Florida Voters have seen this movie before, but are they ready for a change.. appears they are

By Michael Dobson:

Oh yes, finally  the “Lock Him Up” chants.

The Florida governor’s race is now unabashedly a  Clinton vs Trump redux. More proof of that? Well, what was once a  whisper, is  becoming a roar that if Andrew Gillum is elected (like it was for Hilary),  that somehow he will go to jail shortly thereafter? So, like it was for Hilary (now Gillum), the message to the undecided voters is… don’t waste your vote,he will go to jail after winning. But wait, those same loud and constant beatings of the drum  are being done with no factual basis for any of the claims. And, as we know, that doesn’t matter right? Not if you win.

To win this race (like 2016), there  also has been a proliferation of "fake news" sites and accompanying articles that germinate into a constant slew of devastating headlines  that are usually a rehash of old news with added buzz words like “ bribe”, ”crooked”, “ will raise you taxes” , a “liberal”,  “hustler”, and pledge to “bring prosecution” and etc. All ripped out of the pages of the 2016 National GOP playbook… which ultimately worked. But, given the rate at which registered  Democrats are going to the polls in unprecedented numbers, none of it appears to be working

There has been columns suggesting Mr Gillum needs to come clean and not continue to aptly avoid more direct responses regarding the New York and Costa Rico trip, which he has now followed up that urging with an open and far ranging interview with the Tallahassee Democrat. Now, because the Democrats have not been disarmed, after 2016 and the online campaign ran against Hilary using the exact same tactics, are the Democrats not prepared to fight this fight on the internet and on social media platforms? Not as aggressively as some would wish, so redux it is… or isn’t. But perhaps the voters are smarter this time.. the fool me once shame on me and….., to not be fooled this time. Moreover, the  avalanche of scurrilous headlines from newly created “news” sites alone is dizzying… along with the rapidity of which  they are shared, often by the same individuals who  are quick to  label what they disagree with  “fake  news”, to   now themselves  prolifically  disseminate what is truly  “fake”. The execution of such strategies is to be applauded. It is unrelenting, using a deep bench of acolytes who are readily disseminating such information.. and expertly using social media algorithms. But the question is, has the voter matured since 2016. Will today’s voter know the trick for what it is? Only time will tell.

Considering 2016, voters must also remember this: In the end the polls do not matter, no one is going to jail… no bribes and etc in the end, calling or labeling someone “crooked” does not make it so,  no governor has the ability to raise the state of Florida’s taxes ( three branches of government for a reason), only 3 percent of corporations in Florida pay any corporate taxes and they are the largest ( that will never change and is not what is being proposed anyway); but those facts does not stop purveyors of gross mischaracterizations, and ( if political candidates where not public figures) the peddling of what would ordinarily be called slander. But, who said politics was playing bean bag anyway?

And now we have the words “ crooked Mayor Gillum” oozing from the lips of Ron DeSantis. and chants of "lock him up" at recent GOP rallies as mentioned at the top.

So, what say you Mr and Mrs Voter? What say you? Will you recognize a strategy that has been honed to near perfection and not take the bait? Will voters seek the balance that comes  when it is not one party that rules every branch of government, knowing that such balance  allows for  real and serious discussion on issues that impact our lives…. when the  best solutions are implemented regardless of whose party’s idea it was. That’s the real fight.   Do we change how decisions are made in Tallahassee and  do we have a government where all elected officials chosen by voters get their voices heard? Or is it iron clad one party rule. Yes,  the real fight.

There remains faith in our democracy in the idea of a working  three legged stool of checks and balances in our institutions and branches.   If the momentum and energy seen at the polls reflected in early votes  are indicative of anything, the voters may be expressing that faith and clamoring for real dialogue on solving our problems. They have seen this movie before from the 2016 playbook and just may be seeking real change.. and to do something historic. Again, we will see.

Michael Dobson is a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist, founder of Dobson, Craig and Associates, publisher of Talking Florida Politics and founder of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. Reach him at Michael@dobsonandcraig.com

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