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Has it been only a year?

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Joe Henderson: Florida can’t let #MeToo become yesterday’s news

Can it really be a year ago that Harvey Weinstein was exposed as a scumbag and #MeToo became the hashtag to live by? Titans toppled, old scores settled, secrets exposed.

While here in Florida … um, what? Political careers ruined (see Latvala, Jack).

SB 1628 from Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, tried to create the “Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct.” It cleared the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and then died in the machinery of delay in the Legislature.

“For far too long,” Book said at the time, “bad actions have been able to hide in the shadows of this process.”

She spoke of the “good ol’ boys club” where women knew to go along to get along and keep quiet — or else.

That’s only part of it. And the Parkland high school massacre moved from #MeToo to mourning the dead in the horrific slaughter of innocents.

So, here we are — a year later, with #metoo fading in the public consciousness even after the seemingly nonstop barrage of news from all angles. Bill Cosby is in prison. Al Franken is now a “former” U.S. Senator.

Powerful CBS Entertainment CEO Les Moonves was forced out following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Actor Kevin Spacey is disgraced. And now, we have come full circle, with the controversy surrounding allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ripping open the wounds anew.

Democratic Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. Republican State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto joined with Book in a statement that said such misconduct, “whether in action or in spoken word, has no place in our world and certainly not in our places of work nor in the halls of power.”

Adding all that to the backdrop of President Donald Trump and the long-standing allegations of sexual messiness against him, and we were supposed to witness a movement that changed the world.

But has anything really changed in Florida?

It doesn’t seem so.

There have been many public demonstrations of outrage by women, and more women are stepping into the political arena.

But, Democrat Gwen Graham lost her bid to become Florida’s first female Governor when she was defeated in the primary to Andrew Gillum despite leading in the polls into Election Day, suggesting that voters were more motivated to support Gillum’s progressive agenda.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle publicly denounce any form of sexual harassment, but President Trump has argued that you can’t trust female accusers because they might be lying. Thursday’s FBI report on the Kavanaugh SCOTUS investigation was denounced as too quick, too shallow, too political to be taken too seriously.

Yet, it is likely to put a man on the Supreme Court despite the impassioned appeal by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and others that Kavanaugh sexually harassed them. And Trump mocked Ford at a political rally this week to the cheers of the Republican crowd.

In a few weeks, Florida will choose a new Governor; it’s a coin-toss whether it will be Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis. No matter which man wins, there will be chatter about the direction the new Governor will take the state on vital issues of the environment, education, health care, taxes, and so on.

What about #MeToo?

Let’s just hope it doesn’t become yesterday’s news in the wake of tomorrow’s headlines.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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