What I’ve Learned: Mac Stipanovich on Donald Trump, retirement, the ‘recount’ and real Florida politics

MacStipanovich
I really don’t have a vision of a post-Trump era anymore. All I know is he’s got to go.

Ed. note: Florida Politics asked John McKager “Mac” Stipanovich for a brief conversation to talk about what he has learned over decades in state and national politics. The venerable political consultant and lobbyist had recently announced his retirement from the firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

On the end of his career and retirement:

Dec. 16, 2019, was the official day I left the firm. It wasn’t planned this way, but it is 45 years to the day after I first went to work for Fowler White, which was acquired by Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney five years ago. I’ve been continuously employed but for leaves of absences for campaigns and a little bit of public service.

That is somewhat a measure of my satisfaction, but probably a greater indication of my laziness and lack of any entrepreneurial impulse. When my computer’s not working, I just liked to yell down the hall “My computer’s not working,” and somebody would bring me a new one.

When I say I have Trump Derangement Syndrome I mean it literally. I admit it freely; it is an ever-present, influential factor in my daily life. He’s literally changed my life. I thought he was a damn fool before he ever ran for President. I was a Never-Trumper from the moment he descended from on high on his golden escalator and I have not wavered since. He has confirmed my worst expectations — and then some.

This moment is unique in American history. Is it the greatest existential threat the country ever faced? No, of course not. That would be the Civil War. Is he the first demagogue the country has suffered from? Huey Long, Father [Charles] Coughlin, pick somebody. But he’s the first to be President of the United States, someone that has reached that pinnacle of power. And that’s what makes him uniquely dangerous.

And I do consider him to be an existential threat to American democracy. He attacks the very concept of truth. The idea that there’s no truth, that we have no shared epistemological framework as a people — that there are literally at least two entirely different realities where we can’t even describe what happened and understand each other when we speak even though we speak the same language — is very dangerous, very dangerous.

What Donald Trump represents, the tendencies he exhibits, the emotions he evokes, are frightening and they’re dangerous in my judgment. He’s the ultimate con man. He’s the carnival barker, and it’s just amazing how many rubes there are in the country.

Another possibility is that I’m entirely overreacting, that I’m an old man who wants to still feel relevant, that I want to wake up in the morning and feel like I have something worthwhile to do and that this too shall pass. I suppose that’s a possibility, I just don’t think so.

This derangement syndrome has cost me friends, lifetime friends. It has cost me money. And ultimately, because a business can’t have somebody offending a substantial number of their clients, it cost me a job. My law firm does not want me giving interviews and writing op-ed pieces, tearing into Trump, tearing into congressional Republicans, tearing into Republicans in Tallahassee. It’s bad for business, but I can’t not do it. So, it’s better for me to retire.

On his Florida roots:

I was born in Ocala, where my mother was originally from, because Williston didn’t have a hospital. I originally was born a Mixson, a distant cousin of Wayne Mixson and a distant cousin of Ed Moore. My great-great-great-grandfather, Jessie Willis, founded Williston around 1850.

When I was 6, maybe younger, mother divorced my biological father, who was an alcoholic troublemaker. She met my (adoptive) father in Williston. He met my brother and me at a basketball game, and we introduced him to our mother. They ended up getting married in 1957.

We moved to Gainesville in the sixth grade, so I basically grew up there in the Old South. We had three black kids in Gainesville High School my senior year, the first to go to school at GHS. I graduated on June 3, 1966, and I was in [the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at] Parris Island on June 15.

On his time in the military:

My dad had been in the Marine Corps, so it was something I was accustomed to hearing about when I was growing up. But probably it was mostly Ernest Hemingway’s fault. I had read too much Hemingway, growing up. I have heard him described now — I would have been terribly insulted then — as the best novelist for 14-year-old boys who ever lived.

I had a college scholarship of sorts at the University of Florida, but I had a theory at the time that there was one war in every man’s life and if I went to school first, I might miss mine. Little did I know that war was perpetual and would be going on for another 60 years, and I had plenty of time.

I was with 1st Recon in Vietnam beginning in April 1967 and left in December of ’68. The Tet Offensive was in January ’68, so I was there for Tet. An explosion in the middle of the night woke me up. It was a suicide bomber trying to blow up the division communications bunker, and it was game on. That night, the [North Vietnamese Army] got very close to the airfield, which was their objective — to impair air power in northern Vietnam.

