I like my beer cold and my governor opportunist. On Nov. 4, Charlie Crist announced he would run to become once more the governor of Florida. Immediately, ads denouncing the former governor as opportunist surfaced. If you haven’t seen them, the Republican Party of Florida will make sure you do by next November.
What everyone needs to understand is that modern politics are Machiavellian. Unless you truly believe the president “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage conveniently after its popular support passed the 50 percent level, you might have to conclude that politicians use social issues as pawns in their ultimate goal to achieve higher office. Consider that by a 2-to-1 margin, college graduates tend to be of the liberal persuasion. More than half of all politicians, well educated though they tend to be, are conservative. You don’t need a calculator to figure this imbalance out. Some of them lie about their beliefs to win elections.
Enter Charlie Crist. Republican, then Independent, now Democrat. Former Gov. Crist is the latest victim of our generation’s drastic shift in social policies. First pro-choice, then pro-life, now pro-choice again. First for Obamacare, then against it. Believe me, the list goes on and on.
I submit to you that none of this matters. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, he’s a pandering opportunist. Yes, he’s riding the political waves up and down. Yes, his ambition far eclipses his principles. Does any of this offend you, dear reader, as much as, say, denying $2.4 billion in federal aid to build a highspeed rail system in Florida for ideological reasons? Your current governor, Rick Scott, did just that. Could you forgive our former governor the crime of flip-flopping on the small things if it meant giving him the flexibility in office to make the right decisions on what matters to our state?
After all, then-Republican Crist embraced the economic aid that was given to Florida in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Scott said he would “fight all the stimulus money” that would be given to the state, in spite of our ravaged economy. Crist supported the rail system that was almost entirely paid for by the federal government and would have brought 50,000 jobs to our state. Scott denied those funds, and they were instead awarded to 15 other states.
Does principled ideology make pragmatic leadership possible? I think we’re seeing the answer to that question in Congress and in the governor’s mansion now. A lot will be made of Crist’s shape-shifting nature in the coming months. Don’t forget though, that where Crist is naked in his pandering, Scott and most politicians are only thinly-veiled. Scott has his own share of defenseless flip flops somewhere in that dirty closet of his. The difference is that the issues Crist panders on are benign. Obamacare will be implemented in Florida whether the governor agrees with it or not. Gay marriage is inevitable. A woman’s right to choose in Florida is virtually assured. Crist can be on the wrong side of these arguments all he wants, and it will change little for the people of Florida.
But on the big issues — on the issues which mean billions of dollars to the state — Crist has been consistent. On these very same matters, Scott has proven himself ineffective and malicious in his pursuit of conservative reactionary ideology. Next November, I’ll take an opportunist governor with a side of competence. Maybe a Heineken, too, to drown this Rick Scott hangover.