Florida did not fare well under Crist the first time. The Great Recession hit the state hard and unmercifully in 2007. Sure, we were thrilled that Jeb Bush was out of office. But Crist just seemed to flounder. He just didn't seem to be working with the bad hand that had been dealt. Instead, just sort of quietly sat back to try to weather the storm until it was over. Not exactly a praiseworthy approach to deal with a crisis, but hey -- at least he didn't do anything drastic that would have long term consequences, like how the current governor Rick Scott slashed funding to education.
So now that Mr. Crist is a Democrat, I do not expect his political approach to change. In fact, he reminds me a lot of the POTUS: a Democrat who is conservative and believes that he can get support by not making waves. Yes, Charlie Crist is the archetypical "new" Democrat. And the Democratic Party will tolerate it and embrace it.
I scratch my head at these "new" Democrats. They are a far cry from Clinton, Carter and JFK. They claim liberal ideology, but are slow to act on it or even endorse it. It's almost as if they are afraid. True, the GOP has been hijacked by the tea-baggers. But have we really reached the point that if you are "anti-Tea Party", then that makes you a Democrat? I'm beginning to think so.
Make no mistake, I want Rick Scott out of Tallahassee and for him to go back under the rock he crawled out of. But it is sort of a letdown that if that happens, Charlie Crist will be his replacement. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just do not see Crist becoming a champion for progressive leadership over the State of Florida a-la Lawton Chiles. I don't see him pushing to reform the state's marijuana laws or to put a lot of weight behind the medical marijuana platform. I don't see him creating strong legislation to counter the cuts made to education in the state. And while he may support expanding Medicaid (after all, healthcare is President Obama's baby, and they are like BFFs now), I do not see him coming up with initiatives to totally revamp and enhance social service programs in Florida. Now I could be wrong about all of this. But what if I'm not?
If I'm not wrong, then we've come into a new era. The era of the soft serve Democrat. The Tea Party, while extremely isolationist and xenophobic in their views, have commanded public attention for so long, I guess that many Democrats are deathly afraid to play into their hands. They'll do anything to avoid being called a Socialist, or anti-American (whatever that means). And too often, that "anything" is nothing.
Yes, Charlie Crist definitely fits the new Democratic Party. A party which has taken the road of appeasement. The party where you can easy cross the line from being a Republican, because the gap in political practice (even if not in ideologies) is getting smaller and smaller.