If Charlie Crist is as good at being a Democrat as he is at being a punching bag, he’ll be the next governor of Florida. If he is only as good as “just trying to be a good Republican,” Florida’s going to end up with Gov. Rick Scott for another four years.
Crist changes political positions with the ease and patience of a yoga master, and it only takes a road trip through topsy-turvy Florida to understand why.
During an interview last week, in response to a question about his previous record supporting bans on same-sex marriage, he said he no longer supports them.
“He was just trying to be a good Republican.” His comment ran through the gay press like a shot heard around the world. For many Floridians, however, his statement went in one ear and out the other because we barely lift an eyebrow when he strikes a new pose.
Crist won’t quit no matter what position he has to reverse. For all his wiggling and wobbling, he wants to represent Florida, and Florida is a swinger. So then, why wouldn’t Floridians fall for the guy known for an uncanny inclination to swing? He’s our political version of a “bad boy” – breaking party rules, crossing party lines – but no matter how many times we break up with him, he turns on that charm, says what some want to hear – and bam – we are “seeing” each other again.
We all say we like our moderates, but they only get elected by chance or become moderate once they “work across the aisle.” We want our elected officials to play well with others, so long as the others with whom they play hold our views. And we throw our “flip floppers” under the bus, even when they switch to our team.
Crist changed political affiliation three times. Three. Let’s get the shock and awe out of the way. He’s bound to start coming out about all sorts of issues he once clung to tightly to stay in that comfy closet built for him years ago by extremists supporting the Republican Party.
This is just the beginning. For Florida moderates and liberals who want to win a statewide general election, any opponent to Charlie Crist is bound to feel like a worse option. So when Crist flips, flops – or in this case belly flops – we wince, we laugh and we cry alone in an election booth.
Crist’s admission he supported bans on same-sex marriage because he wanted to be a “good Republican” was a stupid thing to say – and a stupid way to say it – but it was probably more honest than any of us want to admit. We all know one too many elected Republicans who won’t openly support certain social issues because they won’t have a job after the next election.
A few months ago CNN’s Candy Crowley spoke to the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. She referenced the 2014-midterm elections and made an observation: In the throes of midterm elections we are most likely to lose the people most likely to effectively negotiate with the opposite party. During midterm elections diehard voters go after the all-or-nothing candidates, kicking out anyone who shows any sign of equivocating once we send them off to represent us.
Should liberals go after Crist now that he’s “becoming” more liberal on social issues? Should they shun him because he once said one thing and is now saying another? It’s a political pickle.
The way Crist answered one simple question about marriage equality locked him into a position no one else could, and he blamed his former position on just being a “good Republican.” If you are a diehard supporter of marriage equality, you just may want to throw this man a bouquet because he just swung your way.
This is what we get: politicians who change their mind, politicians who change their party, or both. We, the Florida electorate, swing. So if Charlie Crist is in the game, there isn’t a better state to be in than the Sunshine State, and he knows it.
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