While everyone waits for April 30, the deadline for Charlie Crist to make his move to either bail on the Grand Obstructionist Party and become an Independent, or (sputter) a Democrat, the Republican Party seems to have already bailed on him. They are quick to purge those who don’t comply with their strict sets of rules like “In Jeb We Trust,” the big one, among others, and Charlie’s purging began almost days before he even hinted that he would veto the recent teacher tenure bill in Florida, SB 6. After the veto, they really came out swinging, not only in Florida but nationally. In other words, they won’t let Charlie play in any of their reindeer games. Sniffle.
That’s been the conventional wisdom. But there seems to be something else rumbling just below the surface in Florida, kind of like our ever-present silent threats of sinkholes. It’s fear.
GOP Are Furious, But Fear Charlie
The GOP in Florida are furious with Crist for boldly jumping OFF the third rail of Florida politics. That would be the “Jeb Bush Express” to gutting education in Florida, for starters. With that veto, Crist kind of became a version of that “Cow On The Tracks” that the GOP wingnut in chief Michael Steele talked about a while back. Only difference is that the national Steele version was meant as an obstruction tactic against the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular. Charlie’s version is a little different. With that veto, he started what could be the beginnings of a derailment of the GOP in Florida. You don’t have to do too much digging to find evidence of that. Just listen to what GOP members have said about Charlie in the past few days. He’s “erratic”, “dishonest,” “poll driven,” “he can’t be trusted” and his “veto was politically motivated.” All qualities that the GOP normally embrace. Sure, they may all be true. The big problem for the GOP is Charlie is no longer “one of them,” and as the law of hypocrisy goes, those qualities in a candidate suddenly become “outrageous” when a sheep has left the flock. Not only has Crist left the flock behind, but he’s now hanging out AND siding with the villagers, or in this case teachers and students, and there are signals that they aren’t the only ones who may benefit from Charlie’s newfound independence.
Just yesterday the “smell of fear” was evident when the Office Of Insurance Regulation chief suddenly all but pulled the plug on the state insurance and deregulation reform bill. Why? Because GOP leaders feared another veto. The last thing they want now is a repeat of the wake left from last week’s veto. Newfound popularity for Crist among some voters in Florida.
Witness another case in point: the withdrawn endorsement from another member of the legislature who is championing his own Medicaid overhaul, Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park). Why? Could it be because Crist has compared Medicaid reform to the education reform bill? Crist has said he has concerns that under HMO’s, that bill could put the care of the disabled and nursing homes at a disadvantage. Perhaps the fear of another veto in favor of the people and not the flock?
There’s also evidence that the GOP is pushing back. At the moment the Senate is stalling the confirmation of two appointees of Crist’s to the Public Service Commission. Why? Because they’ve helped block rate increases from Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy. The Grand Obstructionist Party of Florida sure doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of power companies who can increase rates, when those power companies could easily turn around and cut off the “power supply” of the GOP in the form of big campaign donations. Who would benefit from those appointees being confirmed? You don’t have to look any further than your last electric bill to find the answer to that question. The “villagers” can’t just shrug those bills off by saying “charge it” or “just put it on my tab” the way the Republican Party of Florida has with expenses on their American Express Cards. The voters in Florida whether they still have jobs or not can’t do that. Even if they wanted to, is there a bank out there who would even extend them the credit at the moment? Nope. The banks have reversed that process in the form of bailouts courtesy of taxpayers.
Bipartisanship Comes At A Cost
That brings me to another point. Partisan politics in Washington right now are about as bad as it gets. The Grand Obstructionist Party has all but brought President Obama’s and the Democrats efforts to right the last eight years of wrongs brought to us by the Bush Administration and the GOP controlled congress to a halt. Look what happened with health care reform. By the time we got a bill passed into law, it was watered down thanks to the GOP’s obstruction tactics. President Obama and Democrats bent over backwards to try to take the bipartisan approach. We got a bill that was unpopular for some only in that it didn’t cover enough, and we have the GOP to thank for it. What did we get in return from the GOP? Nothing.
Now we’re on the verge of more of the same. Ahead of us is financial reform, immigration, and picking a new Supreme Court Justice, just to name a few. There’s also all those Obama appointees which have secret holds placed on them, mostly by republicans. (Sound familiar Florida?) You would think after an entire year of uphill battles for health care reform and the result, we could come away with many lessons learned.
