Ahead in Florida
April 20, 2002
The unsinkable ship, better known as the Florida Democratic
Party, has set a course that could lead to a scramble for
the life boats if party leaders continue to ignore the impending
iceberg warnings. The warnings have come in the latest polls
showing that Janet Reno will win the Democratic nomination
by a comfortable margin over the party-anointed Bill McBride.
Still, the party does not take these warnings seriously and
continues full steam ahead to the upcoming collision of a
Reno victory. Rather than change course by returning to a
neutral position in the primary or backing the likely winner,
they continue an increase in speed by rallying even more behind
McBride. This they hope will get them to port and the Governor's
mansion safe and sound. Unfortunately, their plan will send
the ship slowly beneath the waves and another four years of
a corrupt and punishing Bush Administration.
The Florida Democratic Party is demonstrating rather effectively
that they are out of touch with their constituents. Many active
within the party are failing to understand that the Democratic
voter is more New Democrat than traditional Democrat, as demonstrated
by the failure of McBride to improve in the latest polls.
Meanwhile, Reno is maintaining her numbers campaigning as
a populist and outsider. With New Democrat credentials, she
continues to out maneuver not only McBride's handlers but
also the bulk of the Democratic Party leadership as well.
At the state Democratic convention, one attendee remarked
that Reno had no organization to speak of to a reporter, yet
for all of McBride's organization, he still hasn't
caught the attention of voting Democrats the way Reno has.
The large amount of cash raised might not be enough for McBride
to win without going negative against Reno. In that case,
he will be providing a free service to Governor Jeb Bush whose
coffers are bursting at the rim. Such negative attacks will
allow for issues to be legitimately exploited by Republicans
who will claim that they are only using issues raised during
Third party attacks on Reno help McBride but have not been
effective in the upcoming primary, which is most likely why
Jeb Bush threw a fit when he learned about them. His strategy
would have been to employ those tactics after Reno won the
nomination to boost his margin of victory. The third party
attacks also might ignite McBride's stagnating campaign and
win the nomination -- a scenario that Bush does not favor.
Another problem with such attacks is that if they fail, Bush
will have a real campaign battle on his hands in which he
will have to defend his disgraceful record. Reno, who seems
immune to such negative attacks so far, is underestimated
by Bush and thought to be the easier opponent. Such underestimation
of Reno's populist appeal by both the party and opposition
is why Reno is in a better position to win than McBride.
Why is the party leadership failing to recognize their destruction
at the hands of a Reno victory? Like the Captain of the unsinkable
ship, arrogance and one bad decision followed by another bad
decision. The belief in their abilities to sway the Democratic
voters seems to permeate every decision made. They sense that
there is a large undecided block of voters in the panhandle
and northeast part of the state will hand victory to the unknown
McBride rather than the known candidate Reno. It is practiced
experience that tells them this at the time, but in the near
future it will be seen as folly whether or not Bush wins reelection.
If Reno wins the nomination, she will become the leader of
the state Democratic Party up to the election. If Reno wins,
whoever is leader of the Democrats will be the Captain of
a sunken ship and not in a position to organize the Party
for the election. Reno will have her own crew and if she wins,
she can force a reorganization of the Florida Democratic Party.
Therefore the Florida Democratic Party will be reluctant to
assist in their demise by helping Reno win the race against
Bush. They may think it is better to remain in control of
the party than to win the Governor's race.
So after the collision with iceberg and the unsinkable ship
begins to take on water, rest assured that unlike the real
Titanic, the officers and captain will have lowered their
own lifeboat long before the unsinkable sinks. They will most
likely be planning the course for the next ship they will
command while the rest of the crew and band play and sing
as they go beneath the waves.
The author is a lifelong Floridian and Democratic Party member
who resides in the unfashionable Northeastern part of the