Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Copyright © 2011 Sun-Sentinel
From our peninsula in paradise, the dispute over the debt ceiling, government spending and deficit reduction looks like a carnival of conflict for an audience coping with a political form of dissociative identity disorder. Florida’s paradoxically conflicting representation mirrors the multiple personalities of partisan posturing terrorizing our nation from the Washington stage.
So as President Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner compete for the same audience, Floridians have cut, capped and balanced our own state’s voice to match that of the nation.
Voters statewide have elected conservative boy-next-door, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio; Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, a progressive-leaning, former space shuttle crew member who’s actually orbited our planet; and all-business, no-pleasure Gov. Rick Scott, whose actions are so unexplainable he appears to be on another planet entirely.
The married voices of these three men, who speak on behalf of the same constituency, produce such a cacophony of contradictions, so divergent in views, a kaleidoscope couldn’t create the prism of opinion they cast upon the voters they have in common.
Tea party, Democrat or Republican, we have the best of everything, as the Palm Beach County Visitors Bureau would say. It doesn’t matter if these three represent you, me or no one at all. If you vote in Florida, you have a horse in any race you believe may wreck your right to a good life.
If your passion is to cut government spending so the destitute and disadvantaged do not burden the powerful and privileged, come soak it up in Florida’s sun. If you believe the muscle of a middle class is made up of the good of the many and dependent on the wealth of a few, we’ve got a guy for you. Rubio will labor diligently to keep government out of your business. Nelson will work tirelessly to lock government out of your bedroom. And Scott will gut government with one hand as he gives his adopted state a contemptuous wave with the other.
And, for our convenience, Florida’s electorate divides conveniently into three, sometimes-overlapping political geographies – north and west Florida, the I-4 corridor and South Florida – so your candidate need only combine two of three schizophrenic messages with a job-creation tag and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him.
All of these back-to-back performances coming out of the White House and Capitol Hill serve only to reinforce the fear that we are flying without a net, and politicians are not getting people back to work or building confidence in our country. And that is no party at all.
Tony Plakas is the CEO of Compass, the gay and lesbian community center of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches.