With the assistance of Henican (co-author, with Dwight Gooden: Doc, 2013, etc.), the former Republican governor of Florida explains why he is now a Democrat.
Echoing the words of Ronald Reagan, Crist told the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, “I didn’t leave the Republican Party. It left me.” Many Republicans thought Crist’s betrayal began about four years earlier. At a rally in support of the new president’s economic stimulus package, Crist not only appeared on the same stage as Obama, but got a hug from him to boot. For Republicans, the embrace symbolized Crist’s defiance of current party wisdom that Obama was to be opposed at all costs. For Crist, this Republican “tribalism” was “silly—and wrong,” but his memoir gives evidence that he and his lifelong party had been diverging long before then. Crist was ashamed when the Florida fiasco of 2000 ended with the U.S. Supreme Court awarding the state’s electoral votes and the whole election to George W. Bush, who happened to be brother of then-Governor Jeb Bush. As governor himself six years later, he would upset his party when he pushed to make voting easier for all Floridians, even for former felons. Still calling himself “pro-life,” in practice, he has been loath to use his political offices to come between women and their doctors. As Florida attorney general in 2005, he steered clear of the Terri Schiavo case and was aghast when the Bushes and congressional Republicans tried to use the power of the state to force the comatose woman’s husband to keep her on life support. Democrats, of course, will eat up Crist’s self-presentation as common-sense populist, as well as his unflattering portraits of the Bushes, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin and many other GOP and tea party stars.
Republicans will find little to cheer about here, but independent-minded readers might enjoy this front-row view of Florida politics at the turn of the millennium.