I know that in sports, some players are “All Americans.” In Florida, Governor Rick Scott might be considered “All Republican.” He follows the script of today’s GOP (a party that bears little resemblance to the GOP I once knew and supported), but without the finesse that allows other Republican lawmakers to at least pretend they care about their constituents, and that their policies, however damaging, are based on good intentions.
Scott has been everything you’d expect from a sleaze who–before turning to electoral politics–admitt to 14 counts of Medicare fraud and paid the federal government more than $600 million dollars in fines.
A couple of days ago, the Tampa Bay Times issued a blistering critique of Scott, calling him the worst governor in Florida’s history. Titled “If He Only Had a Heart,” it’s well worth reading in its entirety, but I’ll just share the summary:
In Scott’s Florida, it is harder for citizens to vote and for the jobless to collect unemployment. It is easier for renters to be evicted and for borrowers to be charged high interest rates on short-term loans. It is harder for patients to win claims against doctors who hurt them and for consumers to get fair treatment from car dealers who deceive them. It is easier for businesses to avoid paying taxes, building roads and repairing environmental damage.
Scott may lack their talent to project a “kinder, gentler” facade, but there is an entire cohort of Republican governors operating from the same playbook.
Most, like Indiana’s governor, are much smoother, but the agenda is same.
Okay–no big post today. Today is fingernail-biting/pundit-watching/whatever-happens-it’s- finally-over day. There will be time to chew over the results later.
A friend sent me an email with a small medallion attached; it said “Stay calm and trust Nate Silver.” Good advice–if not for the nagging concerns raised by the widespread efforts at voter suppression and intimidation. I can’t help contrasting two governors: Andrew Cuomo in New York, and Rick Scott in Florida. In the wake of storm Sandy, Cuomo has issued an executive order allowing New Yorkers to vote at any polling place. They just need to submit an affidavit that they are registered, and that the storm damaged their usual voting site. In contrast, Florida Governor Rick Scott has “purged” voter rolls of thousands of properly registered citizens, mostly minorities, and closed down early voting sites.
I hope the response to Scott and the others, like Ohio Secretary of State Husted, is a greater determination to exercise the franchise they are trying so hard to deny to the “wrong kind” of voters.
We’ll know later tonight.
Linda Greenhouse’s column in this morning’s New York Times discusses an absolutely appalling policy being applied in Florida. It is aimed at illegal immigration, but I hesitate to classify it as an immigration policy, because it is aimed squarely at young citizens whose parents lack documentation. The state refuses to authorize residential tuition rates for these young resident citizens who enroll at Florida’s public colleges.
It’s as if Worf, from Star Trek the Next Generation, is making policy in Florida. Klingons, as you may (or may not) recall, believe that “dishonor” passes from parent to child. Several episodes of the series drew their dramatic impact from the viewers’ sense of the terrible injustice of holding Worf responsible for crimes his father was alleged to have committed.
Klingons are fictional. Rick Scott, the criminal who is governor of Florida (I use the word deliberately; his company defrauded Medicare of billions) unfortunately is not.
As Greenhouse notes, the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids punishing children for the crimes of their parents.
““Corruption of blood” was a familiar feature of the common law in England. A person found guilty of treason and certain other crimes would be barred from passing his estate on to his children, who would thus inherit nothing but the corrupted blood line. The framers of the United States Constitution considered and forcefully rejected the concept. Article III, the judiciary article, contains this sentence: “The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attained.” As James Madison expressed the thought more directly at the time, the purpose was to prevent Congress “from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of its author.”
There are two questions here, both pertinent: Where was Florida’s Attorney General while officials were deciding to implement a policy so clearly at odds with what the Constitution requires? And perhaps more importantly, what happened to these policymakers’ human decency?
Is this what America is becoming–a society where the search for knowledge that is ultimately what makes us human–is displaced by training for worker ants?