On November 7, Democrat nominee Phil Murphy was elected governor of New Jersey, replacing the hated outgoing governor Chris Christie. Democratic Party politicians rejoiced, as did many who were relieved to see anyone other than Christie in the governor’s mansion. However, Murphy and his brand of politics offer no remedy for the deep crisis facing poor and working people in the state.
Winning 55 percent of votes, Murphy promised: “Together we’ll end the failed status quo in Trenton by creating a stronger, fairer economy that works for every New Jersey family.” His promise includes raising $1.3 billion in taxes on corporations and high-income earners, to legalize marijuana, to add state revenue to schools and transportation, health care, and property tax relief. Many of these measures are indeed progressive, but the lack of details in Murphy’s program as well as his own personal background call this into question.
Phil Murphy is a member of the capitalist class — he is a Goldman Sachs retired senior director and multi-millionaire. He was appointed Ambassador to Germany under the Obama administration, a post traditionally used as a payoff for high-powered campaign donors.
Murphy was able to outspend his opponent, Kim Guadagno, more than 3-to-1, spending about 3.2 million dollars as opposed to Murphy’s nearly $10 million. It is important however to not overlook the influence of big money in his election. On top of all this, Guadagno was tied to the failed Governor Chris Christie — she never never stood much of a chance.
If enough pressure is applied by independent, people’s movements, progressive reforms can be won. However, time and again history has shown that waiting for a Democratic Party politician to do the right thing is a losing strategy. For instance, under Barack Obama’s presidency, wealth inequality increased, banks were bailed out and immigration detention and deportation skyrocketed despite promises to the contrary. Under Murphy, just like under Christie, we will need to mobilize and fight for our rights.