Florida Is the Strangest Political Dichotomy

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All the way back on Tuesday night when it looked like Donald Trump was going to be reelected President I couldn’t believe the state I was living in. It was a state of confusion and dismay, but it was also the state of Florida. How could we collectively rehire a leader who wrecked our economy and our health? Were we really as meatheaded as Florida Man memes portray us to be?

But what confused me even more was that Florida Amendment 2 passed raising the state’s minimum wage up to $15. Raising the minimum wage to a more livable amount goes against everything Donald Trump stands for and yet the amendment passed with over 60% of the vote. This is the third straight Florida state-wide election where a “progressive” amendment passed with over 60 % of the vote and the candidate that supported that amendment lost.

In 2018 Florida Amendment 4 passed with over 60% support restoring voting rights to felons who did their time. Yet that same year Ron De Santis won the right to be governor and Rick Scott got to be our senator, both adamantly against the amendment. In 2016 Florida Amendment 2 won 70% of the vote legalizing medical marijuana, but we elected Donald Trump to be president and Marco Rubio, who spoke out against the amendment. to be senator.

Books have been written about how people vote against their own interests, but I’d never seen it embodied in such clear terms. Three straight times Florida voted for particular laws, but then  also voted for representatives against those same laws.

Last week I was mulling over these issues on the phone with a friend. I was walking down Calle Ocho killing time as my car was being repaired and somehow the telephone conversation took us to a place where I loudly exclaimed, “Donald Trump Jr. is a joke.”

I had forgotten where I was. A man sitting on a bench quickly reminded me as he started yelling at me aggressively in heavily accented Spanish. I picked up my pace as he continued to shout at me. In hindsight I don’t think the guy knew English and didn’t understand what I said beyond the Donald Trump part, but my immediate reaction was he wanted to beat me down because I had slurred the son of his political hero.

Cubans in Miami have picked up the reputation of being blindly in love with the Republican party and I unconsciously went along with that assumption as truth. But maybe the heckler was voicing disapproval with Donald Trump Jr? Or maybe he was just a madman howling at the late afternoon moon?

It’s hard enough to make sense of an individual person. Then what use is there in finding rationality in an entire state?

As my walk continued I passed the Bay of Pigs monument. There was the bronze statue of Nestor “Tony” Izquierdo pointing his gun right at me, but things were slightly different. Perched at his feet were stuffed animals and at his pedestal was a sign that read “We love you Obama”.

I stooped to take a picture of this. Other pedestrians passed it too. No one else thought much of it. Political contradictions are so commonplace here, it didn’t even deserve a second look.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits The Jitney blog. He is the author of the novel The End of the Century.