I share this as an exercise in citizenship, and to solicit further information. I’ve done my share of reading and research, but there’s always more to the story, and if anyone out there—in the spirit of sincere debate and truth-seeking—wants to fill in my gaps, I welcome that. I do not welcome ideological foot-stomping or mouth-frothing.
I share also on the off-chance someone out there hasn’t had the opportunity to fully ponder the wide and confusing array of amendments and nominees on Tuesday’s ballot. In which case I hope my disclosure is informative and provocative in a constructive way.
In no way am I insisting this is the exclusively correct way to vote. And I will own any instances of inconsistency in my thought. Humans are infinitely capable of mental, emotional, and moral gymnastics. I do my best to pull myself out of ideology and into thoughtful reflection, but I know I’ll never perfect that skill. Doesn’t mean I’ll give up trying, though.
I’ve not ever been a card-carrying member of any particular party. I have backed candidates from multiple parties throughout my voting history. I have never believed in “perfect candidates,” especially in a two-party system. They simply don’t exist. I am consistently frustrated by the failure of the Democratic party to reject the false luxury of “ideological purity,” cutting off their noses to spite their faces. The time to hold your party and your candidate to account is during the primary. Likewise I am beyond appalled at the transparent hypocrisy of the modern-day Republican party, their complete abdication of decency, consistency, kindness, and humanity.
I also in no way subscribe to false equivalency, either in the media or in governmental practice. If 2016 has taught us nothing else, it’s that in spite of the similarities of how the two parties often conduct business and bend to big money, there are vast differences in philosophy and policy that do indeed manifest when one party controls all three branches of our government. I would like to believe that people who utterly disagree about the role of government can still have respectful and fruitful discussions about the most effective way for government to fulfill its obligations to the citizenry. Likewise, any candidate who speaks in terms of their opponents or the press being “enemies” has immediately eliminated themselves from my consideration. When politics becomes a zero-sum game, you have put power ahead of people, and have abdicated your responsibility to the long-term health of your country.
SARASOTA CITY COUNTY AMENDMENT
Change the date. Absolutely YES. Will save real tax dollars, and guaranteed to increase voter turnout for these key local elections. Supported by a dizzying array of groups from all sides of the political spectrum.
SARASOTA COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
--Legacy Trail Extension (Resolution 2018-046): Yes.
--Citizen Petition Process (Ordinance 2018-039): NO. If this were a sincere suggestion, I would be more open to considering it. But it appears to be more of a knee-jerk power grab by the City Commission, in response to the Sarasota City Charter Amendment getting on the ballot via petition, after the Commission had previously rejected it in a referendum. This makes me doubt the intention of this amendment.
—Charter Review Board Date (Ordinance 2018-039): Yes. Again, this will increase input from voters on important local issues.
—Beach Road (Ordinance 2018-036): Absolutely NO. This is a single citizen’s personal vendetta, basically, and he waged an incredibly misleading campaign. The road is already public, and it’s actually quite a positive in my mind that it is closed to vehicular traffic. It’s also short-sighted. Situations evolve, the needs of the community may change, and it’s non-sensical to include language like “never vacate in the future.”
—Preserving Property (Ordinance 2018-036): No. Misleading language. “Preserving” here is not used in the environmental sense. Like Beach Road, this simply ties the hands of the county in perpetuity, for no real beneficial gain for the community at large.
—Single Member Districts (Ordinance 2018-037): I have gone back and forth on this, but ultimately I land on NO. When representation gets broken down into overly specialized areas, special interests can take control. We see this in the US House already. I also like the idea that the commissioners must make their case to ALL of Sarasota, rather than just to a couple neighborhoods, and that voters have voting power over ALL the commissioners rather than just one. I want commissioners accountable to ALL of us. The arguments about the cost of campaigning are compelling, but I think that should be addressed in campaign reform rather than limiting voices and accountability.
Disclaimer—I am philosophically opposed to the “bundled” amendments. And I also view constitutions more as frameworks, separate from legislation. A useful metaphor: constitutions are the empty house, and legislation is the furniture, appliances, wall hangings, and landscaping. So amendments that get too specific and start to smack of legislation I am usually very hesitant to support.
1: Homestead. NO. Doesn’t benefit enough of the citizenry, will cause real financial hardship to city and county governments.
2: Property Tax Assessments. NO. Stuff like this should happen through legislation. This proposed amendment even comes from the legislature, so my suspicions on the intentions of this one are high.
