By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Orlando legislator Scott Randolph’s wife was obviously frustrated with the Republican super majority’s insistence that they were the party of smaller government. You know, the party of less regulation of business, less taxes, less oversight.
Less intrusive, perhaps, unless you are an educator, gay, a union member or, most especially, a woman. Republicans in both chambers had proposed 18 bills intruding on one of the most deeply personal decisions a woman may face: abortion.
So, one night, Susannah Randolph came up with a way to express that hypocrisy. And she shared it with her husband.
Maybe, if she incorporated her uterus, legislators might stop trying to regulate it.
Pretty clever, right?
Her husband thought so, and used the line a couple of weeks ago during floor debate on a union-busting measure.
“It’s easy to practice an ideology of convenience,” Rep. Randolph said. “If my wife incorporated her uterus, you all would say hands off. If my friends incorporated their bedroom, you’d say hands off. But now we’re standing here and we’re saying we’re going to increase regulation on a specific type of membership organization. And that’s unions.”
That was too much for Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon, who admonished Randolph — via Democratic leader Ron Saunders — not to use that sort of language on the House floor. Seems the Speaker was concerned about the 12- to 14-year-old pages on the house floor.
Which truly shows how out of touch Cannon is. I hate to break it to him, but I have a 12-year-old daughter and she has heard the term “uterus” and — gasp! — even knows what it means. There’s no “eewh” about U.
And conservatives accuse liberals of being hyper-sensitive and naive?
Well, Cannon’s reaction set off a U-storm that resulted in Randolph earning a spot on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show (check it out on, uh, U-Tube and below) and the American Civil Liberties Union starting an Incorporate My Uterus website. As The Miami Herald reported, “uterus” became a rallying cry for embattled Dems. It became this session’s “Where’s the Beef” moniker.
It wasn’t long before Cannon was making a U-turn.
Last week, Cannon said he hadn’t banned the word and added, “This is silly. No. 1, I haven’t spoken to Scott Randolph in many weeks. And I think one of the reasons he is probably one of the least effective members of the Democratic caucus is he substitutes things that have provocative value or shock value rather than making policy arguments.”
Which drew this response from the sharp-tongued Randolph, which was e-mailed to media outlets last week:
Let’s be clear: Speaker Dean Cannon is THE most effective legislator. He’s so effective, in fact, that big businesses, special interest groups and out-of-state corporations have paid a disgusting amount of money to buy him and his anti-middle class agenda.
Middle class Floridians, on the other hand (am I allowed to say that body part?), are struggling to put a meal on the table for their children, struggling to stay in their homes, struggling to survive each and every day in this state and they don’t have millions of dollars to buy politicians and votes.
Led by the most effective legislator, this Republican legislature is on a mission to trample the voices of those who cannot speak with their checkbooks.
Teachers, nurses and doctors are stagings protests, prisons are being privatized to the financial gain of the politically connected, and programs for the developmentally disabled are being de-funded. State workers are being laid off at a time when Florida’s unemployment is well above the national average.
This state is in crisis.
The only word our political leadership should be talking about is the J-word — “jobs.” But instead they’re stuck on the letters T and U: tea party, taxes, unions and uteruses.
Be proud, Florida.