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Jim McClellan: If Florida politicians did more fishing

Florida’s elected leaders could learn a lot from the hordes of fishermen they represent. In fact, I think a statewide political fishing tournament every couple of years might be a great way to spread some much-needed wisdom among them.

The prizes could be large contributions from the sponsors, deposited into the campaign accounts of the winners. Last place would receive a can of sardines and a consolation tweet from Anthony Weiner.

The only rules: They fish in two-person teams, using small wooden boats with two paddles and identical tackle.

Oh, yeah, one more thing – they have to pair off with an ideological opposite. The most liberal Democrat fishes with the most conservative Republican, Panhandle officials go with their Miami counterparts, pro-business folks with union members, Gov. Rick Scott with Harry Potter, etc.

This arrangement might help them understand some common-sense ideas that fishermen pick up on early in life. For example:

— There’s only one boat and we’re both in it for the same reason.

— We can go your way or my way or some other way, but if we paddle in different directions, we’ll just go in a circle.

— If the boat gets stuck on a log, we might need to rock it to get going again.  But if we turn it over, we’re just dumbasses – wet, fishless dumbasses.

— If we stay in one spot for half an hour without catching anything, it means we’re patient. If we stay for an hour, we’re hardheaded. Any longer, we’re just morons – sunburned, fishless morons.

— We’ve got a limited amount of bait so don’t waste any. But for crying out loud, we can’t catch anything if we don’t put some of it in the water.

— If a moccasin drops in the bottom of the boat, let’s agree that’s an emergency demanding our immediate attention, no matter whose end he lands on.

— If you hook a big fish, keep your hands on the rod while I handle the net and you do the same for me.

— There will be a point when the fish stop biting, we’re out of bait and we’re down to the last beer. Let’s decide now that’s the moment to pack it in and call it a day

— We can brag to folks about who got the most or the biggest fish, but let’s remember that ultimately we are judged as a team.

Now, here’s where you may be expecting some commentary about how these lessons all speak to the value of cooperation. Or how each idea correlates to one political philosophy or another. Or maybe you just want an apology for the over-extended metaphor.

If so, prepare for a letdown.

My only real point here is that the longer we keep some of these yahoos on the water with poles in their hands, the less damage they can do in Tallahassee.

Will Rogers summed it up pretty nicely: “If all politicians fished instead of spoke publicly, we would be at peace with the world.”

I think Florida would be a great place to bring his dream to life.

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