Not so much. Even with bailouts at the taxpayers expense, there are still all those hefty bonuses the boys on Wall Street are getting, a couple so far this year both in January and another this month (how many bonuses have you received lately?). Common sense would dictate that we do some pretty fast reform to prevent another economic disaster. Well, sorry. Common sense isn’t part of the GOP plan. They recently had meetings with Wall Street and, no surprises here, beat a direct path from the boardrooms to the lectern, Frank Luntz talking points on notes in their hands, to announce they were firmly against financial reform. Their alternative plan? Why, the very same plan they had for health care reform. Say it with me:
“IT’S TIME TO START OVER!”
Perhaps after giving it some thought, today we hear the vague hint of possible cooperation from a handful of Republicans. Call me a skeptic, but this appears to be another stall tactic disguised as an olive branch. I don’t think they mean it anymore than when they formed their “Gangs of Eight”, and “Gangs of Six” busily looking like they were putting together a health care reform bill instead of working towards gaming the system against any democratic accomplishment. They can come out tomorrow happily announcing a new “Gang of 20,” or a “Gang of 100” who promise feats of magic to disappear all the woes of the banking industry like fairies who turn pixie dust into giant bags of money and I wouldn’t buy it. I would bet my money on the fact that they will remain nothing more than a “Gang of We Got Nothin.’ If they get away with gaming the system for the banks, then get ready for the next nightmare. In the wake of the SCOTUS ruling turning giant corporations with larger bags of money than you or I will ever see into “people” who can donate endless campaign contributions, than you ain’t seen nothin’yet.
Take A Lesson From The GOP Fear Of Crist
Rather than trying to do the same thing as they did with health care reform, and by that I mean another “try” at bipartisanship if that’s what they still want to call it, perhaps President Obama and the Democrats in Congress might instead take a lesson from what’s happened with Charlie Crist and the Republicans in Florida. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Charlie’s. What I’m saying is take a look at what he’s doing and learn from it.
Fear of losing the U.S. Senate election has turned Crist towards desperate measures. He’s in partisan limbo now, and last week that helped the teachers, students and education in our state. Some of us have kids in the system right now, and we know education is far from it’s best. Jeb Bush took a crack at it for years, but in the wrong direction, and not in favor of students and teachers. He blew it big time, and you could compare it to how his brother George blew a national surplus. It went “poof!” (Jeb is still rumored to be at the helm, with more educational fallout to come, and Crist dealt that a blow lat week. Soon our legislature will be taking a swing at changes in standardized testing, and shifting more money for private and religious schools.) Crist has suddenly taken a turn away from partisan politics towards doing what’s right for the people in Florida, and big shock, they like that.
Shove Aside “The Party Of No” And Go Around Them
Instead of going backwards to try to win over the GOP with the upcoming battles on Capitol Hcapill, I would suggest to Democrats and President Obama that they just forget about bipartisanship. It’s not going to happen. This is no surprise to many, but it still sounds as if it is in Washington. Take a lesson from Florida.
If the GOP continue to stand in the way, shove them aside and go around them. Their ignorant methods for shutting things down for several years until they get back in power is a disaster in the making. After the eight years of the Bush Administration, we don’t have that kind of time.
What do you suppose the country will look like in four years, or eight years after the big GOP stonewall? What would happen if they win the White House and Congress back? Can we look forward to a future where GOP lawmakers suggest that we pay for our medical expenses with poultry, or say goats? How about living in a police state, or dealing with lives lost due to offshore drilling and oil slicks so we can send what’s left of our natural resources elsewhere? Or what about fearing an arrest in certain states just because you look different from, say your average white Tea Bagger, or that you can’t take your kids to visit a National Park, or even send them to school for fear of armed visitors, teachers or students? How does living under rules dictated by corporations while the company logo is displayed on The White House, The Capitol and The Supreme Court sound? This kind of thing might be the dream of a minority of the GOP, but to many more of us this looks like a nightmare.
The White House and Democrats in Congress should take a lesson from our current GOP Crist-ophobia. Dial back to the promises made during the Presidential election. Do what’s right for the people instead of what’s right for the Party. When you come out on the side of the people you won’t have reason to fear an election. The votes will be there.