For a few minutes, let’s return to the past, specifically 1981. Thirty-seven years ago, we eagerly embraced what was then considered cutting-edge. Decked out in acid wash jeans and Aqua Net feathered bangs, Rick Springfield and Kool and the Gang topped the music charts and, thanks to the newly released Sony Walkman II finally music could be listened to on the go.
We eagerly bought it. For those who wanted to take pictures in a simpler way without having to manually adjust a heavy lens, the first autofocus camera was released. We eagerly bought it. The emerging interest in home computers led to IBM’s release of the 5.25-inch floppy disk to store 360 kilobytes. We eagerly bought it. For speed and convenience, the landline telephone now sported the hot option of push buttons rather than rotary dial. We eagerly bought it. All of those things were new, cutting edge, and promised to inject positive change toward the way we lived.
The year 1981 was also the same year that Chris Smith was elected to Congress. At that time, he promised to offer solutions to New Jersey’s challenges. We bought into it.
That was 37 years ago. That’s nearly two generations ago. Most of us can agree that we have moved forward since 1981. Our fashion is better, our options for how we listen to music is better, our cameras better, our computers better, and our phones better. We have evolved in our tastes and expectations.
Imagine if we voted to remain with what we chose to support back in 1981? It seems absurd that while technology has advanced, fourth district voters are stuck with a Congressman from 1981. Imagine if instead of embracing the new and realizing that there were better options—our iPhone and Androids, snapping sleek selfies and storing it all in the cloud—we had just ignored the progress and held onto that same clunky Walkman, oversized camera, and floppy disk?
In 1981, would we ever have voted a person into a seemingly lifelong appointment just because we initially believed him and over the decades he amassed enough money to have isolated himself in a DC fortress so that he wouldn’t have to hear from his New Jersey constituents? Don’t we deserve better?
We need an update.
Chris Smith had his chance. He failed.
During Chris Smith’s 37-year reign in New Jersey, our state is now on CNBC’s top 10 most expensive states to live in America. Under Chris Smith’s watch, college tuition has increased nearly 260% percent. As far as housing, according to CNBC, New Jersey’s average of nearly $1,800 per month to rent an apartment in the Garden State has blocked many millennials from living and starting businesses, and, with the onerous distinction of paying the highest property tax rate in America, many current New Jersey homeowners can no longer continue to live in the home in which they raised their children.
Where is the progress in any of that? And why would Chris Smith, the equivalent of antiquated technology, be allowed to remain in office? According to the Asbury Park Press, the last time Chris Smith held an in-person public town hall to meet with his New Jersey constituents was 25 years ago. Smith’s archaic views on the rights of LGBTQ New Jerseyans and women’s health care rights still match the outdated opinions of thirty-seven years ago. New Jersey has progressed.
New Jersey has moved forward. Smith hasn’t. He’s still stuck where he was in 1981, following the same antiquated views. Smith’s inability to even attempt to listen to the families that he supposedly represents demonstrates that he is as obsolete, irrelevant, and incompatible as the floppy disk is today.