Jim Florio Has Some Good Ideas About Healing the Country
He's in his 80s now, but former U.S. Rep. and New Jersey Gov. James J. Florio continues to look to the future, continues to look at today's problems as opportunities, and firmly believes that traditional solutions no longer can be applied to the challenges of the times.
All of that came into focus during an interview with the Governor on Tempo and the Times.
While Florio has retired from politics, he is not sitting around twiddling his thumbs.
"I'm intimately involved in offshore wind energy production, clean energy production" he said, when asked what he's doing now. "I'm working with a company that's doing that sort of thing, and I'm very optimistic that this administration is going to be supportive of clean energy and particularly offshore wind. New Jersey is one of the leaders in that area. We've authorized construction of a facility off the coast."
Reminded that defeated President Donald Trump belittled wind energy and said that windmills kill birds, Florio pointed out that Denmark relies on wind energy and that the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society are both supportive.
"Birds are not stupid," he cracked.
Florio recounted his successful battle as governor to convince a veto-proof Republican state legislature not to override his veto of legislation that would have overturned the state's ban against assault weapons, and how he worked to build support among the electorate to the point that not a single vote was cast in support of the override attempt.
Calling that his proudest moment in a long career in government, Florio said it's an example of what political leaders must do today to deal with difficult and controversial issues. Educate the people, he said. Explain the problem and possible solutions and the reasons for the proposed solution. Help them understand and build consensus.
Old solutions can no longer be applied to new problems, he stressed. No matter what those problems might be.
Asked if he's optimistic about our children's and grandchildren's future, he replied:
"I'm optimistic if we can get the leadership to engage in the process and be willing to take on the task of explaining how hard things are to resolve, but they can be resolved if you're willing to get people to understand the problem and understand what the options are.
"I used to have these town meetings and I'd go out and as objectively as possible as I could be, I would explain the alternative paths and then conclude by saying, 'my thought is, on balance, this is the path we should follow. What do you think? The people would give me their thoughts. I would benefit from their thoughts, reject some thoughts, but ultimately come out with a decision that really reflected the people that I was representing.
"That's the approach that we have to have out of the leadership in the Congress, the Presidency, and the local governors; having people look at the choices, make their decisions as to what they think what's best, and then support or reject whatever the decision-makers arrive at. That's the approach that leads me to be optimistic about the future."
During the podcast interview, Florio talks about politics post-Trump, says the Democrats should scrap the Senate's gerrymandering rule so Biden's progressive policies can stand a chance, that the Cuomo sex abuse scandal should proceed and if the charges are proven to be true, "they cannot be tolerated."
"This is a good example of what I spoke about before," Florio said, when reminded that times have changed when it comes to how individuals are treated by public figures. "We're applying old policies to new problems and they're not working. Old policies allowed for conduct that was acceptable that is now not acceptable. So we have to have new policies to deal with the new problem."