The NVA had gotten through and reached a place called Cam Le, a little village with a bridge over a river — a creek really — very near the airstrip at Da Nang. The MPs had been thrown in there, which isn’t actually a combat unit, but that was all there was. The MPs stopped them, but they were chewed up pretty bad. The next morning, 1st Recon was sent in to relieve the MPs. I remember a great number of tin pots full of orange juice laced with Dexedrine. And they issued us little maps with an “X” on it. They said, “We’re going down to chase the NVA away from the airstrip. But if it doesn’t work out and they get through, make your way to the beach and the Navy will try to take you off,” but it worked out. They didn’t get on the airstrip.

On his family:

My wife, Mary, has been my partner, my fiercest defender and my most caustic critic for almost 38 years. I had been married before and, with all the campaigns and stuff, I thought it would be better for our marriage if she was involved. She ran all the whole finance operation in the ’86 campaign. She had a position of responsibility, usually administrative, on every campaign for which I worked full time.

My father married my mother when my brother and I were small, and adopted us. My father has no natural children. The three children were Mary’s by a previous marriage and I adopted them. So, there have been two generations now of second spouses, myself and my father, who have no natural children.

My grandchildren are, with the exception of my wife, the center of my life. When my girls were growing up, I was a typical 1970s father. I worked. I was often not at home. Mary more or less raised the children, and I went to recitals and graduations. Mary did a good job, they don’t seem to be any the worse for it. But with my grandchildren, I get a second chance. I get to pick ‘em up from school each day. When I pick them up, I say, “Tell me something you learned today.” Two of them apparently never learn anything.

My father will be 98 in May. His blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood sugar and cholesterol are all better than mine. Now his mind is not so good, but I don’t know that it bothers him. He’s still funny. He’ll introduce me as his second-favorite son.

On his introduction to politics:

I was originally registered as Republican and voted for Gerald Ford.

David Ward, one of the senior partners at Fowler White, was good friends with Bruce Smathers, so I had an opportunity to work on the Smathers campaign for Governor. I switched my registration to Democrat. I lived out in Killearn in Smathers’ basement, and I was his speechwriter and travel aide. On election night, I was all ready for the great victory. He came out of the gate fifth and never moved all night long. Bob Graham went on to win the race.

Then, in ’79, there was a Mayor’s race in Tampa. It’s amazing how small Florida is. The front-runner for that Mayor’s race was a County Commissioner named Bob Bondi, whose niece is Pam Bondi.

I took a look at that race, and I didn’t see much percentage in going to work for Bondi or helping him because he was the front-runner. He had all the help he needed. And so, I asked Fred Rothenberg, a partner in the firm, “Well, who’s gonna win the Mayor’s race?” He said, “Bob Bondi, probably.” I said, “Well, who’s the best candidate?” And he answered, “Bob Martinez, probably.”

I walk in off the street to meet with Bob Martinez and volunteered to work in his campaign, fully expecting to be campaign manager within an hour. And I was, of course, put to work putting out yard signs. I finally told him “I don’t mind putting out yard signs, but I might be able to contribute a little bit more than that.” I ended up writing position papers for him, doing precinct analysis to help guide the precinct walkers and that sort of thing. The editorial board at the Tampa Tribune very much liked the position papers. People didn’t do this sort of thing that much back then. I ended up traveling with him, talking to him all the time. And so, when he was elected without a runoff, I became an assistant city attorney, which was just an excuse for me to be able to travel with him officially.

I continued to think about stuff and watch stuff. And I kept asking myself, “Why is it that Florida has voted Republican in every presidential race since Truman with the sole exception of Jimmy Carter, who was a neighbor.” I just felt like a breakthrough at the state level for Republicans was just there, out of sight, in the mist. So, I did some more analysis about where the Republican primary voters were.

