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Iceberg Ahead in Florida
April 20, 2002
By Interfan

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 the primary.

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 state.

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