“He looks like a man that one must not speak to unless one has some sensible thing to say. However, he does… converse cheerfully & well; and when one knows how benevolent & excellent he is, it disposes one to be very much pleased with him.”
-Scottish poet Joanna Baillie’s
reflection on William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
After hearing Phil Murphy, this year’s candidate for NJ Governor and a Harvard man, speak to packed audiences on more than one occasion, I’m now thinking he could be the man and this could be his moment.
As for me, personally, it might mean that maybe; just maybe, my own less expensive education and instincts are going to pay off.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC called Murphy a “real Democrat.” That ‘s major. Clearly, what both the political discourse and candidates in this year’s election contest truly demonstrate is the need for the emergence of major possibilities.
What Murphy can now do is show all of us on this side of the Hudson River that he’s the real deal, ready to play the hand that’s dealt him. Will he, as I believe he can and should, seize the moment?
There are some things you just don’t forget. I once had a University professor offer up an exam question in an English Lit class: “Why or why not is William Wordsworth a major Romantic Poet?“
My answer (scribbled in one of those old-fashioned, very dated, blue books): “Certainly,” I posited, “Wordsworth was a major romantic essentially because he was combination of the man and the moment.“
A wizened character, quite revealing in his own kindly way, the professor enjoyed having the class compose love letters and birthday greetings to his dear friend, the American (Pulitzer Prize winning) poetess Marianne Moore.
So, I never doubted that he and Wordsworth were both major romantics.
One day after class he explained to me how he enjoyed the simplicity of my lead graph and told me something I always remembered: “You’re right about Wordsworth,“ he said, “and more importantly as you go along, you’ll learn to embrace that idea.”
“A major figure (whether in literature, history or life) can be just that: A combination of himself or herself and the moment, ” he said.
So, that pretty well, for me at least, sums up Phil Murphy, his possibilities, and his quest to be New Jersey’s next governor.
He has a chance to be a unifier. He’s an affable, studious candidate with the potential, if successful, to be more than a one-term Democrat. In his case, experience need not be a pejorative.
He has extraordinary business acumen and diplomatic skills. Coincidentally, that’s what is needed at the moment: that and a Governor who understands that he needs to do what’s right, that he’s the one who can do it and also be a leader who will learn to say no when it needs to be said.
He gets plenty of advice. But, here’s mine. Cut your schedule in half, view the race as a marathon and not a sprint. Stay healthy, and make alliances on both sides of the aisle.
Don’t punch down in your own Primary; reach out to GOP Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. with an eye toward legislative success down the long road. Make friends. Seize the moment.