Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently tweeted that he was switching parties, from Republican to Democrat, following in the footsteps of many "true" politicians as he attempt to restore himself to the spotlight and in a potential vie for his old job.
Rewind almost three years. After conceding the Florida Republican Senate nomination to Marco Rubio in 2010, and subsequently the Senate seat, Crist became irrelevant. Even Wikipedia stopped keeping tabs on him after his 2010 defeat. For a former governor, and a man who at one point was esteemed to walk away with a Senate election, irrelevance is not acceptable.
Then comes the switch. The mantra motivating this stratagem directly correlates with Washington's main problem: most politicians are more concerned with personal success than the welfare of our country.
In this move, Crist follows in the steps one of another trendsetter, Arlen Specter. Specter first switched from a Democrat to a Republican in 1965, since the former party did not give him a bid and in politics, winning is all that matters. Following that, he famously switched back to the Democratic Party in 2009 “largely to avoid a primary defeat from conservative challenger Patrick Toomey.” Unfortunately, the tactic proved futile, only delaying his loss until the general election.
Crist attributes his switch to the GOP being “too strident and difficult.” I tend to face that claim with tremendous skepticism. As one journalist writes, "Mr. Crist has made it clear that his party change is the next step toward rejuvenating a career in politics."
This is yet another ploy of a politician who is trying to hold on to the spotlight for as long as possible. Even diametric sources, the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC, agree on Crist's likely intentions: an attempt to regain his old job as governor of Florida.
Why politicians think these tactics work, and even more so when it works, perplexes me. Not only does it show a lack of loyalty, but it also has been found that, in most cases, “party switchers have short lifespans.” Granted, the story was a few years back, but still recent enough to be relevant. Only time will tell if this strategy will prevail, but at least the attempt is not in complete vain. Crist certainly has experienced a huge bump in attention and relevance once again, even if only momentarily.
Crist’s switch could certainly be genuine, having experienced a true change of heart or dissatisfaction with his former party ... who knows? But if this was the case, I have one last challenge to propound: If Crist won the Senate election in 2010 do you really think this would be happening? I doubt it …
In no way do I particularly feel animus towards Crist, or wish upon him misfortune, but I do hope his efforts prove unfruitful set a precedent for our leaders. If politicians keep being rewarded for Machiavellian tactics, whats to dissuade them from doing so?