Listen, I’m never really going to know what Chris Christie knew at the time, or how truthful he’s been to reporters in the aftermath. The Fort Lee lane closure scandal, more infamously known as “Bridgegate,” will forever remain at least a little bit mysterious and somewhat murky — as scandals usually are — because nobody can really understand all of the moving parts; the dialogues, the sequence of events, and all the rest will go overanalyzed but never fully uncovered by the journalists (and liberal pundits) setting out to shovel some dirt on a promising elected official.

Side note: “Bridgegate” is by no means a trivial development, but the efforts by various individuals and groups on the Left to go after Christie have been overzealous, highly questionable, and even disgraceful in some cases. The witch-hunt running its course right now doesn’t come close to matching the (alleged) crime.

Now, I still believe in Chris Christie. Granted, I’m assuming that he’s been telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth to the press corps, so I commend the actions that have been taken to fix what was clearly broken. Those staffers responsible for orchestrating the lane closures were punished in due time, as they should have been for their inexcusable actions. Their names need not be said, but the man in charge made very clear that a line was crossed — and that abusing one’s political power should be met with the nuclear option, which is stripping the abuser of that political clout. In my mind, the moving parts went unknown to Christie at the time and, had he known, they never would have even been set in motion. So, I’m taking his word for it.

Another side note: I’m also assuming that nothing will come of the allegations that Hurricane Sandy recovery funds were withheld on political grounds. May that be cleared up over the coming weeks.

Still, by no means am I suggesting that Christie should go entirely unscathed after “Bridgegate,” since the executive in any situation has a duty to oversee, monitor, and double-check at all times. Even if he wasn’t the one caught redhanded, the fact that something so indefensible took place right under Christie’s watch doesn’t look good at all. Nor should it, since Christie is reportedly interested in the most significant executive position in the free world. He lost his keen sense of attentiveness for just a brief second and it came back to bite him.

The same applies to President Obama during his less-than-spectacular second term in office. The Justice Department went overboard, the IRS went haywire, and Benghazi happened — and the sole man in charge lost focus for a just that brief second. When an individual so influential loses his way, you have a scandal. Or two, or three. Those in charge must stay in charge, with no exceptions.

If Chris Christie ran a tighter ship, this whole thing could’ve been avoided. The brightest star of them all could’ve kept on shining, had the man at the top controlled all of those little pieces at the bottom of the totem pole. Alas, the star has waned a bit.

But, let’s not forget the brightness of that shining star as 2016 nears and ObamaCare struggles to pick up any semblance of steam — the time for change, real change, is fast approaching once again. There is a valuable opportunity for one Republican to seize just a couple short years from now, and Christie is still as good a bet as any. He’s certainly seen better days, but the tools are still there for those days to come back sometime down the road.

I still believe in Chris Christie because he’s a doer of the pragmatic kind, with the capacity to juggle his affirmation of traditional conservatism and the practical need to compromise in a time of ideological brinksmanship. He has the values that any conservative purist in Texas or Georgia would preach, in addition to a lengthy track record of Jersey-style bipartisanship that gets results. It’s the best of both worlds, so Christie strikes the right kind of balance as a disciple of blue state politics.

And then there’s the whole popularity thing, which clearly matters when you consider that likability sometimes gets a president elected and approval ratings oftentimes determine the success of an administration. After surprisingly winning his first election, Christie won reelection with over 60% of the vote. His approval rating rocketed above 73% in 2013. That year, Christie won the all-important Hispanic vote, as well as almost every single age demographic (outside of the 18-29 range). He won independents and women, the poor and the rich and the people in the middle. Even many African-Americans and liberal Democrats voted for the Republican on the ballot. All of this in a blue state, which elected Barack Hussein Obama twice. Twice. The man is wildly popular and thoroughly lovable, as the statistics demonstrate.

Mitt Romney lost out on Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans. He lost out on those in the middle, the poor, the young, the non-married, and a whole lot of Catholics. Basically, Romney just lost out on a lot. That’s valuable perspective, as it sheds light on Christie’s numerous electoral successes coming from a left-leaning state in the Northeast.

Love him or hate him (well, most people still love him), Chris Christie is always to the point. He is genuinely blunt, in a way that’s both relatable to many and complex enough to warrant admiration from fellow legislators. And all kinds of voters, from all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives, appreciate his unique brand of governance in a time of partisanship, stubbornness, and ever more partisanship. His brand is cool and it’s definitely refreshing. That hasn’t changed, despite this latest stumble.

I know where I stand. Adversity has struck, and I still stand there. Chris Christie inspires me with his effectual simplicity. The go-getting, result-craving mantra resonates with a college student like myself. And so, I’m looking forward to following him as he progresses in his political career and strives to recover from “Bridgegate,” or whatever you want to call this brief lapse in concentration. Most importantly, there is still time to fix what’s broken and get back on track. 2016 is still a ways away. Months and months are ahead of us, an ample opportunity to stand back up and keep moving forward. Let’s not forget about the long haul, even though it’s easier to be a prisoner of the moment.

The brightest star in the bunch may have waned a bit, but it will shine once again. May it radiate on some stage in some packed assembly hall at the tail end of 2016. I believe in that vision. When the dust clears, I’ll bet on Chris Christie.