Former Assemblywoman Says GOP’s Talk of Founding Fathers Doesn’t Reflect Today’s Society

As the Republicans hold their convention, NJ Today has been interviewing some key New Jersey Democrats to gauge their reaction to events in Tampa. Today, Managing Editor Mike Schneider sat down with Joan Quigley, who served in the General Assembly from 1994 until earlier this year.

Quigley says that it’s been hard for her to sit through the Republican speeches. “Every night, I have to force myself to sit down and listen to it; it’s a little painful as you can imagine,” she said.

She has two points of contention with what she has heard thus far. “One is I don’t think they’re telling the truth about what’s going on this country. And two, I don’t think they’re right when they’re wanting people to go back to the old days.”

The Republican National Convention has been prominently displaying a clock that shows the national debt rising. Quigley says most of that debt was acquired during the Bush administration.

“When President Clinton left, that would have been blank, there was none,” she said. “So a lot of that debt occurred over the Republican years and they’re blaming it all on us.”


The Republicans have the easier task of playing offense in this election year, according to Quigley, thereby putting the Democrats squarely on the defense. “And really the only thing they can say why things didn’t work as well as they planned is because there was obstructionism on the other side. And that’s a very difficult thing to tell people.”

One of the criticisms leveled at President Obama from both Republicans and some Democrats was the focus on health care reform rather than jobs. And Quigley doesn’t disagree, saying if she had been president she would have focused on the economy.

Gov. Chris Christie’s keynote address on Tuesday is still creating a lot of buzz. Reviews are mixed with some describing the performance as “classic Chris Christie” and others calling it an act of self-promotion that didn’t do enough for Mitt Romney.

Quigley says the governor was good but not great. “Somehow I expected something a little bit more. It was rather egotistical,” she said.

In touting his accomplishments in New Jersey, Christie raised more than a few eyebrows when he listed balancing the state budget as one of them since a balanced budget is mandated under the state constitution.

“There’s never been an unbalanced budget but he made the numbers match at the end of the fiscal year by not making all of the payments,” said Quigley. “Now he’s certainly not the only governor who did that but it riles me up when I see him go out and tell the rest of the country ‘I’m really special because I did this.’ All his predecessors did it too. All of them.”

The GOP’s vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan gave a rousing speech last night. But Ryan’s talk of the values of America’s founding fathers only served to confirm Quigley’s fears of a Romney-Ryan administration.

“Some of those values may be fine but when you think about it, they were all Christian, Anglo-Saxon men. I don’t think their values accurately reflect today’s values with this multicultural, multi-religious country … They were fallible men working from their own beliefs and for us to go back and only do what they say was right, that’s not going to happen.”

She says next week’s Democratic National Convention will feature a lot more diversity than what’s been shown in Tampa.

“When they pan over the audience you don’t see a lot of colored faces, you don’t see a lot of women, you see a lot of white people … mostly older white people. I think [at] the Democratic convention, you’re going to see a lot more color, you’re going to see a lot more age groups and disabled people.”