The goal is not just to crawl out of crisis but ultimately to lead, said Christie in his budget address. “If we make the tough decisions now, we will be one year ahead of 80 percent of the states in the race to economic growth. If we fail to act, we will fall even further behind … by going first, we can become first.”

Can Christie succeed? We will find out on June 30, when the Legislature must pass a budget . But no matter the political price, Christie is determined. “You just have to stand and grit your teeth and know your poll numbers are going to go down — and mine have — but you gotta grit through it because the alternative is unacceptable,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

The alternative is unacceptable — words a growing majority of Americans desperately want to hear from their elected officials.