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News

Gov. Rick Scott vs. Gov. Chris Christie

Recent revelations prove that Christie isn’t such a nice guy, but neither is Scott

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As someone who has very recently hopped a barbed-wire fence in a suit and black tie, I can attest that getting a photo of New Jersey governor Chris Christie with Florida Gov. Rick Scott is really difficult. On Saturday morning, the Republican Governors Association hosted the two for a fundraiser at the Country Club of Orlando, while members of the press were invited to wait curbside on OBT.

Unlike Scott, Christie – who is in the news right now for his attempt to cruelly punish an entire city over a political grudge – has a reputation as a power-crazed bully.

Stories about him will keep making national news because of his standing in the Republican presidential field. But most people are talking about him right now because we rarely get such a titillating and disturbing glimpse into how elected officials and their staffers really talk about their own constituents. We want to know what they say about us behind our backs.

The mocking texts sent by Christie’s deputy chief of staff during the bridge-lane closures in New Jersey reveal the way his team views the people who are supposedly their customers. Political staffers form especially tight and contentious cliques. They always know the latest gossip. Definitive proof may never emerge as to whether Christie directly used the world’s busiest commuter bridge as a political weapon, but it’s inconceivable that he didn’t at least tacitly approve of it the whole time.

Both Christie and Scott demonstrate how dangerous it is when leaders prioritize money over human need – but of the two, Scott is the more sinister politician.

In Florida, we could only hope for a governor who carried out political grudges through bridge-lane closures. Scott avoids public conflict, engaging instead in the silent trade of human lives for corporate profits.

In 2012, Scott vetoed the funding of 30 rape crisis centers, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. He sped up Florida’s execution process, but then chillingly delayed one prisoner’s execution date so it wouldn’t conflict with a political fundraiser. And of course he refuses to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid, even as 4 million Floridians lack health insurance. Why does it seem like so many public officials act in ways that are so contrary to the public good?

To understand why politicians do what they do, we first have to start viewing political campaigns as what they really are: businesses. Political campaigning is a large and complex industry, with its own technologies, trade magazines and master’s degrees. A political candidate is essentially a specialized contractor who wears three hats. They’re media personalities, they are fundraisers and they are customer-support representatives.

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