As ordinary Americans went about their business on Wednesday, extraordinary developments were taking place in the nation’s capital and in Tallahassee.
In Washington, D.C., a Republican majority took their seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and a strengthened but still minority GOP contingent moved into the U.S. Senate. In Florida, an overwhelming Republican majority resumes control of the Legislature, along with a GOP governor.
So the Republicans are mostly in charge, except for the presence of President Barack Obama, and most likely all the political and economic evils that visited us will now be exorcised from our midst and we shall all live happily ever after.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that jobs will be more plentiful than they were with a Democratic majority in the U.S. House. They were not more plentiful at all under the previous Legislature and governor, all controlled by Republicans.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that houses will no longer be foreclosed upon and Americans who have fallen on hard times will get to stay in their homes. Nothing will be done in Washington about that and it will not be done in Tallahassee.
In fact, the good folks in the Legislature resolved to deal with the foreclosure crisis by creating a special foreclosure court that handles what has become known as the “rocket docket” which, in many cases, takes about 30 seconds to kick an American family out of their home and give it to the bank.
What we can certainly expect from Washington is an intensification of the ideological warfare that was being waged while the Democrats controlled the two houses. We can expect more of the shameful pandering to Big Business and Wall Street that was seen over the past two years and which led to the GOP holding hostage a Democratic plan to extend unemployment benefits so as to extend a 10-year-old tax break to the rich worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
What we can expect from the Legislature is a continued onslaught on the needy and an acceleration of the pace at which corporations can impose their will on Floridians.
Gov. Rick Scott has declared war on supposedly unwieldy business regulation, big government and high taxation in his thrust to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. If Floridians benefit from these policies, Gov. Scott will be hugely successful, but that is a big if. He has also opened an offensive against revered institutions such as public universities and public hospitals. Careful planning may yield positive results for those who rely heavily on these institutions that provide services to Florida’s masses. Carelessness will produce catastrophy.
In that drive for jobs, the governor must be reminded of two words: slavery and communism. Both of those could boast strong records when it came to “employment” but they also showed that there can be a really heavy price.
No one elected Gov. Scott to be a dictator or a slave master. Neither the people now in Congress nor he and the Legislature were elected to create America Inc. and Florida Inc.
Policy decisions must be considered against the backdrop of how they impact the lives of ordinary Americans. Our nation’s strength, and the true measure of statesmanship, must be not that one side can pull something over the other – you pass healthcare and we’ll repeal healthcare – or political gain. It must be how we treat the least of these.
That, sadly, is not spoken much about these days.