For years, the Republican Party, both in Florida and throughout the United States, have compared Democrats to Socialists, Communists and every other political faction associated with the former Iron Curtain. And during those years, Republicans have used it to rally their base. We on the left just look at them, shake our heads, and laugh at them.
But what if we were to put the shoe on the other foot? I feel, in the way that the Republican Party of Florida runs their political organization, they are much more similar to a dominant-party system style that we see in former Communist countries, such as Russia, than the Democracy that we live in here in the United States.
Let’s examine this further, shall we?
First, we have the Florida Legislature. When the Republicans took control in the mid-1990s, they never had any intention of playing fair. Similar to what was going on in Texas, the Republican-led Florida legislature passed a highly lopsided map for the State House, Senate and Congress in 2002. Basically, they assured they would win all of those for the next ten years. This blatant gerrymandering lead to the Fair District laws that we have today.
Fast forward to 2012. The GOP-lead Legislature does the exact same thing in 2012 as they did ten years previously. They create the redistricting maps so that they are assured the majority. But this time, the new law is in place. But, as we learned last week, the courts agreed with the GOP and passed the maps anyway, giving the Republicans another 10 years of success.
As was mentioned in previous articles, because the Florida Supreme Court blatantly disobeyed the law, it was no different that letting Ted Bundy get away with murder. Honestly, in a pure legal sense, it was exactly the same thing. Therefore, the courts are on the Republican’s side as well.
This is where everything ties in with a dominant-party system. First, we have a legislature that is highly disproportionate compared the statewide election results. Currently, 67.5% of the House is controlled by the Republicans. In the State Senate, the Republicans control 70%. If someone where to compare all the statewide races in Florida since 2000, not once have the Republicans even come close to having a candidate win 67.5-70% of the vote. Only one Republican statewide, Connie Mack III, won his 1994 Senate seat with 70% of the vote. No other Republican candidate even comes close.
So, we have established that the make up of the Florida Legislature doesn’t even nearly resemble the partisan make up of the state (a vital component missing in the Fair Districts law).
Now, let’s look at the Florida Supreme Court. As we have just mentioned, the Court has sided with the Republicans, even though the law clearly states that a redistricting plan (not just districts, but plan) cannot favor a political party. But, of course, the courts absolutely ignored the laws that are on the books. What kind of form of government do we live in when the highest court in the land blatantly and with total disrespect ignores the laws, and a constitution law at that, which is supposed to be the highest law in the land? And since the Florida Supreme Court is the end-all of all things legal, there is nothing we can do. If we heard this was going on in some less-developed country, we would be up in arms talking about how people’s freedoms were taken away. We complain about Russia operating this way. But in Florida, we just turn the other cheek.
Even with this pure power-play by the Republicans in the Legislature as well as the ill-educated or partisan Florida Supreme Court, Republicans will argue that “Democrats just need to win and then they can control the agenda.” Again, the Republicans have made that mathematically impossible. The only possible way for this trend to reverse is for a Democratic governor to be elected and people vote “no” on Supreme Court justices.
But even there the Democrats have a problem.
First, let’s look at the judges. Unlike an “elected position” campaign, where you have a number of candidates on the ballot, the Supreme Court vote is a retention vote. Candidates can form committees and have a campaign organized to support themselves. But who’s responsibility is it to organize a “no” campaign to get rid of, let’s say, Charles Canady. Is it the party? Is it an organization? The logistical mess in organizing a campaign to vote “no” makes it nearly impossible to run an reliable campaign. Therefore, Supreme Court Justices are always retained. So we can forget about that.
Now let’s look at the Governor’s Mansion. This one is easier for Republicans to argue. They will say “recruit a good candidate and just win the race.” Again, that is easier than it looks. When the Republicans control the redistricting process they, in essence, control who the Democrats elect. Because they compact all the Democratic voters in one district, they make it that the only Democrats elected are usually more liberal than the state in general. Therefore, the Democrats were to nominate a gubernatorial candidate from Congress or the Florida Legislature, it would be hard to find anyone that is more of a moderate and can appeal to the State of Florida. I’m sorry, but Alan Grayson would never win a statewide election, period.
With the exception of nominating mayors or county commissioners, candidates that have no name ID at all, who do the Democrats pick? In addition, because the Republicans have double the numbers in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, they have twice as many potential candidates for other offices once they are term limited, especially for governor. Therefore, the redistricting process is directly related to who is elected governor. The only exception is if someone is personally wealthy, like Rick Scott or Jeb Bush. We don’t have as many 1%ers as they do.
And speaking of the 1%, that brings us down to the last dynamic, which is money. Most of the money that is pumped into political campaigns, especially in Florida Legislative races, come from PACs and corporations. When these entities contribute, they don’t do it because they “like the candidate”. They do it because they are betting on who will win. Consider it more of an “investment” than a contribution. And when one party controls 67.5% of one legislative chamber and 70% of another chamber, where would the average “investor” put their money? Exactly, in the Republican Party.
So, the Republicans have the Florida Legislature, the courts, the contributors and can control the Democratic Party nomination process by making less Democrats available to run for higher office or “district-out” potential candidates by making them run in Republican seats. If this doesn’t smell like a dominant-party system, I don’t know what does.
When one thinks of a dominant party system, there are five countries/parties that specifically come to mind: The Institutional Revolutionary Party of Mexico, United Russia, The Indian National Congress, The African National Congress and the Chinese Nationalist Party in Taiwan. But there is a huge difference between these and the current dominant-party system in Florida. In these countries, the people actually wanted these parties in power. And while their level of success might have varied, the number of seats that they had in their legislative races were proportionate to the will of the electorate.
In Florida, Obama wins the state in 2008, yet the Republicans win 63.3% of the Florida House and 65% of the Florida Senate. Therefore, I would argue that the dominant-party system in Florida, which is almost a one-party system, is much, much worse than the examples that I mentioned above.
So next time you hear a Republican complaining that President Obama is a Communist, you might want to ask them why do they run the State of Florida like Joseph Stalin. Now you have the facts…time to throw that “Communist card” right bad in their face.