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Mixing hubris with arrogance can make for a dangerous cocktail. As Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Legislature wake up from a rough Tuesday night, they should accept that their election-day wounds are at least partly self-inflicted.
First, they misplayed their voter-suppression efforts. In a cunning plan to tilt the election to favor Republicans, they set out to shorten early voting days and hours while simultaneously filling the ballot with amendments intended to slow the voting process.
Longer ballots and less time to vote would mean long lines. They assumed that Democrat-leaning voters who prefer early and election-day voting would simply walk away from lengthy waits, thus abdicating the election to absentee ballot-loving Republicans.
They must not have teenage daughters. If they did, they would know that telling someone they can’t do something is the surest way of inspiring them to do it.
Many elderly, minorities, veterans and young people realized that ol’ Rick Scott was trying to wait them out. So rather than give in, they stood up –- for as long as necessary -- some enduring lines for hours and hours and well into the night, refusing to relent to a craven governor.
And among the angry voters on these seven-hour lines were lots of Independents and Republicans who were themselves pretty perturbed at Scott and his cabal.
Where did these captive voters direct their anger? Just consider that in Miami-Dade County, where the lines were the very longest, Obama won by more than 200,000 votes, a huge increase over his 2008 total and a primary reason he won Florida.
When the dust settled, both the President and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson carried the state, and the Republican Legislature lost their super-majority.
But their plan didn’t just backfire by inspiring a voter’s revolt. It also caused some other collateral damage to the Republican agenda.
Those long amendments were, for the most part, the entire platform of the Republican Party of Florida. I guess they expected voters to reflexively support their attacks on Obamacare (Amendment 1), their opposition to reproductive rights (Amendment 6), their support of vouchers (Amendment 8), their antipathy toward an independent supreme court (Amendment 5) and their love of draconian revenue limits (Amendment 3).
Rather than respond like lemmings, Floridians actually read the amendments (maybe the long lines gave them lots of free time to study them). And Floridians rejected them outright. The amendments failed to earn 50 percent voter approval, much less the 60 percent needed to make it into the Constitution.
In many respects, Floridians didn’t just rebuff the Republicans’ nominee for president, they also specifically rejected the right-wing policies that have formed the template for the Republican agenda in Tallahassee.
So now, how exactly does the Legislature and Scott expect to argue for their ideas when Floridians have rejected them in a statewide ballot?
Are we going to continue getting assaults on the courts even though Floridians voted against their anti-court ideas by nearly a two-to-one margin? Will Scott continue to refuse to implement Obamacare now that his constituents declined to vote to opt out?
How does the Legislature pursue its expansion of school vouchers when Floridians defeated Amendment 8 so overwhelmingly? And the same goes for limitations on a woman’s right to chose, and tax policy.
How can the Republican Legislature and Scott advance these ideas when they just put them on a statewide ballot and their constituents rejected them?
Yes, Tuesday night was a good night for Democrats, but a far better night for Floridians because it allowed us to stand up to the arrogant bosses in Tallahassee and tell them precisely how we feel about their policies and their scheme to suppress our vote.
Now we’ll see if they get the message.
Special Message from Dan Gelber's "Little Brother"- Travis Thomas
Web Video: Bio Piece on Dan Gelber
Sen. Gelber debates against two amendments to HB 1143 that took aim at a woman's right to privacy
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