There's a lot to love about America. Freedom of religion. Freedom of assembly. Freedom to dress casually on Friday.
But perhaps the most cherished American freedom of all is the freedom to call the governor of your state an asshole to their face whenever you damn well feel like it.
That's exactly what Florida resident Cara Jennings did when she came face-to-face with Gov. Rick Scott in a Starbucks yesterday.
But ... why would anyone want to yell at Rick Scott?
He looks nice.
I mean, just look at those teeth. Such clean teeth!
Jennings had three reasons, it turns out. And they're pretty big ones.
1. "You cut Medicaid, so I couldn't get Obamacare," Jennings accused.
Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone has to buy health coverage or face a tax penalty. But what if you can't afford insurance? According to the law, anyone who makes up to 138% of the poverty line is eligible for Medicaid, and anyone who makes between 138% to 400% of the poverty line can have their coverage subsidized if they buy a plan from their state or federal exchange.
In theory, anyway.
The catch is, the ACA is a federal law, and Medicaid is a state program. The federal government can't force the states to expand it to include higher-earning people if they don't want to. So the federal government gave the states a huge carrot to get them to do so: offering to pay for the expansion in full until 2020, and 90% after that. Basically a total win-win.
But Florida, under Scott, refused (after saying he'd take the money in 2013). Which, essentially, means that anyone in Florida who makes more than poverty wages but less then a living wage is pretty much out of luck.
Jennings isn't exactly correct to say Scott cut Medicaid. But it is true that his government rejected a pretty no-brainer expansion of Medicaid that wouldn't have cost the state a dime for seven years. And in doing so, he put affordable health care out of reach for many, many Floridians.
2. "A million jobs? Great! Who here has a great job?"
As Jennings shouted in his general direction, Scott boasted that Florida has added 1 million jobs in his tenure. He's (close enough to) right!
Jennings replied that these jobs mostly kind of suck. And she's also kind of right.
Scott has faced criticism that many of the jobs his state has added since he took charge don't really pay all that well — and there's some evidence to support this claim. A 2014 United Way report found that over half of all jobs in the state paid less than $15 an hour, and sectors that offer low-paying jobs have been among the fastest-growing.
There's some evidence that this has begun to change recently, but it's hard to blame Jennings for feeling frustrated.
3. "You stripped [women] of access to public health care."
According to WFTS-TV in Gainsville, Jennings had been "reading about Scott signing a bill that cuts money for Planned Parenthood and seized the opportunity to speak her mind."
And it's true! Scott signed a bill in March stripping state funding from clinics that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services. It also provides plenty of other services, including cancer screenings, contraception, and STD/STI testing. Cutting funding puts those services in jeopardy.
As the gutsiness of Jennings' epic rant makes clear, when it comes to holding politicians to account, politeness can be kinda overrated.
Most of us, at some point in our lives, learn that shouting at a stranger in a coffee shop is rude. But these are big issues that affect real people! And when, if ever, else was Jennings going to have an unscripted conversation with the governor responsible?
Like most politicians, Rick Scott undoubtedly spends a lot of time surrounded by lots of people who agree with him. If not for a lady in a Starbucks yelling at him, when's he gonna hear about it?
So if you feel the need, by all means, yell at your governor.
It's the American way.
Fine print: Welcometoterranova does not expressly endorse yelling at your governor. There are many, many situations where this might not be appropriate or advisable. Though, if you want to yell at your governor, you have the constitutional right to. Welcometoterranova does endorse the Constitution of the United States.