2011-06-16 / Opinion

C’mon, let’s all embrace our governor: He’s a new liberal

Powerful political movements often begin with a single clear idea. It doesn’t have to be right, it just has to be clear.

For example: We’re not going to pay a tax on imported tea because we’re not represented in Parliament (hence the Boston Tea Party, the Revolutionary War and the United States of America).

We’re not going to be told by the federal government that we can’t buy and sell slaves because our way of life depends on it (hence the Civil War, Reconstruction and the United States of America).

They sunk our ships or bombed New York (hence the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Afghanistan War and still, the United States of America).

Many less martial examples of simple ideas that change everything exist, too:

Joe McCarthy says the communists are taking over (hence the odious McCarthyism of the early1950s).

JFK says we have to beat the Soviets to the moon (hence a half-century of space exploration and dazzling scientific advances).

The Rev. Dr. C. Ocka Doodle says the world will end next Saturday night (hence people standing fruitlessly on hilltops when they could be downtown fomenting the culture of fermenting).

The town fathers say that sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll are bad for the body and soul (hence 400 years of Puritanism in America, complete with witch burnings anchoring one end of that history and a massive boondoggle called The War On Drugs anchoring the other).

The church fathers say it was all Eve’s fault that we were booted from Paradise (hence 2,000 years of discrimination in the West, against women).

Somebody has to start these things, and today it’s my turn. So let me make it simple.

I say Republican Gov. Rick Scott is a new liberal.

Hence the need for new liberals to begin supporting his pogrom against the environment, the weak, the old, the poor, the homeless, the developmentally disabled, the students, the teachers, public hospitals and voters who don’t like standing in lines.

The problem here is that Gov. Scott has been misunderstood as an opportunistic deconstructionist in everything from better health care and a cleaner environment that draws more tourists, to voters’ rights.

In fact, he’s the opposite, I’ve concluded. The governor is a selfless constructionist — a champion of expansion, not contraction.

By eviscerating the state’s department of community affairs that regulates development, for example, and disemboweling the South Florida Water Management District that covers 16 counties and also regulates development — to name just two — he’s put the need to tax developers and corporate owners, and to regulate them, on the matt. (The governor is said to be a martial arts man and matt master, which means he’s mad at somebody. But most liberals are).

In other words, Gov. Scott has executed a classic liberal approach to government by giving a huge hand up to those most in need.

He just happens to define “most in need” a little differently than many other people, but that doesn’t change my point: Government for a liberal requires giving the needy a boost. The governor is doing that for large corporations and businesses, with admirable results.

Liberals are not the only ones who have misunderstood the governor, either. Countless moderate or conservative voters have suddenly discovered they loath the man they put in office to manage the Sunshine State during its most vulnerable moment in decades, falling prey to the illusion that Gov. Scott is out for himself and his rich friends, and no one else.

That’s why his approval ratings are now the lowest of any governor’s in the 50 states (and if there were 60 or 70 states, the ratings would probably still be the lowest).

When it comes to voting in particular, the governor, like most liberals, is against fraud.

Hence his tighter restrictions on voters and their options, even though many reputable groups, not to mention individual supervisors of elections have pointed out that there is little or no fraud in Florida voting, and the new law might even cost them more money to put in place.

The governor cut early voting days almost in half, from 15 to eight. But that’s not the best part.

He’s also made any votes by people who move to another county potential discards if they just show up at the poll, without registering first in some official government building. Under the new rule, their votes will be put in a wait-and-see pile, since they won’t be allowed to show proof of their move on the spot. Those votes are often thrown away, according to voting analysts.

Not only that, but the new law makes a criminal of any volunteer trying to register voters who fails to get the registration form back to the Supervisor of Elections in 48 hours.

Such volunteers include a lot of little old ladies, and they used to have 10 days. The implicit threat to volunteers has already caused the League of Women Voters to flinch — the league decided it wouldn’t help with the democratic process anymore, because its members don’t deserve steep fines for trying to do right.

Who does the new voting law really affect? Wastrels, people who oversleep, and the underclass whose wristwatches don’t work because they were too poor to buy a Rolex, or whose relatives didn’t give them calendars at Christmas.

Blacks, young people and the elderly or disabled, in particular, have demonstrated not only a willingness to move around the state, but an abhorrence for crowded polling places, preferring instead early voting options — which were defended strongly by Gov. Scott’s predecessor and fellow Republican, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

He was a true conservative, who tried to conserve the old notion that everybody except felons, those under 18, and those classified as insane should be encouraged to vote. Everybody. But Gov. Scott’s new rules would likely inhibit the very people unlikely to vote for him — blacks, young people and some older folks.

The lesson for Mr. Crist and those conservatives like him should be simple.

You can love a thing too much, Charlie. Especially democracy in Florida.


Got that?

Be a new Liberal. Give your rich friends a hand up. ¦

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