In the first gubernatorial debate between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist, Scott refused to walk on stage to start the debate because he thought the electric fan on Crist’s podium constituted an unfair advantage.
Since this so-called “fangate,” polls have been favoring Charlie Crist to win Florida’s gubernatorial elections, though the race is still tight. It was not just this gaffe, but also the content of the debates that led to Scott losing ground.
To some, it may seem like Scott’s mistakes were a result of improper media training or just some personality quirks coming out at an inopportune time. The truth, however, is that these gaffes are indicative of the kind of administration Rick Scott has run while governor and the opportunistic policies he’s implemented.
Scott’s entire campaign depends on a platform of being a job-centric governor. He stated various times in the gubernatorial debates that he has been talking with corporations, trying to convince them to move to Florida by offering huge corporate tax cuts. The problem is, many of these jobs haven’t materialized, and few companies have actually moved because of anything Scott has done.
Meanwhile, he ignores questions on raising the minimum wage. Paying people a livable wage would not create job loss, because if Florida’s residents have more income, they’ll spend more money in Florida businesses, creating an increase in demand across the board.
Despite Rick Scott’s muddled argument that the state government can actually create jobs in the private sector, the truth is that only the consumers’ demand for product will lead businesses to hire more. This is because they will actually need that labor to produce enough for the increased demand. Scott cutting corporate taxes means that big businesses get to pocket money at the expense of workers, consumers and programs that benefit the entire state.
The programs that he has cut in the name of fiscal responsibility are ones vital to the economic and social wellbeing of Florida. Principal among those is education. Scott continues to restrict eligibility for and suck money out of the Bright Futures Scholarship, a merit-based fund that helps high school students attend public Florida universities. In doing so, he’s taking away this state’s bright future.
He also doesn’t support funding for clean solar energy like Crist does because he continues not to acknowledge the havoc that climate change is already wreaking on Florida’s environment and economy.
The pettiness of fangate is simply indicative of the pettiness with which Scott runs his administration. He panders to corporate interests and ignores the needs of the people. The biggest criticism of Crist is that he has changed parties. But as Crist’s campaign puts it best, “It’s not about right versus left – it’s about right versus wrong.”
Annie Cappetta is a freshman majoring in political science.