When it comes to global politics, a number of Florida politicians have shown they may be better focused on local issues. As crucial as international issues can be, changing positions based solely on partisan positions effectively neutralizes one’s credibility on the matter.
Not many would immediately link Tehran and South Florida, but it turns out Donald Trump has managed to span that divide -- even as he is cursed for purportedly burning a bridge. When the president announced he was going to bring an end to the long-divisive Iran deal, forged by Barack Obama, it set a course for the Florida Senate race. By extension, a number of regional Democrats have chosen sides, and they have done so by way of flipping their views.
The Rick Scott vs. Bill Nelson Senate contest this year will be one of the most closely watched races in midterms. The two candidates have already entrenched themselves in party lanes. Scott is measuring much of his campaign in relation to Donald Trump, while Nelson has positioned himself as a stalwart opponent of the president, appealing to his base.
The Iran decision has instantly become a campaign issue. Bill Nelson released a video in opposition to the decision within minutes of the announcement. Scott and the Republican Senatorial Committee greeted this as good news, announcing Nelson’s stance against the president. These partisan postures have stretched to now include incumbents.
In 2015, when the agreement with Iran was reached, three prominent Democratic House members from Florida opposed the deal. Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, and Lois Frankel all voted in the House resolution against the deal. (The Senate mostly opposed it as well, but lacked the full 60 percent needed to pass the resolution.) Today, however, now that it's Donald Trump ending the non-binding agreement, all three hold a different position.
Each of the House members has come forward to voice his or her displeasure at the president’s decision to end the agreement.
THEN: Opposed giving terrorists billions, and allowing centrifuges and ballistic missiles.
NOW: “I regret (Trump’s) decision to weaken American leadership around the globe.”
THEN: “JCPOA allows Iran to remain a nuclear threshold state while simultaneously reaping the benefits of relief from international sanctions.”
NOW: “Unilaterally withdrawing from the deal may put our credibility on the international stage in jeopardy at the worst possible time.”
THEN: “It legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program after 15 years and gives Iran access to billions of dollars without a commitment to cease its terrorist activity.”
NOW: "Mr. President, you are wrong to think that if we withdraw from the nuclear accord, we can negotiate a ‘better agreement.’”
Wouldn't you agree, it's fair to assume that today these positions are strictly made based on who's promoting the withdrawal?
All of their original objections would become satisfied by ending the agreement. Note how all three of the legislators this week give completely different reasons for opposing the termination of the deal. Their prior grievances would all become satisfied, but now they each cite that saving face is more important than preventing an avowed enemy from becoming nuclear.
The ultimate irony is that, if they are doing so in order to show support for Bill Nelson, they have also become disqualified as rational voices. By changing their position, for altogether superficial reasons, each one has become a neutered voice on the subject, and their opinion on the matter holds virtually no value.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this commentary exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.