08/27/2012 05:25 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2012

Christie in Keynote Can Seize the Moment to Set a New Course for GOP -- and Country

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was recently designated by the Republican National Committee to give the Keynote Address at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Much of the focus on Christie giving this address so far has centered on how this opportunity will raise his political stature as a national Republican leader -- and as a 2016 Presidential contender if Romney loses -- much like the keynote speech given by then Illinois Senator Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention which instantly elevated his political stature and notoriety to allow him to seek the presidency four years later.

Traditionally, a keynote speech at a political convention is a message that outlines a vision of its presidential candidate and sets the tone for the party's agenda during an election year.

But in 2012, Christie can, and should, do more.

By presenting a new, free-thinking vision for a new GOP promoting inclusion, political collaboration to resolve important issues, tolerance and enlightened thought (as recently advocated by Jeb Bush), Christie has an historic opportunity to make the speech the single identifiable turning point for the GOP and American politics in this century

In order to regenerate the U.S. economic system and restore the American people's spirit and belief in their country, our national leaders must first repair confidence in a broken political party system dominated by extremists in both major parties who disdain political compromise and instead encourage dysfunction and total adherence to unworkable and outdated political, economic and religious dogma.

Christie's choice as keynote speaker was a recognition of an understanding by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and the party leadership of that need -- and the necessity to emphasize a new breed of GOP leaders in statehouses in New Jersey, Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio that have records of advocating smaller government and attacking waste, while working at the same time with opposition leaders to balance budgets and to bring spending under control.

The picking of economic wonk Paul Ryan as VP candidate reaffirmed that recognition of the need to realign the branding of the GOP away from a party of social intolerance toward one whose sole emphasis is on economic and government reform, military superiority and the restoration of the middle-class and the American dream.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, one third of voters are independents and "... one clear factor that separates them from Democrats and Republicans is a near-uniform call for greater cross-party cooperation. Seven in 10 independents say they favor compromise between the parties rather than confrontation, according to the survey. Just as many say they are dissatisfied with the country's political system."

That's not true of just independents, but also a silent majority in the GOP, whether they be moderates, Ron Paul libertarians, tea party adherents and even some social conservatives -- and even Reagan Democrats -- all fed up with political dysfunction and the resulting crippling effects of the failure of the two-party system in their daily lives.

The truly idiotic assertion by Rep. Todd Akin over the weekend that a woman's body will reject a pregnancy from rape -- and his refusal to back out of his senatorial race in Missouri even as his statement continued to cause huge damage to Romney and other GOP candidates -- clearly illustrates the terrible disconnect of the social conservative right that has driven both moderates and independent voters, and women, too away from the GOP.

The extremely harsh reaction to Akin's statement by most (and even Rush Limbaugh) illustrates that the time is ripe to grab the party back from domination by out of touch, intolerant, southern social conservatives like Akin.

Christie, who has already proven in New Jersey that he knows what it takes to execute real change -- and seize the moment in Tampa to do so -- is the right guy, in the right place, at the right time to expound a new vision, a new message, and a new political contract to the American people -- and to make the GOP politically viable to the American people once again.

Follow Steven Kurlander, who writes a regular column in The Sun Sentinel and in Florida Voices, on his blog at You can email him at