Scott Hardie | November 8, 2022
I have already railed against some of my electoral logical-fallacy pet peeves, including that "not voting is the same as voting for the opposition" and that "undecided voters are idiots." To this list, let me add, "no matter who you vote for, just get out there and vote today," or more insidiously said, "it's your civic duty to vote no matter who it's for." No. Just as voting is a right, not voting is also a right. Requiring someone to vote if they disdain every candidate and cannot ethically choose any of them is like compelling an atheist to belong to a religious faith but letting her choose which one.

I'm also tired of the bellyaching of people who are outnumbered, like Oregonians who want to redraw the state line with Idaho so that they can live in a red state without moving. Oh, you're sick of being outnumbered by blue Oregonians in the cities? Well, that's what democracy feels like: You have to co-exist with people who disagree with you and they get their way if there's more of them. Why is that hard to accept? I vote blue, but I live in a very red state and red county, so the ballot that I dropped in the mail weeks ago will not count for much except my conscience, and I live with that. Besides, Idaho might flip blue as more liberals move there, so don't count on that border change to solve your problem.

What are your thoughts and hopes going into this Election Day?

Steve West | November 8, 2022
I have every expectation that there will be a Republican victory in the House and perhaps in the Senate as well. I can only hope for a continuation of the American tendency to vote for the party not in power during any election cycle, looking for change. So, when Republican actions are disgustingly on display, voter apathy will disappear and sweep the other party into power the next cycle (Democrats in 2024). Will this cause the Republican Party to view their "leadership" with a more critical eye and see candidates like Trump, Walker, Oz, Lake, etc. with the disdain they deserve? Doubtful. I can only hope that democracy survives.

Samir Mehta | November 8, 2022
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Samir Mehta | November 8, 2022
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Scott Hardie | November 9, 2022
Steve and Samir, I share the same hopes as you, and I wish I could say that I didn't share the same doubts too. :-(

It too bothers me to no end when people complain about foreign aid "when we have so many problems here at home!" and then oppose taking the actions or spending the money necessary to address those domestic problems.

I think voters are inclined to see 2022's economy as a crisis partly because of media distortion advancing a highly exaggerated narrative of scarcity and inflation, but also because this moment feels something like a final straw after decades of wage stagnation, union-busting, and mounting desperation. It's the same pissed-off energy that sent Trump to office; people are fed up with getting nowhere in our society despite all of their hard work and sacrifice, and the fact that the crunch is still getting worse instead of better is just unacceptable. I don't blame anyone for feeling this way.

Florida may poll purple but it votes blood red. I've lived here more than two decades now, and it's been true in every election that Republicans have out-performed polls by 5-10%. There was zero chance of any Democrat beating the wildly popular Ron DeSantis this year, but the Democrats further shot themselves in the foot by nominating Charlie Crist, a low-energy milquetoast former Republican governor who switched parties and has no shred of credibility with any Floridians. He would struggle to be elected president of a bridge club.

Some of the many reasons why Florida is so red:

• We have tons of retirees here. Besides their age making them demographically likelier to vote red, many of them left behind liberal enclaves like New York City to settle here. The ones who vote blue tended to stay behind.

• Florida has no state income tax. Guess what kind of voter that attracts.

• Although Florida does indeed have many large cities and the population is rapidly becoming urban, the Floridians who are rural are very rural, priding themselves on being here for generations and surviving a once-rugged wilderness, and they vote with that energy. I live on the edge of a metro area, so I can drive one direction into the city or the other direction into the country, and the only difference between them is the size of the Trump signs, some of which get truly enormous. (Speaking of enormous, consider this asshole's flag that I've had to drive past for years.)

• All kinds of shenanigans keep minority voters away. One of the most shameless has been the legislature blocking re-enfranchisement of felons. Short version: In 2018, voters overwhelmingly approved letting felons who served their time vote again. The hard-right legislature* made it a felony to vote if you still owed any government office any money at all such as unresolved court fees (you have to pay to be prosecuted here!), but there's no way to find out that information for the average citizen, who lacks the resources of a prosecutor's office to track down that data. People have been arrested left and right who had no clue that they owed anything.

• Florida has long had a reputation for free living, with a wink-nudge attitude about lawlessness that extends informally into tourism promotion. Consider drunken bacchanalia on spring breaks and biker crowds convening annually in Daytona, for instance. This attracts people who resent feelings of government overreach elsewhere, especially during the pandemic, when DeSantis's anything-goes approach to COVID safety brought in flocks of people who opposed mask mandates and vaccine mandates and so on.

• Florida's Latin American population is dominated by Cuban ex-patriots, who so despise the Communism enforced by the Castro dynasty that they reject anyone who doesn't take a very hard stance against socialism in any form.

*Speaking of the hard-right legislature, I am relieved to see their most recent power grab fail. Essentially, there are three ways to propose amendments to the state constitution, all of which must pass a 60% vote by the public: The legislature writes whatever they want, the people collect enough signatures on petitions, and a commission of Florida's legal & political VIPs meets every 20 years to recommend more. The legislature has been trying to get rid of this commission by arguing that it's not needed since the people of Florida can still pass amendments themselves -- but they've simultaneously been stripping away the people's ability to do that by making it harder to collect enough signatures. I don't like VIPs having that kind of authority either, but I know a bullshit argument when I see one, and I resent the insult to our collective intelligence as voters.

Samir Mehta | November 9, 2022
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Scott Hardie | September 18, 2023
Samir, I thought of your question today when I saw this video about how Florida turned so red. I feel like their points map fairly well to mine, although I chalked up the 2022 landslide to Charlie Crist being a terrible candidate and not to the Democratic Party abandoning all spending in the state. (It's a chicken-or-egg thing. Did they abandon spending because Crist was terrible?)

Samir Mehta | September 21, 2023
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Samir Mehta | September 21, 2023
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Scott Hardie | September 23, 2023
Yeah. We're still here, but their share is growing, and they've always been more organized and better funded and more successful in elections anyway. Walkin' Lawton was the last popular Democrat within the state, and he's been dead for 25 years.

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