Almost three weeks later, the question lingers but there’s still no “right” answer. Plagued by a host of problems that only got worse over the last two years with conservative Republicans in majority control of state government, why did Florida voters use the 2010 election to give them even larger majorities?
Like a battered person who after being repeatedly abused for years chooses to remain in a destructive relationship rather than ending it, some voters seem oblivious to the pain and damage that has been inflicted for years on almost all Floridians – except the very richest – by the Republican Party of Florida.
But before Democrats and non-voters get any more discouraged than they already are, note that there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Because while abusive co-dependent relationships are all too common, that in no way means they represent the typical, more constructive majority of human behavior.
Case in point: Less than 30-percent of Florida’s nearly 19 million residents voted in the 2010 general election. And even though significantly more votes went to Republicans than Democrats, in the end it was only about one in 7 Floridians overall that rewarded the party responsible for the failures of state government in recent years – the GOP – by granting them virtually unchecked new powers moving forward.
In their defense, I don’t believe that very many one-in-sevens actually meant to give any kind of love, much less a mandate to their Republican abusers. I think they just jumped at an opportunity to let the world know how tired they were after two years of feeling forced into an unwanted blind date threesome with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.
The federal health care reform plan has done no harm to any of those folks. In fact, it may have already let their sick children get insurance for the first time, or let their older kids just out of college get covered by Mom and/or Dad’s insurance for the first time. But most one-in-sevens are so unaccustomed to and suspicious of being treated with compassion by their government that they were turned against health reform anyway.
Federal stimulus funds have been spent in Florida on things like rebuilding roads and bridges, clean energy initiatives, and saving the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters. But once again, most one-in-sevens are so used to a Republican-run state government that lets infrastructure crumble, promotes only Big Oil, and ignores the unemployment crisis, they mistrust anything different. And so they were turned against it.
But wait a minute. Red Alert. Just last Tuesday, in a special legislative session, the new Republican super-majority voted to use thirty-odd million dollars of – sit down, take a deep breath – federal stimulus money, to help give thousands of homeowners the rebates they’d applied for and never received for installing solar heating & cooling systems.
Maybe that opens the door a crack and lets one-in-sevens see that it took a more caring federal government to do what their callous state government would not. Or maybe they’ll think the GOP has suddenly turned compassionate, and stop trusting them. Either way, take heart, because I think some of those one-in-sevens might just get riled up enough to finally help the re-energized rest of us kick a whole lot of Republican abusers – and a few Democratic enablers – right out of the House, and Senate, come 2012.