The Republican Party’s ship is sinking faster and with greater toxicity than a uranium Titanic, torpedoed by Das Tea Party in an incident of unfriendly fire. And like any sinking ship, this one’s throwing off its fair share of drowning rats. Former Republicans are swimming to the U.S.S. Democrat by the dozens these days. On this very day, we published a story about North Carolina’s Jason Thigpin crossing over, and Texas Judge Carlos Key renounced the Hate Convention a couple weeks ago.
While we’re happy to see the nation regaining something resembling sense again, we also find ourselves in a fairly odd position these days. Because for every Redback rat we take on, we run the risk of contaminating our own ship with their fleas, and the plague of stealth corporatism some inevitably carry.
Case in point Florida’s would-be, once-and-future governor Charlie Crist, who has recently taken the first steps toward reclaiming his old job from one of the nation’s most hated individuals.
Proud Teabagger Rick Scott has been a national embarrassment almost since the day he took office, and Florida has never been worse off for it. Mere hours ago, Charlie Crist addressed a crowd at an event near his home in St. Petersberg, unofficially kicking off the start of his upcoming campaign. The transcript isn’t available yet, but we do know this — Rick Scott is already running scared, and is expected to spend more than $25 million on attack ads against Crist.
And Scott has every reason to be scared; many Floridians have fond memories of the Crist tenure, the state just barely went blue during the last election, and these days a dark blue sea turtle would stand a pretty good chance against King Baggerscott if it ran on the right platform. But, before we get too excited, let us not forget — Crist WAS a committed GOP man.
Certain things about his history make this “conversion” seem somewhat legitimate…but “Chain Gang Charlie” still has some ‘splainin to do in regard to his background check as a “real” Democrat.
DEM POINTS — Leaving the GOP, defeat by Teabagger, “Stealth Democrat”
Crist’s turn to the blue side has been fairly gradual; he left the party to run for Senate as an Independent in 2010, and lost the race to Koch-piece Marco Rubio. Just given that, there’s reason to believe he has a legitimate ax to grind against the Tea Party. And it’s worth remembering that the primary reason Crist was kicked out of office was that he wasn’t Republican enough for Florida’s burgeoning Teabagger movement. Crist, in his heyday, drew plenty of criticism from state Republicans for his deficit of Conservative psychosis. Some even called him a “stealth Democrat.” Not without reason, either.
DEM POINTS — Crist’s History of Leaning Left
Basic Principle Statements
- “I would have left the GOP anyway; they’re too extreme. We need open-mindedness in a Senator, not ideology.”
- “Problem solving requires consensus, and sometimes concession.”
- Vetoed bill requiring ultrasound exams before abortion
- Supports Federal abortion funding and Judicial activism
- Opposes overturning Roe vs. Wade
- Said “Tea Party is too extreme on outlawing abortion (2010)”
- Said “Abortion is a personal decision, but ban partial birth abortion.”
Support of Obama and the ACA
Crist strongly supported Obama in 2012, stating “I’m confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation. I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility.”
- Supports economic stimulus and some parts of the ACA
- $8 Billion in stimulus funds saved or created 87,000 jobs in Florida.
- Created the HOPE taskforce charged with making reccomendations to keep families from losing their homes.
- Strongly opposes NAFTA, supports the World Trade Organization, supports tariffs on products imported from nations that maintain restrictive trade barriers, supports removal of “favored trade status” from nations with a history of human rights violations.
- Supported cutting all corporate welfare and foreign aid.
- Wishy-washy on gay adoption rights, opposing it gay adoption initially, then praising the court’s decision to overturn the ban.
- Lifetime member of the NAACP; one black legislator called Crist “Florida’s first black governor.”
- Supports providing compensation to victims of racial discrimination.
- Opposes banning homosexuals in the military, but supports “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Environment and Energy
- Open to cap and trade plan for carbon emissions
- $200 million package for development of solar, wind and biofuel energy
- Proposed almost $70 million on development of alternative energy development
- Supports tax credits for renewable energy
- Appropriated $100 million to restore the Everglades
- Proposed $3.8 Billion to reduce class size
- Implemented school accountability
- Supports parts of the ACA
- Supports Cover Florida, a super-low-priced, basic form of insurance for the poorest families in Florida.
- Supports aggressively ridding Social Security and Medicare of waste and fraud — Rick Scott.
- Expand tax-free medical savings accounts.
- Reduce property taxes by doubling homestead exemption
- Extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers
- Extend all tax cuts temporarily (as of 2010), but be willing to compromise and negotiate later.
- No amnesty, but an earned path to citizenship
REPUBLICAN LEANINGS — Crucifying Crist
So, Charlie Crist has a lot going for him in terms of legitimacy as a Democratic candidate. He has a long history of, if not supporting Democratic policies, then at least being open-minded and willing to compromise for the best results. His willingness to invest in the environment, healthcare and renewable energy certainly illustrates that he cares about the people and future of Florida.
BUT…and this is a BIG “but”…”caring” doesn’t always equate to “wisdom” or “incorruptibility,” and former Attorney General Crist has certainly seen Florida through some of its most misguided attempts to enhance our way of life. Crist has been known as “Chain Gang Charlie” for some time now, and practically invented “get tough on crime” in the state. Probably for that reason, he’s also heavily supported by the Private Prison Companies that profiteer from misery in the populace. The GEO group, one of the largest misery profiteers in the nation, “supported” Crist to the tune of $50,000 — among the $219,000 he took from similar prison profiteers.
However, concordant with Crist’s on-and-off relationship with common sense, a judge that he appointed Jackie Fulford, hammered the required privatization of 29 Florida prisons as unconstitutional.
Crist is also a Bible-thumper…more outwardly so than the typical Democratic candidate, and he has no problem with institutionalizing his religion. And there’s plenty more.
The Legal System
Crist’s default solutions to everything are 1) Harsher laws, 2) Longer sentences and 3) More power, authority and funding for the police. That’s what happens when private prison corporations become a major contributor.
- Supports re-instituting prison chain gangs
- Supports prison privatization
- Supports minimum mandatory sentencing
- Require inmates to serve 85% of sentences
- More state and federal prisons
- Broaden use of death penalty
- Harsher drug laws and longer sentences
- 10-20-Life sentencing
- More funding for law enforcement
- Strong advocate of gun ownership and absolute right of the Second Amendment
- Supports repealing all Federal restrictions on purchase and possession of firearms by approved citizens.
- Favors concealed-carry laws’
- Rated an “A minus” by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun voting record and advocacy for gun rights.
Prayer in Schools
- Strong advocate of a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to teacher-led prayer in schools.
- Supports upholding Florida’s ban on gay marriage
So, there it is…our background check on Charlie Crist, who will sort-of hopefully crush Rick Scott in next year’s election. We have to say “sort-of” because, while Crist certainly does seem sincere, and less of a swimming Redback rat simply drifting with the political currents than he might first seem, this potential governor has a few obstacles to overcome before we Floridians will be willing to tepidly accept him as anything but the lesser of two evils.
Mr. Crist, if you’ll accept a bit of advice from a mere Floridian and political writer (with a monthly readership of about 750,000, or something like 10 million between now and next year’s elections), then I have a bit to give.
- Be a Democrat, and be one ALL THE WAY. No moderate is going to get a single Republican vote here, so throw your lot in with the Blue Zone on the I-4 corridor and support whatever they want you to support.
- Gay marriage — accept it, embrace it. Tampa, Orlando, Daytona, and the Keys all have huge, active and vocal gay populations. ESPECIALLY Key West. Denounce the mistakes of your past, and embrace the people who will put you in office.
- Rethink your stance on gun ownership, or at least show some flexibility in your “absolutist” position regarding the Second Amendment. A lot of innocent people have died since that Amendment was passed, and more than a few have been in Florida.
- Forget about prayer in schools, or religion anywhere in government. The population you’re targeting comes from up North, and they’re not interested in mixing Jesus with public education.
- If Marco Rubio or Rick Scott support something, you be against it. If they’re against something, you be for it. No questions asked, no thought or consideration required. I know you’re independent, I know you think things thorugh, and I know you’r eopen to compromise. But if you’re ever feeling indecisive, just say and do the opposite of what Scott or Rubio would say or do. Trust me, you could do worse in terms of setting goalposts.
- And, most importantly…absolutely, positively dump ALL association with private prison groups, and accept that justice isn’t about incarceration and tougher laws. Stop pretending as though you’re trying to save Florida by punishing its residents, and commit yourself to ridding our state of the corruption known as privatization. The corporate police state that entities like GEO have created has made Florida’s justice system a joke in the eyes of the nation, and we’re sick of being more afraid of the cops than of the criminals.
- Also, please don’t let Donald Trump into any more of your fundraisers. Seriously. Call Warren Buffett or something.
Do all those things, and you’ve all but won this election. Promise. Florida is ready for a Democratic government, and ready to be freed of the yoke of corporate control. We’re ready to be welcomed back into the civilized world, and to no longer be the laughingstock of the nation. We’re ready for you, if you’re ready to do what it takes for us.
But we’re also ready to call you out in a heartbeat if you don’t utterly renounce anything that remotely sniffs of Teabaggerdom, or if you take a dime from corporate interests that profit from our suffering. We may be a bit broke, but a million Floridians with $5 donate just as much as one corporate tyrant with $5 million.
But if you can…if you’re willing…you’ve got the full support of Americans Against the Tea Party, and at least one bald guy in the Republican stronghold of North Central Florida.
Just something to think about.