On Tal­la­has­see, jets and pol­i­tics in gen­eral

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion - DANIEL RUTH druth@tam­pabay.com

Af­ter all the hoopla of Tues­day night, Gov.elect Ron DeSan­tis is about to dis­cover he has a bit of a prob­lem. Sure, the gov­er­nor’s gig comes with a very nice man­sion, and thanks to a Florida Depart­ment of Law En­force­ment se­cu­rity de­tail, DeSan­tis won’t have to be both­ered with ir­ri­tat­ing stuff like red lights. Nice.

How­ever, if the next gov­er­nor has to travel from re­mote Tal­la­has­see, which is lo­cated some­where be­tween where Moses lost his san­dals and “you can’t get there from here,” DeSan­tis may find the trip a bit daunt­ing since one of the first things his pre­de­ces­sor Rick Scott did upon as­sum­ing of­fice eight years ago was to sell off the state’s fleet of planes, pre­fer­ring in­stead to get around on his own pri­vate jet.

Per­haps that would have made sense for say, the gov­er­nor of Rhode Is­land, but Florida is roughly 65,755 square miles. One can only imag­ine DeSan­tis fly­ing Al­le­giant Air­lines to get from Tal­la­has­see to Key West. Fun.

At any rate, DeSan­tis won the job by a gnat’s pa­tootie, or about 1 per­cent. And so the next time some­body says their vote doesn’t count, feel free to hit them with a cus­tard pie. Which brings us to my life­long fan­tasy to be king of Florida for just one day.

There are many ways I could abuse my power, like is­su­ing an edict re­quir­ing the Tampa Bay Bucs to play all their games wear­ing court jester cos­tumes. Wouldn’t that be oh so “Dilly, Dilly!”

In­stead, I think I would use my one day on the throne of Tal­la­has­see, which is re­ally an old Semi­nole term for “Can you be­lieve we just did that!?!?”, to ban all third-, fourth- and fifth-party can­di­dates from com­pletely blow­ing up elec­tions in this state.

Con­sider that Ron DeSan­tis won the gov­er­nor­ship by about 36,000 votes out of more than 8 mil­lion bal­lots cast. Fair enough.

How­ever, nearly 100,000 Florid­i­ans with gruel for brains also voted for a litany of fringe can­di­dates run­ning for gov­er­nor who had less chance of get­ting elected to the par­lia­ment of Fre­do­nia, much less the top job in state govern­ment.

Now it is cer­tainly true there is no way to know if the cit­i­zens who voted for th­ese pre-doomed van­ity can­di­dates would have turned out on Elec­tion Day for ei­ther DeSan­tis or the Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date, Tal­la­has­see Mayor Andrew Gil­lum, had their pre­ferred choice of Sad Sacks not been on the bal­lot. Or would they have even voted at all?

What we do know is 100,000 gorm­less souls sim­ply threw their bal­lot and their voice away. And that’s the thing about democ­racy, one of its per­verse charms per­haps. Peo­ple have the un­ques­tioned free­dom to be dum­ber than a sack of mold spores on Elec­tion Day.

Why do peo­ple will­fully self-dis­en­fran­chise them­selves? And yet we see this amaz­ing sight every elec­tion cy­cle, as var­i­ous lib­er­tar­i­ans, Green Party types, Watchagot grumps and all the rest of the Whit­man’s Sam­pler of po­lit­i­cal comic re­lief gad­flies pop up like weeds to run for some­thing or an­other.

They ac­com­plish noth­ing. They get elected to noth­ing. They leave be­hind noth­ing, ex­cept just enough gullible vot­ers to po­ten­tially in­flu­ence the out­come of a close elec­tion.

Many of th­ese can­di­dates ac­knowl­edge the ob­vi­ous — that they can’t pos­si­bly win. But they — ahem — per­sist, ar­gu­ing by throw­ing their dunce hat in the ring, they are mak­ing a state­ment, or are at­tempt­ing to bring to light some pet cause, or per­haps a few of the more delu­sional faux pols hope all the other can­di­dates will be ab­ducted by aliens, leav­ing them the last one stand­ing.

They should be shamed in the pub­lic square for an­noy­ing ev­ery­one. Well, I am ex­er­cis­ing my dis­cre­tion as king, af­ter all.

The prob­lem with all th­ese wannabe glad-han­ders is hardly any­body cares what they think ex­cept for those 100,000 Three Card Monte po­lit­i­cal marks who have been bam­boo­zled into vot­ing for the equiv­a­lent of the Blaz­ing Sad­dles Gov. Lepetomane. Let free­dom ring.

There are bet­ter ways to spread a so-called mes­sage that doesn’t in­volve gum­ming up the works with can­di­dates who have all the po­lit­i­cal fu­ture of Paul Manafort. Isn’t that why Twit­ter was cre­ated? So that ev­ery­body could have their own per­sonal foam­ing soap box?

As­so­ci­ated Press

Sure, co­me­dian Pat Paulsen ran for pres­i­dent over and over, but his can­di­dacy didn’t in­ter­fere with races like some of the third-, fourth- and fifth-party can­di­dates of late.

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