I distinctly recall voting in the 2004 March primary here in Seminole County. My wife and I were the only ones in the voting station. It’s not that people here didn’t care, it was the attitude of "What’s the point?" Even messages from the people at the DNC pleaded me not to stay home and to vote for John Kerry to show "strong support", (which we did).
But let’s face it. By March, the race for the nomination is all but over. I never got a chance to vote for my man Wes Clark—he dropped out. So did every other major contender at that point. My voice wasn’t heard because I did not have the fortune to be a resident of small white-bread state like New Hampshire or Iowa.
I have nothing against those fine states, but darn it, if you had to pick a representative state for our nation, neither of those two hold a candle (or a piece of granite or a cornstalk) to Florida. We are the fourth largest, but unlike the top 3, we aren’t solid blue (CA, NY) or solid red (TX). We are a battleground state that is proudly purple. Our large conglomeration of minority cultures (Hispanic, Haitian, African, Indian, Asian, etc), geriatric population, and diverse religions are much more aligned with the diversity and strength of this great nation. Even better, it is matched by the diverse representation in our state legislature. Add the population diversity with the diversity of our economies and industries, and I would say that Florida would be a better choice than either Iowa or New Hampshire. (Heck, most people have even visited our state at least once in their lifetime).
But before I get angry comments from the good people of Iowa or New Hampshire, let me say that the proposal I’m supporting does not call for us to move ahead of either Iowa or New Hampshire. I understand that that would signal Armageddon. NO, the benign proposal would move the primary to either a week after New Hampshire's contest, which is currently slated for Jan. 22, or to Feb. 5, whichever comes first. This is more than fair. And that’s what this issue is about: fairness.
This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an issue of giving us a voice. Far be it from me to ever stand with the GOP, but that’s where I am going to be on this one-- along with the Democrats. At least with GOPs like Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, who is sponsoring the FL House bill, and House elections chairman, Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, who is supporting the proposal.
However, the Senate elections chairman, our own Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, seems to be expressing doubt. He stated that we need to be "very cautious and careful" about the dates—whatever the hell that means. (Are you hitting the booze again already?)
What exactly do we need to be "careful" about, Lee? That the RNC and DNC may retaliate by taking away many of our state party's delegates to the nominating convention, as some of the power elite have threatened to do?
Here would be my response: Boo-freakin’ Hoo!
When was the last time the outcome of a party convention was NOT preordained? Refresh my history, wasn’t it around the invention of television?? The conventions are nowadays nothing but a party that we watch on our talking boxes and platform for the preordained nominee. So I ask my fellow Floridians:
Would you rather lose a couple of party-goers to attend a hoe-down, or would you rather have a real voice in choosing the president?
Yes, its nice to be a battleground state, but we are forced to choose between two people we never selected. I would much rather have a voice and choice upfront rather than after the fact. If that had happened in 2000, maybe some of the smart GOPs here could have derailed W’s train and saved our country from a lot of unnecessary grief. If not, maybe in 2004 we could have helped choose a more adaptive candidate than Kerry, (like my man Wes), and stopped the madness from that angle.
Write your state legislators and the governor and let him know where you stand. Otherwise, 2008 will prove to be just another exercise in showing "strong support".