The Audacity To Be Independent
It’s about that time again. It’s almost the time of year for corrupt politicians to stuff the ballot box and legitimize it by stating that there were “glitches” in the system. Or better yet, turn away voters in predominately minority precincts by telling them that they are not registered to vote. Okay maybe that was just Florida in 2000. I may have only been 10 at the time, but I knew a farce when I saw one. My father always said, “If it looked like a fish and smelled like a fish, then it was a fish”. Using my father’s logic and applying it to politics makes Governor Charlie Crist’s recent switch from the Republican party to Independent look like a Whale. Although I am a proponent of ideological diversity and usually eschew two-party politics, I have a real disdain for political opportunism. Charlie Crist is as about as opportunistic as Michael Steele Machiavelli. Because the uber-conservative Marco Rubio seemed to pose a real threat to the U.S. Senate seat that was supposedly being warmed by his former chief-of staff George Lemieux, he jumped ship like a bloodthirsty pirate.
As Governor of Florida, Crist built up a reputation for being a centrist who was not afraid to buck the Republic establishment. But whenever his bucking caused a stir with the G.O.P. bigwigs he always reversed positions to save face. In his 2006 gubernatorial campaign he took a firm stance in opposition against offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. However, after the Republican slogan of “drill baby, drill” began to resonate with the right, Crist reversed his position. Like a true flip-flopper, Crist told the press that his decision to reverse was based on empathy for his constituents: “I mean, let’s face it, the price of gas has gone through the roof, and Florida families are suffering, and my heart bleeds for them.” Since the oil spill Crist has stated that offshore drilling “has to be tabled” for sure. To be me this all sounds like the phrase that rhymes with pull hit.
Just when I thought that I could remove Crist from the Joe Lieberman category he returned to true form and disappointed me. Although most Republican Governors were bluffing about the stimulus money, Crist welcomed President Obama and the federal stimulus money to the Sunshine State with open arms, only to later play down his support of the package. I guess it was nothing more than a glamorized photo op.
I did not write this post just to lambaste Crist, but to use him as an example of the despicable practice of political opportunism. People like Charlie Crist and Joe Lieberman help de-legitimize the viability of a true Independent candidate’s candidacy. Running as an independent should not be a last resort, but rather a well thought out decision. A person who runs as an Independent should not be trying to buy time to restructure their campaign before the general election, rather, they should be focusing on policy issues and not politics. I would love to see more independents run for office. Heck, it would be nice if all candidate’s- local, state, and federal- were Independent. This would force the constituency to actually do their homework on the candidates and their positions and not just vote on party lines. Similarly, it would force the candidate to come up with his or her own positions and not just regurgitate the talking points of the party.
Maybe I’m asking too much. However, I will continue to push for candidates who have the audacity to be Independent!