Rick Scott⎯being both mega-rich and the former CEO of a health insurance company, (a) no longer knows what matters to average people, and (b) probably wouldn’t care if he did.
He is able to navigate in that ethereal world divorced from the daily concerns of basic survival and getting along in a community with one’s neighbors. In fact, Rick Scott can hole up in the governor’s mansion, dream up all manner of unworkable ideas and attempt to foist them on the state of Florida, like Lex Luthor from the Superman comics working his will on a miniaturized version of Metropolis that he has imprisoned inside a corked water cooler bottle.
The members of the legislature, most of whom are also Republicans, view the affairs of state through a much more mundane prism. Unlike Scott, who apparently isn’t concerned about getting reelected to a second term, they not only want to remain and prosper in politics, but they must also return frequently to their home districts to face constituents (a notoriously fickle lot).
As if that weren’t enough, State Senate President Mike Haridopolos is running for U.S. Senate. For that, he’ll need to appeal to all us bumpkins, not just those in his home district.
It is this difference in aspirations and world-views that will provide all the excitement in this year’s legislative session. Everyone knows that “Cut, cut, cut” is the war cry this year. At the same time, if some program dear to the hearts of local district voters is gutted, it won’t be Scott who hears the screams. For that reason, too, it will be hard for a state rep or senator to justify Scott’s desire to give massive tax cuts to state businesses when, say, schools are going begging.
Already, Scott’s stances on the prescription painkiller database and high-speed rail have left members of his own party fuming and scratching their heads. It’s easy to envision legislators turning Scott into a convenient scapegoat for all the state’s ills once the natives get restless.
As I said earlier, he doesn’t care. In the hands of a statesman, not caring about one’s reelection can be a powerful weapon for good. In the hands of lesser mortals, it can be the prescription for a train wreck of historic proportions.