As the gloom of four more years of Rick Scott settles over the state, I once again contemplated what horrors may be ahead. Many think that Scott, with no re-election restraints hanging over him, will return to his Tea Party roots and once again become the kind of terror that slashed funds for disabled children and rape crisis centers.
I certainly think we need to be prepared for that possibility, and I respect the views of those who think this will be the case. It isn't at all far-fetched. But I proposed earlier in a comment here that maybe Scott would instead turn his focus towards enriching himself as much as he could (such as by encouraging fracking in the Everglades) rather than cutting budget items. That's because I believe that Scott is truly a man of no principles, save his own personal gain: It seems to me the best way to explain why he abandoned his Tea Party promises like the Arizona-style immigration law, and verbally approved of other things that his Tea Party base found offensive, like Medicaid expansion. It is also why he calls himself pro-life even after making money off abortions at HCA.
After some thought, I'd like to propose a reason why this seems a more likely approach, and one we can hope will be true (although in the same sense we might hope to be hit with a fiddle instead of with a grand piano). Oddly enough, the nationwide GOP may be our best (albeit unwitting) ally in keeping Scott leashed. And no, it's not because they care about us -- it's because they care about their own skins.
The GOP knows it needs Florida to win the Presidency in 2016. This is not in question. They need Texas AND Florida to balance the electoral weight of New York and California. Otherwise, they may as well not even field a candidate.
Scott called in several GOP Presidential hopefuls to aid his campaign: Perry, Christie, Jindal, Bush, Rubio. Walker probably would have been here too, if he had not been running himself in Wisconsin. In 2012, even a year or so after the worst of Scott's atrocities, Scott was so toxic that the GOP breathed a sigh of relief when a hurricance gave Scott the perfect excuse for not speaking at the GOP convention in Tampa. But now, they have staked their fate for the 2016 race on Scott by standing shoulder to shoulder with him.
What does this mean? Speaking figuratively, we can imagine a scene on Scott's campaign bus where Christie is taking Scott by the scruff of the neck and saying, "Don't screw this up for us." (Again, you didn't think they were here because they cared about the people of Florida, did you?) If Scott returns to the highest grade of toxicity, the same he had in his first years, the GOP Presidential aspirations will wither away gruesomely, like chaff under fire. As it is, in 2012, they couldn't take Florida while Scott's toxicity was slowly waning and the atrocities like budget cuts to disabled children were still fresh in our memories. The GOP, with their "wave" of 2014 wins, is under the miscroscope to perform, and needs to have the next two years with Florida's citizens thinking happy thoughts about Scott. Cutting funds to disabled children won't accomplish that.
But do these GOP hopefuls have anything to hold over Scott if he does not behave, you may ask? Yes, I think so. Scott may or may not have political ambitions beyond being governor, but if he does have any, they will be quashed if he does not do exactly what the national GOP wants, or if he embarrasses them. But even if he has no such ambitions, the GOP could still make things hard on his private holdings in various states. And of course, even if they can't hold anything over Scott, they could still take sanctions over whoever wants to be Scott's successor. Make no mistake -- when he rubbed shoulders with the GOP hopefuls, Scott stuck his head in a velvet vise that could as easily give him a massage as snap his neck in two.
Speaking as an Independent voter, I'd recommend that Democrats keep in mind, and keep at the fore, how Christie, Jindal, Perry, Rubio and Bush repeated Scott's campaign lies. Those lies could be used to discredit each of them on a nationwide scale, if any of them manages to capture the GOP nomination. (That also assumes Perry stays out of jail.) But for the present, I'm suggesting that Florida's position in the national election scene may stave off the worst of Scott's possible actions. It may even make him relatively tame, but perhaps that is hoping too much.
We can only hope this is a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy forecast for Florida's future.