U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is planning to make multiple farewell speeches on the floor of the Senate to highlight the issues he hopes the nation will solve after he leaves office.
Nelson took to the Senate floor on Monday to deliver the first of these speeches. In that address, he took a shot at the man who defeated him, Gov. Rick Scott, echoing a theme from the campaign trail saying “a public office is a public trust,” a clear jab at the Republican governor that the Democrat used multiple times on the campaign trail.
In the coming days, Nelson plans more such speeches. While he mentioned the need for both parties to work together to solve problems, Nelson described that “public trust” in terms of policies Democrats have pushed.
”There are a lot of other things that fall under that category of public trust,” Nelson said. “You must fight to protect the fundamental right to health care and against any attempt to roll back our progress on things like preexisting conditions. Most everybody has a preexisting condition. If it’s not required that an insurance company cover you, then either your rate is prohibitively high or else you don’t get coverage at all. And out of 20 million people in the state of Florida, 8 million people have a preexisting condition.
“And you must continue the fight to preserve the natural wonders of our state, from the Everglades to the pine forest, to the beaches and the offshore waters. Say no to drilling off our coast, not one rig off of our coastline not only for the sake of our environment, the sake of our tourism economy and for the sake of the largest military testing and training area for the United States military in the world right off of our coast,” Nelson added.
Nelson has been a fierce advocate for NASA during his tenure in the House and the Senate and continued to use the bully pulpit to lobby on that agency’s behalf, saying that we need to continue to “launch rockets and to explore the heavens.” He mentioned his travel into space but did not mention President Donald Trump’s plans to build a space force that would potentially be its own branch of the military.
One of the more interesting quotes from Nelson came on the subject of rights.
“I will continue to fight on and on for the inalienable human rights that are the soul and glory of the American experiment,” he said. “Civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights and the sacred right to vote. We must end all forms of voter suppression, make it easier for Americans to vote and honor the ideal that we are governed by the majority and not by minority rule.”
Nelson is calling for the rights that make up the American experiment but he is ignoring an important part of the intent of the founders. It was James Madison that warned the nation about the dangers of the “tyranny of the majority” and it was a key subject in Alexis de Tocqueville’s book “Democracy In America” that is regarded as one of the foremost explanations on exactly why America works as well as it does. Nelson made no mention in his speech of the recounts or the close nature of the race, merely saying “it was not the result Grace and I expected.”
In the meantime, look for Nelson to continue the farewell tour in the following weeks.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.