Will 2012 be the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? In Florida, in November, "the people" rose up and began to take back the state for representative government. But will the momentum to wallop big money and the tea party/GOP continue? Or will the good guys fizzle, as they too often do, and let the bad guys recoup their losses and then some in 2014?
The liberal gains this year exceeded anything I could have hoped for. In spite of Gov. Scott's and the Legislature's voter suppression efforts, Floridians came out in droves, stood in lines for hours, and gave President Obama a decisive victory over Mitt Romney. All the jabber about Jewish voters' abandoning the president because he allegedly isn't a friend of Israel proved to be FOX-induced hysteria.
In addition, the power of "the people" neutralized all the money spent by outside groups to unseat three state Supreme Court justices so Rick Scott could pack the court with right-wing radicals and defeated draconian amendments to the state constitution. Floridians sent an undeniable message to conspiring, carpetbagger, political fat cats: Spend your money here to soak in the sun, but don't mess with our three co-equal branches of government.
But far-and-away my super-colossal cause for celebration was the November defeat Florida voters handed to a political trifecta who never should have been elected to Congress or any office.
First, Connie Mack, the son of a former congressman and two-term U.S. senator from Florida, rode into Washington on his family name. He gave up his career as special events coordinator for Hooters and his seat in the Florida House of Representatives, then moved from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Myers to run for a sure-thing: the U.S. House seat his father once held.
Elected in 2005, he never ran a business and always depended upon a government paycheck. But that didn't curb his chutzpah from rabidly spouting free-market, entrepreneurial principles and deriding "the entitlement" society that provides for others who didn't chose their genes as wisely as he did. He would still be parked in Congress for life had he not overreached by running against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
Now, let him fend for himself, release his rugged individualism, and seize all the economic opportunity he can through his family connections — he'll need them now more than ever.
West was never a Florida choice for Congress, sad proof of what happens when money pours in from out-of-state. Mainstream voters aren't motivated to go to the polls for mid-term elections, and kooks elect kooks. An ultra-conservative, African-American former Army officer, and tea party favorite, West was a master of the photo-op and off-the-wall sound bite. I still picture him wearing a backpack made of camouflage, walking through an airport as though he were leading a charge on the nation's capital.
Shades of Joseph McCarthy, West accused the members of the Progressive Congressional Caucus of being members of the Communist Party. His two years in office were an ego trip at taxpayer expense. With his defeat, Florida voters decisively socked it to the tea party.
Third, voters in Miami-Dade finally elected Joe Garcia over ethically-challenged David Rivera, which, at a pathetic level, says more about their defense of the indefensible than his willingness to game the system. At least he's gone.
Good riddance to the bad karma of Mack, West, and Rivera.
But when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, what will the future hold? So much to do, so little time. Politically speaking, it is already Nov. 4, 2014, Election Day. Florida is at a tipping point. The next big test is whether "the people" are committed and able to self-correct our disastrous political present and fire Rick Scott.
Scott embodies Connie Mack's sense of personal entitlement, Allen West's tea party credentials, and David Rivera's ethical inferiority rolled into one, along with his unique brand of cluelessness that has allowed him to be in office for almost two years and still not "get it."
I'm counting on Nov. 4, 2014 being the end of Scott's beginning and the beginning of a life scott-free for the rest of us.
Contact Stephen L. Goldstein on Twitter at @drslgoldstein or by email at email@example.com.