Bubby Nevins, longtime Broward County political watcher and former Sun Sentinel political maestro has taken issue with a recent vote of Rep. George Moratis (R-Fort Lauderdale). Republican legislators voting against both the wishes of the constituencies they serve and against the wishes of local elected officials is nothing new. This has been happening since the GOP takeover of the Florida House in 1996, when Speaker Dan Webster (R-Ocoee) demanded blind ideological loyalty and purity from his troops, intimidating and cajoling more moderate and consciousness Republicans at every turn. If you voted against Webster and were a Republican you may find your office moved or parking space eliminated the next week when you returned to the Capitol. Since then the GOP has used various sometimes more subtle tactics to keep the troops in line.
What’s particularly interesting about Nevins excellent piece is how he starts his argument saying ” One problem with the capital being in Tallahassee 450 miles away is that legislators sometime vote against our interests and nobody seems to notice.”
Nevins has hit the nail on the head. For whatever reason many in southeast Florida do not know nor care about what goes on in state government, preferring to obsess about congress, foreign policy and local government if they care about politics at all. Perhaps it is arrogance, as many from southeast Florida think the area in which they live is the center of the known universe, more important New York, London and Singapore combined. When you take that ignorant mindset, why would Florida Government matter? Maybe it is because some southeast Floridians see Tallahassee as some distant small town dominated by southerners and not by the types foreign born residents and Yankees that make much of the regions population? That view is less based on bias then you might think; it is actually lack of personal comfort that drives that ignorant view. Perhaps, it is because in the eyes of some southeast Floridians are forever fixed on the Northeast US or Latin America? Regardless of these other theories it is most likely it is because many southeast Floridians lack the attention span or careful consideration of important issues particularly on the state level to really care.
Whatever the case, Nevins’ point is very well taken. Moratis is far from the first post 1996 southeast Florida Republican whose voting record does not match the needs or concerns of constituents back home. Southeast Florida needs to be aware of what happens in Tallahassee throughout the year. Unfortunately with the decline of newspapers and news bureaus, local focus on the Florida Capitol is lesser and lesser as time wears on. That is not only a pity, but a major problem as well for a region which produces the greatest margins for progressive candidates and issues throughout the state.