Senators Rubio and Scott are Threatening Democracy

Robert Crohan/PantherNow

Robert Crohan/Staff Writer

In October, the political war between Democrats and Republicans reached new heights.

With prices increasing and migration surging at the southern border, President Biden’s approval rating has taken a kick to the shin. Amidst that, Republicans are continuing their attack on voting accessibility in red states and countering Democratic claims that these actions are dangerous.

The GOP has been framing these bills as necessary for “election integrity” and preventing elections from being “nationalized.” But a closer look at the bills reveals, in my eyes, a blatant attempt to undermine the voices of Americans and, coupled with the “big lie” a mere eleven months after the 2020 election, sow doubt in the democratic process.

Too bad our Senators aren’t helping things.

Marco Rubio and Rick Scott joined Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in blocking debate on the Freedom to Vote Act. I was not surprised in the slightest.

Both Senators are boosting themselves among the GOP base by following MAGA doctrine rather closely. They campaigned with President Trump in Florida, echoing his rhetoric of GOP opponents wanting socialism in America, and Scott is now the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Scott objected to certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes for Biden. Both men, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis, are looking to take on President Biden in 2024.

In this sense, knowing that Florida is always a close state, they are trying to give their party a better chance to hold it going forward. But not only are GOP actions hypocritical, they aren’t trying to level the playing field.

The electoral college, which already advantages the GOP, is in no danger right now. Yet partisan gerrymandering is sidelining voters of color in favor of new White-majority districts that only one side can feasibly win. This is happening in many states and could be enough to give the GOP control of the House without elections.

New laws in Texas, Georgia, Florida, and elsewhere crack down on methods used by voters of color. States can even toss out results they don’t like. Confidence in the democratic process is being skewered by proponents of the big lie, even with the widespread knowledge that the 2020 election was the most secure in history, and that legitimate concerns about foreign meddling in 2016 were dismissed by Republicans. The big lie has resulted in violence and death.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats in the Trump years made attempts to work with the other side, while McConnell’s GOP is obstructing the other side at an unsustainable rate. Democrats certainly have their infighting, but Republicans aren’t making it any easier to govern.

All of this is not leveling the playing field: it is a blatant attempt to cement one-party minority rule for the foreseeable future.

In South Texas in 2020, Republicans made a fair attempt to win new voters, Rio Grande Latinos who felt neglected by Democrats and were concerned about the effects of lockdowns and migration at the border. It paid off, keeping Texas red. Why can’t Republicans in Florida and elsewhere play fair? If their ideas are in fact popular but merely misunderstood, they can trust the people to vote with good conscience after solid campaigning.

It’s no secret that to Rubio and Scott, the Trump GOP’s dirty tactics are an asset. Enthusiasm for the Donald shifted Miami-Dade into swing territory after voting for Hillary Clinton by 30 points.

Florida might be diversifying, but it is by no means turning blue. It has shifted towards the right in the DeSantis years, all with fair elections. There is no good reason to restrict the vote in a growing state where Republicans have a real possibility to show America what their leadership can achieve.

By blocking debate on a voting rights bill, Rubio and Scott are demonstrating poor regard for the democratic process, distrust in voters, and interest in obstruction. It is good to be concerned about fair voting, but claims about fraud have been debunked, leading me to conclude that our Senators are plainly lying to save face.

This is clearer when considering that Scott is one of the three most anti-Biden Senators, voting with the President a mere 17% of the time. Neither Senator supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill that both Senators from Idaho and North Dakota, much more conservative states, voted for. I respect a difference of opinion, but wonder if these votes were solely to satisfy the GOP base.

As a result of these Senate votes, Floridians may begin to buy into GOP arguments about voting bills.

The response may very well be a rebuttal that backfires dramatically. Some people foresee high turnout by Democrats to keep the GOP in check, and here in Florida, I encourage students of all political stripes to vote whenever they can, for whoever they want. Because the fate of our republic rests in your ballot, not on the lawmakers who fear it.

If Florida wants to rise as an economic and educational power in America, its Senators must ditch their partisan activities and start voting in good conscience, because history, and the voters, are watching. And they matter much more than special interests.