Over the course of 18 minutes tonight, Chris Christie laid out the plans for his second term as the governor of New Jersey after claiming more than 60 percent of the vote. In his biggest one-liner of the night, he said almost directly into the camera, "I sought a second term to finish the job, now watch me do it." That job is to demonstrate what a functional government looks like. For Christie, it's not Democrats versus Republicans; it's New Jersey versus the rest of the country.
But then again, that persecution-complex attitude isn't new at all. There was a self-deprecation to Christie's speech that tapped into the persisting, national assumptions about the state—that it's the armpit of America, that it's polluted, that it's filled with Jersey Shore rejects, and that anyone who wasn't a Jersey Shore cast member had the last name Soprano. These claims are by no means true, but they are a near-omnipresent lens through which the state is often viewed. At one point responding to an overzealous crowd member, Christie quipped to big laughs, "I guess there is an open bar here tonight—welcome to New Jersey."
Christie's overwhelming victory in a famously Democratic state spoke to his broad appeal. "If we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey," Christie said, "maybe the people in Washington DC should turn on their televisions and see how it's done." In other words: hey, if national punchline New Jersey—teeming with drunks and fighters—can get its act together and find common ground, what does that say about the rest of you?