As a Democrat, Should I Flee Florida?

I’ve seen several posts on various social media channels suggesting that Democrats in Florida should flee the state because of its current regime and atmosphere of intolerance. I’m a Democrat who lives in Florida, and running away is the last thing on my mind. True, the state is under attack by intolerant forces led by Governor Ron DeSantis and the majority of both houses who support his every whim. But run? Nope.

There are tens of millions of reasonable people from all parties here in Florida — Democrats, Independents, and yes even Republicans — who don’t like the situation here and its trajectory. Every day more of them are getting involved: Attending rallies and school board meetings, joining online groups, and signing up for their county party committees. They’re getting involved and saying no: Florida will not become a mini Gilead!

Governor DeSantis says that Florida is where woke comes to die. Nah. If by “woke” he means a realization that we are all imperfect as were our ancestors and that by teaching actual, factual history to our children, we all benefit, then woke is alive and well. Sure, you can try to gag teachers from teaching a certain curriculum and you might try to ban books from our schools, but you can’t quash the truth, Governor. It’s bigger than all of us and, by the way, we live in the information age and the people you’re trying to ban information from are digital natives. They know a dozen more ways than you or I do to get information, including books.

For a big chunk of my life, I was a Republican. And many of my friends from my youth still are. But I know they are not unreasonable people. True they, like I, are caught up in promoting “the side they’re on” (human nature in my opinion), but they still can reason. I go back to what Stephen Covey taught us: When two sides are at a seemingly unbreakable impasse, go for win-win. To do that he further instructed, seek first to understand, then be understood.

What do Republicans in Florida want? To protect their children I have heard them say. That seems like a very reasonable goal, and Democrats agree. We want to protect our children too. Then it comes down to the hard details: Protect them from what? They say from being corrupted by our woke agenda — essentially exposing them to things like slavery, a variety of cultures, and differences in things like sexual preference. We say we’re protecting them from an unreasonable level of censorship based on a religion we might not all share or a prejudice that is in principle, wrong. The answer certainly isn’t to try to teach something that isn’t true, something that Governor DeSantis has approved recently, which suggests that, for example, there were practical benefits to slaves from being, uh, slaves. But at least we both can agree that protecting our children is a worthy objective.

So that’s the crux of at least this category of our differences, isn’t it? The degree to which we can and should expose our children to the objective truth. If we’re going to live together, we have to work some things out, and as much as I want it my way 100%, I know that won’t happen. But that doesn’t mean I concede them their view 100% either. As adults here in the Sunshine State, we need to talk–not yell–talk to each other and find out what each side can live with, go for win-win. It’s the only way.

So run? I don’t think so. But it will take courage. And remember courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear. It means standing tall in the face of fear. The good people of Florida, and again there are tens of millions of us, know that the time to take a stand has arrived. But we have to fight smart. We can’t lose our cool and ever resort to violence. No. We have to stand on principle. In the end, reason based on sound principles will win. But we have to be consistent in our points and messaging.


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