3: Voter Control of Gambling. NO. And I’m quite adamant on this NO. I’m actually stunned the Democratic ballot guideline suggests Yes on this. Here’s all you need to know: Disney and the already established big casinos are pouring millions of dollars into passing this one. So what does that tell you? All the gods protect us should large corporations be empowered to rewrite the constitution in ways that squelch competition. That’s entirely counter to our American narrative, isn’t it? Even more, the language of this amendment is intentionally misleading. This is NOT voter control of gambling, because it would require STATEWIDE citizen support of ANOTHER amendment to get another casino open. This completely eliminates LOCAL control, and places HUGE financial and logistical burdens on the voters it purports to empower. Why should folks in the panhandle get to vote on whether folks in Miami or Ft Myers open a casino, or vice versa?
4: Voting Restoration. This is a big big big YES for me. I searched a lot to find any compelling reason to vote against this one. I found none. Voting is a fundamental right. Punishment should not exceed the length of one’s sentence. Frankly, any legislation that seeks to make voting MORE difficult comes under immediate suspicion for me.
5: Supermajority. This is a disappointed NO for me. I like the part of this that makes any new tax or fee required to be a stand-alone bill instead of bundled into other bills. But how ironic that this provision is bundled in with a proven non-starter in the supermajority tax vote. Once again, tying the hands of our representatives makes them LESS responsive and LESS accountable. The time to hold them accountable for their votes is when WE get to vote on THEM. Any amendment or bill that protects the power of those in power, to me, is incredibly suspect. I don’t want to give our representatives more excuses or avenues of escape from accountability, and a supermajority requirement creates both.
6: Right of crime victims/judges. NO. These bundles from the Constitution Revision Commission are mostly, to put it bluntly, dumpster fires. Some of what is in here is worthy of debate, but putting all these disparate things together is simply undemocratic and smacks of the worst sort of shell game politics.
7: Survivor Benefits and Public Colleges??? NO. A ridiculous bundle, including another short-sighted, power-hoarding supermajority requirement.
8: Struck from the ballot. For being another stupid bundle.
9: No. This goes back to my preference for legislation on interpretive issues and for not bundling disparate things together. I don’t vape and I’m not fond of it, but there’s no reason for that to be a constitutional issue. I’m also all for addressing oil and gas drilling, but the constitution needs to set Florida’s philosophical point of view, and then responsible legislation needs to be crafted, and we need to hold our representatives accountable for that.
10. No. Another mind-boggling bundle, that also limits local control and situational reactivity.
11. Yes. Shockingly, yes. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. The Constitution Revision Commission actually bundled three wildly disparate things that all make sense unto themselves, so I’m voting yes here because the exception proves the rule.
12. Yes. Not a bundle, all of these things go together, and while it’s a lot, I think overall it’s a step in the right direction towards subverting the power of lobbyists.
13. Yes. This one goes to who we are as Floridians. There’s no “trickeration” here; the language the “no” lobbyists are pretending to be worried about is already in the constitution and hasn’t yet been able to be abused or wielded as a cudgel by those scary animal lovers. I’m happy to get into a discussion about conflicting incentives here; it’s endlessly fascinating in terms of human behavior and morality. But even though this one sorta straddles the line between constitutional framework and legislative specificity, it’s beyond time for us to believe the market trends here and also to simply evolve as humans.
I have never voted a straight-party ticket. But that is changing for this election. Republicans, I don’t doubt many of you feel like your party has left you. But if your candidate has not in some way proven their integrity by denouncing or resisting the objectively immoral narcissist that now leads your party, then they no longer represent you, and this is your time to step forward and demand better. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the way to reclaim control of your party is to strip imposters or spineless sycophants of their office and then run legitimate candidates in the next cycle. If there were legitimate Republicans on my Florida ballot, I would consider them in true contrast to the Democratic nominees, weighing their policy positions. Based on my research, I am prepared, for the first time in my life, to go straight Democrat down my ballot on Tuesday.
US Senator: Nelson. Note, this is as much a vote AGAINST Scott. Especially with Rubio already as Florida’s other Senator, this one is important. To my mind, Scott has proven himself willing to harm his constituents in order to enrich himself, his special interests, and his political ambitions.
US Representative: Shapiro. Buchanan has not demonstrated philosophical integrity or representation of his full constituency. I will hold Shapiro to that same standard.
Governor: GILLUM. And this one I’m actually excited to vote for. And DeSantis, throughout this campaign and the debates, has revealed himself utterly unready and unfit for this office.
Florida House District 72: Margaret Good.
Lengthy, I know. If you made it this far, the falcon flies west at midnight. 🙂
Go vote on Tuesday! It matters. It not only changes your community and your country, it changes YOU.
Theatre pro, amateur yogi, and competent home cook.