Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Jersey: More Than Just Corrupt Politicians

By Brianne Harrison

It seems like New Jersey really can’t catch a break. Just when we start clawing our way toward respectability, some new corruption scandal erupts, and we’re back to being the subject of national jokes, much eye-rolling, and comments of “Of course, it’s New Jersey!”

Which really isn’t fair at all. New Jersey has a lot of good things going for it, although out-of-staters seem to think it’s one giant mob-run garbage dump populated with characters from the Sopranos and the Real Housewives. I grew up in and very near New Jersey, and when I think of the state, I tend to think of charming small towns like Lambertville, where I now work, and Princeton, where I now live. Or Collingswood, Haddonfield, or Westfield. I’m not naïve—I know there are lots of non-idyllic places in the state, but the charming spots are out there. People don’t think of small towns when they think of New Jersey—they think of dangerous cities. I’ll admit to falling victim to that once myself, feeling nervous the first time I had to go into Trenton on my own, but what I found surprised me. The area I was in (granted, it was the nice area of town, near the Capitol building) was lovely, and the people were quite friendly. They smiled at me as we passed on the sidewalk. When was the last time someone did that to you in New York?

New Jersey is a small state, which means it’s easy to criss cross it and take advantage of everything it has to offer. You could, theoretically, spend your morning strolling along the Delaware or popping in and out of antiques shops in Lambertville, perhaps sipping a nice, house-roasted coffee from Rojo’s Roastery; then head north and enjoy the nightlife and views of the Manhattan skyline from Jersey City or Hoboken. After you’ve slept off the night’s revelries, you can cruise down to the shore, choosing from a wide array of towns to suit your mood (hip and happening? Laid back and quiet? You’ve got it!) and work on your tan. On our way home, pick up dinner fixings at one of the many farm stands, farmers’ markets, or mom-and-pop specialty shops that dot the state. There aren’t too many places where you could accomplish all this in a single weekend, if you have the stamina.

Does New Jersey have its problems? Yes, but what state doesn’t? New York’s politicians certainly can’t brag about their squeaky-clean noses, but I don’t remember too many “Oh, of course, it's New York,” comments after the Spitzer scandal.

There will always be corrupt politicians out there. Another scandal will come, and we Jersey defenders (or apologists) will roll our eyes and cringe. When that happens, we’ll do just what we’re doing now—smile grimly at others’ jokes at our state’s expense, try to put our faith in the good politicians out there (and we do have a few!), and remind ourselves of the many great things New Jersey has to offer.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Corrupt politicians must be removed it's the best solution for this!!
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