I’ve been watching with some amusement from half a world away, Senator Bill Nelson obsession with Russia which mirrors the types of conspiracy-laden conversations that take place on CNN panels. Nelson’s obsession this week with all things Russia while he continues to trail Governor Rick Scott in what is supposed to the a Democratic wave year, while Floridians are concerned about wage inequality, climate change, social security and other matters of local import indicates how isolated and out-of-touch he’s become again.
Senator Nelson’s rustiness in terms of running a vigorous campaign is now being exposed in 2006 and 2012 he faced weak Republicans – in fact, in 2006 he faced the weakest possible Republican elected official in the ENTIRE state in Katherine Harris. Add to that a historic Democratic wave and he coasted to relection. Now in 2018, it’s shaping up to be another Democratic year but Rick Scott is as popular as any GOP official in this state currently – the effort by the Democrats and allied groups to define Governor Scott for the last eight years have miserably failed. He will leave office barring some catastrophe far more popular than he entered the Governorship, or when he ran for a second term.
Scott’s ability to emerge as a popular figure is among the clearest examples of the ineptitude of the Democratic Party and aligned groups in the state. Not only have Democrats lost 17 of the last 18 elections for Governor or Cabinet, but they’ve managed to make Scott, someone the party was dying to run against eight years ago, a statewide juggernaut.
Against this backdrop, Senator Nelson facing a real tough race for the first time in 18 years, isn’t talking issues aggressively enough, or embracing forcefully the type of progressive policies that could motivate voters to turn our against Scott and the GOP. Instead he’s talking about….RUSSIA! Whenever the Democrats feel they don’t want to talk issues or want to create some context to why we should all united behind flawed messengers and messages it’s always RUSSIA!
This isn’t to say Russia has not meddled in and will not continue to try to influence Florida elections. Chances are, particularly with the large Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian diaspora in southern Florida that the state is on the minds of officials in Moscow and their allies. But it’s a rather minor thing to obsesses about so publicly for so long – however it mirrors the type of spinning, excuse-making and lack of accountability that has infected the Democrats both in Florida and nationally.
I am tired of hearing about Russia. Sure they’re trying to meddle in US elections and need to be stopped – but Democrats forget President Obama after Mitt Romeny’s (correct) calls about Russia in 2012 publicly joked that the 1980’s want its Cold War back – and that after being burnt Obama’s Administration had such an extreme reaction to Russia that any nation-state with the ability to meddle in the US would.
Russia is doing some terrible things in terms of election meddling (among other things – nuclear proliferation in the nonaligned world is something Russia is encouraging under the table currently and not being held to account on, for example…), but it isn’t doing anything that was not learned from the behavior of the Anglo-American leadership that has meddled in elections and domestic politics of nations all over the planet for a century – including in Russia itself. I find the moral indignation from so many in our country about Russia hypocritical – no nation-state has violated the sovereignty and electoral integrity of other nations more than the United States in the last 70 years. No nation has disrespected instituions in other nations and the national interest of other pwoerful nation-states as much as the United States.
But enough about that, back to this race. Nelson’s inability to properly articulate himself or motivate core Democrats to come out for him now is taking on a pathetic look. The Senator has lost his sense of what motivates the public in this state to turn out for Democrats like himself. It’s pretty clear that a Nelson win in November will only occur if Scott has a terrible unforced error in the closing months of the campaign, or the “blue wave,” is so great it carries him through. Otherwise, he’s pretty close to be being toast if he continues to campaign unconvincingly and appear so lackluster in public.