A relatively small percentage of Democratic primary voters lived on the West Coast and in the Tampa Bay area, specifically because the Democratic Party so heavily loaded toward the Gold Coast. But if you looked, a very large percentage of Republican primary voters were in those markets from Citrus to Charlotte. Bob Martinez at the time was probably the dominant media figure as Mayor of Tampa in those counties. I thought he had a really good chance to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

I wrote a memo to him — I wish I still had a copy of it — explaining how he could be elected Governor as a Republican, and we came up here. He was involved in the Florida League of Cities, which was an important aspect of my plot. The following year I was tapped to be executive director for Reagan/Bush Florida.

The League of Cities provided an instant statewide organization, something I’m always puzzled that no one’s attempted to replicate since.

The primary was a pretty good campaign. We came within a few points of winning without a runoff. Democrats Steve Pajcic and Jim Smith were locked in a very hard-fought runoff. We were advantaged, by an almost outright win in the primary and token resistance in the runoff while the Democrats were going at it hammer and tong.

Smith had mauled Pajcic badly during the primary on crime issues like legalizing marijuana and the death penalty. We unleashed a series of crime ads on him. He dropped nine points, in like three or four nights. And then it was all good after that. People started smelling a victory. Money started pouring in, we couldn’t spend it all at the end of the day. And we won.

On the 2000 recount:

Certainly, the recount and the media coverage that attended it and the mythologizing that followed it was unique. There were two different perspectives. From the Democrat perspective, we stole the election. From our perspective, we prevented a soft coup because they were trying to steal the election. Both interpretations of events are plausible.

What I’ve said in the past is that I believe when you counted the votes among those who voted properly that day under any means used at that time to determine how a vote was properly cast, is that George Bush won. But I believe a majority of Floridians who went to the polls that day and attempted to vote, attempted to vote for Al Gore.

The focus in the media and otherwise was on the butterfly ballots. It was your hanging chads and all that sort of thing. But look at Duval County. In Duval County, activists took a large number of voters to the polls from predominantly black precincts. They allegedly suggested they vote for Gore in the presidential election. There were something like 17 presidential candidates actually on the ballot and it spilled over onto a second page. What a lot of folks did — and I believe it was thousands — voted for Gore. The first page flipped over and they managed to vote for another presidential candidate, which invalidated their vote because it was clearly an overvote. Now you and I can be almost certain what their intent was, but there you go.

I had helped Katherine Harris in her campaign to be elected Secretary of State. I was pursuing a master’s in medieval French history at [Florida State University] in 2000. I was in a Latin class on the Thursday after Election Day when my phone vibrated, and someone said “Can you get into Katherine Harris’s office and help her? She’s understaffed for this kind of thing.” I said “Yes, I can,” so I went straight there.

Her role — and I use the phrase advisedly — was quasi-judicial. She was supposed to be an umpire. No one knew I was there. They didn’t know I was there until people started writing books after the fact. My presence as an adviser to her during all of that would not have inspired confidence that there was a nonpartisan, unbiased effort underway.

There were sound trucks and reporters everywhere. Protesters on both sides of the Capitol. I would park my car away from the Capitol and be picked up and driven into the garage underneath. Then I would walk up the interior stairs from the cabinet-level to the Secretary of State’s office.

Her office windows at the time faced out onto the plaza toward the Supreme Court. To prevent protesters and passersby from looking into that big conference room, we taped the windows up with cardboard, ordered the usual raft-load of pizzas and Cokes and sat at a long conference room table and fought it out from there. Usually, after the sunset, I would be driven out of the Capitol and back to my car so that no one would see me.

I did go to dinner with Katherine and Ben one night over at Cypress and three tables away were Bill Daley and Warren Christopher. But that was the only memory I have of going out as opposed to going home. Until it was all over, and sometime after it was all over, I had no profile.

On that “Recount” movie:

It just wasn’t fair. They picked Bruce McGill, who’s about a foot shorter than me, to play me and they picked Laura Dern, who’s about a foot taller than Katherine, to play her.

On his loyalty to the Bush family:

I have always been a Bush liege. What I did was no less than might have been expected of me. I considered it both an opportunity and a duty. And for that I did not think that deserved a statue in the town square.

I suppose the irony is I made a very small, perhaps inconsequential, contribution to his election at a critical time and then did not vote for his reelection.

I thought the invasion of Iraq was a colossal mistake. I said so before the first shot was fired. I believe the war was immoral and unjust, and I believe history has proved I was right. It’s been a disaster. It has unleashed chaos at least in the Mideast and in Europe. So, I didn’t vote for him, as much as I like him — and I like him a lot. I did not vote for his reelection because I felt he needed to be held responsible for a historic blunder.

