Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

When partisans surprise us, maybe we can be a little hopeful

It seemed so obvious in November. Almost as if the narrative had been written in advance, and the roles were perfectly cast.

The Supreme Court justice? She was an activist in a jurist's cloak. A progressive appointee of a previous governor. She needed to be taken down in a retention vote.

Florida's governor? He was a conservative puppet. An ideologue in charge of the Republican Party's voter suppression plan. He needed to be ridiculed at every turn.

Or so went the partisan view of life.

A lot of Republicans seemed certain about Justice Barbara Pariente's liberal leanings, and a whole bunch of Democrats swore Gov. Rick Scott was an intractable zealot.

And so I wonder how many jaws hit the floor this week.

It was Thursday afternoon when the hyper-partisan governor agreed that Republican lawmakers erred when they cut early voting days. And that was right after the Democrat-appointed justice sided with the conservative opinion in a case involving state pensions.

Now you may disagree with the governor's reversal, or you may be furious with the justice's decision, but maybe there is another dynamic worth considering.

Try looking at it this way:

Is it a bad thing when the folks in Tallahassee surprise us?

I mean, partisan politics have become so ingrained in our lives that we can usually predict the outcome of any issue that crosses our path.

Seeing an R or a D attached to someone's name is like watching a movie that has been given a G rating. You kind of know what to expect before the first words are spoken.

That's why Republicans should accept that the governor turned his back on their election maneuvering. And that's why Democrats should not feel betrayed by this Supreme Court decision. If you accuse the other side of never backing down, you cannot act indignant when your own side takes a shot at being open-minded.

Now before you start shouting, I'm aware this probably wasn't a Kumbaya moment for Scott. It had as much to do with election day backlash, and perhaps seeing Charlie Crist's doppelganger hovering near the Governor's Mansion, as any bipartisan epiphany.

But that doesn't mean it isn't noteworthy. After all, the airwaves are littered with disgraced politicians who refused to back down in the face of logic and decency. (Hey there, Allen West!)

What's encouraging is that these are not the only cases of pols gone mild. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford have been pushing for campaign finance reforms, an issue not terribly popular for any party in power.

Now maybe they don't pull it off. Or, worse, maybe this turns out to be posturing. But, for a change, I'm going the optimistic route.

Just the idea that Republican leaders are willing to shine a spotlight on an issue that may not be in their best interests is pretty remarkable given the completely graceless direction of our most recent legislative sessions.

So are these the first signs of a new era?


I would assume, more times than not, issues will continue to be divided along party lines in the coming year. The friction will be real, the bickering will be distasteful.

But, if nothing else, we now have examples of the possibilities. We have seen public servants make unpopular calls. We have seen partisan politics get left behind.

We have reason to be hopeful.

When partisans surprise us, maybe we can be a little hopeful 01/19/13 [Last modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 9:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht


    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]
  2. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group


    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win


    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  4. Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River


    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a Navy Seal team member fell to his death Sunday after his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River.

    Officials surround a U.S. Navy Seal's parachute that landed in a parking lot after the parachutist fell into the Hudson River when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the river in Jersey City, N.J. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. [Joe Shine | Jersey Journal via AP]
  5. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move


    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]