what he wanted because he knows how to push and intimidate people. That very trait could be behind the fall of Chris Christie.