On lobbying in Florida:

The principal change that I have noticed, aside from changes in philosophy, is money. The system is soddened with money. It is dominated by fundraising. It is so crass and so prevalent, it’s hard to believe a truck doesn’t just back up and put us all in and take us to jail. But I think that’s true at the national level, too. Fundraising is constant and unrelenting.

I think that there are still basically three ways you become an effective lobbyist. One is from the way I came, which is from the outside as a result of politics and the relations you develop in that process.

You can come in from the inside. You could be a staffer, John Andrew Smith, being perhaps a very good example of that. Eileen Stuart interned with us a couple of times. She worked on staff for the Senate Transportation Committee. She comes out, and goes to Gov. Charlie Crist’s political office, then she goes to work for Mosaic. From Mosaic, she moves to a private-sector lobbying firm.

The other way is money. All those doors that you have to pry open if you come the other two ways and are lucky, you could just take off the hinges if you have enough money.

On uber-lobbyist Brian Ballard:

I haven’t seen Brian or talked to him in probably a year. Not because I think there’s any issue between us. It’s just that he’s so busy, so important and so super cool that he’s just not around and I don’t go anymore to places where he might be found. He used to tease me by text. “There’s a dinner at the White House next Tuesday. Shall I give you an invitation?” And I’d say “Yes, please. I have something I would like to say.”

He chose a different way. Brian very much wanted, worked hard at, and earned a place on the national stage. He is an example of someone who covered both or at least two of the three ways into lobbying. He came in from the outside with the Martinez campaign and became perhaps the premier fundraiser in Florida when he went into the private sector. So he had the hard-earned advantages of both ways. He was a [Sen. John] McCain finance guru. He was a [Mitt] Romney finance guru and in the last presidential election, you’ll recall, Trump was his third candidate after Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. He had a little leg up on Trump because he represented him here in Florida. Brian will come down here and punch me in the throat when he reads this. Actually, he’s too busy, he’ll pay somebody to come down here and punch me in the throat. But Brian Ballard is a smart guy. He knows that Donald Trump is a joke. But somebody’s gotta make money while Trump is President. It might as well be Brian.

On the Republican Party:

I became a Republican in ’83 during the time of Ronald Reagan. Then, if you went into the booth and voted Republican, you had a good idea of what you were getting, even if you did not know the candidate. You were getting fiscal discipline. You were getting a strong commitment to a forward-leaning foreign policy. America as the leader of the free world. Free trade. You were getting pro-home rule bias. You were getting personal accountability and you were getting, as you will recall, a shining city on the hill, to which the entire world looked for leadership and to which immigrants, beckoned by that light, were welcomed.

There’s always been a nasty underbelly in the Republican Party since World II. Basically, a virulent strain of right-wing populism, beginning with John Birchers who thought Dwight Eisenhower was a communist to the Trump people today who think that John McCain was a traitor. They’ve been movement conservatives, they were Tea Party people. And now they’re Trump people. The Trump party now is isolationist. It is protectionist. It is nativist. It is xenophobic. And it is so far from a shining city on the hill that it’s hard to remember that’s what we used to stand for — and I can’t stand it. That progressed over time. As I said, there was always roughly 20 to 30%, maybe a little more, of the Republican primary vote that were right-wing nuts.

Go back as far as 2006 to the Charlie Crist primary with Tom Gallagher. Remember, Gallagher reinvented himself as champion of the religious right. I told Charlie that’s poison candy, stay near the center. Don’t be drawn to the right by Gallagher. Charlie didn’t, he beat him 2 to 1.

Because of increasing economic dislocations and distress resulting from the transition from industrial economies to service economies around the world, because folks were roiled by very rapid social and cultural changes in America, it was very disconcerting to a lot of Republicans and conservatives. Add to that the continued browning of America, which was exacerbated by the Obama presidency. White fright increased exponentially until it is probably the dominant feature of Trump Republican Party today. What had been a relatively stable minority in the Republican Party metastasized. And it became this majority. Trump’s genius was that he recognized the rot in the Republican Party. He didn’t transform the Republican Party, he reveled it. He could have gone the way of Ross Perot or George Wallace and had a third-party candidacy and been defeated. But his genius was to commandeer the party of Ronald Reagan. Which obviously I have not gotten over yet. And I’m unlikely to get over.

On his predictions for a post-Trump Republican Party:

I really don’t have a vision of a post-Trump era anymore. All I know is he’s got to go and then we’ll sort it out after that.

I don’t know how long it would take for the Republican Party to recover from Trump, if it ever will. Because I think Trump is as much an effect as he is a cause. There was something wrong with the Republican Party, and there is still something wrong with the Republican Party.

I find it sad, but at the same time, in a perverse way, I find it stimulating. It gives me something to focus on and do in this last chapter of my life, which is to oppose what the party I helped build has become. And I don’t have to know how it will end. And I don’t have to know if I will prevail. All I have to do is get up every morning and fight.

I remember reading some history a long time ago about a French order of the day issued at the beginning of World War I when the French offensive on the Rhine failed. The Germans were rushing toward Paris in the west, shattered French units were streaming back. And the order the day was: “Stop where you are, dig in and fight.” And that’s what I’m doing.

Guest Author


47 comments

  • Paul Brewer

    January 2, 2020 at 7:20 am

    As a flaming Liberal, I may not always agree with Mack but totally respect his words and intellect. He puts country over party. A great American.

    • Cheryl Green

      January 3, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Mack was born the same year that I was. I’m happy to see that a white Republican from Florida feels the same way that I do. I am from New Jersey and have been a Democrat all of my life. I am outraged by the presidency of DT.

    • R E Brents

      January 3, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      I disagree and am glad you are retiring

    • Harry Maynard

      January 7, 2020 at 8:36 pm

      Speaking of Existentioal, what do you think of Barr and Durham?

  • Doug

    January 2, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I also voted for Gerald Ford and the Bushes. I share your grave concern for the Republican party. I think under the leadership of McConnell, its core principle is Machiavellian: the ends justify the means, and morality and ethics have no place in the acquisition and exercise of power. And, it’s worked for them – elections won, Supreme Court and judgeships won, and so on. I too don’t know what the future of a party based on this core principle will be, but it is morally repugnant.

    • Muh

      January 3, 2020 at 7:05 pm

      The ends justified the means back in the day too. Look how he’s talking about “advising” Katherine Harris, who was also not concerned with being fair. Now that the crazies have finally fully taken over the party, old Republicans are sad they don’t have the power they did. But no problem with corruption when it was working for them. This guy is garbage.

      • Richard

        January 4, 2020 at 12:27 pm

        This guy has Balls! This took a great deal of character.

        • Muh

          January 4, 2020 at 6:59 pm

          Only took the entire Republican party to get fucked for him to do it. If he had REAL character he would have been honest 20 years ago. Fuck him.

  • Dorothy Curley Tecklenburg

    January 2, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Thank you for writing this. It gives me hope.

  • Karen Lynn Reed

    January 2, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Native Floridian from a long family of Republicans. Voted for Reagan, both Bush’s, McCain and plenty of State GOP candidates. My uncle threatened to disown me if I voted to reelect Obama. It was one of Obama’s recovery programs that saved my home after I lost my job in the recession. You can bet I voted for him. Keep in mind,this was pre-Trump. So I experienced the disease long before his election. I subsequently registered as a Dem and haven’t looked back much to the disappointment and consternation of my extremely pro Trump family. I really wish that level headed, traditional Republicans would reinvent themselves and distance themselves from the extremism and hatefulness that has emerged from the bowels of the former Republican party. I wish you the best in your fight.

    • GLENN L KLOTZ

      January 2, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      I see it in my family. Trumpf has brought out the worst in some of them and it worries me.

      • Teri

        January 4, 2020 at 4:53 pm

        Is it Trump that brought out the worst or the realization that the Left are trying to sell the country to anyone and everyone that will throw them a vote? I just don’t get that people can’t see that the corrupt politicians are going crazy that he is President.

        • Anthony

          January 4, 2020 at 6:14 pm

          Teri, this is rich. Trump’s the epitome of corruption and the only reason he hasn’t been indicted is because DOJ guidelines protect his fake, narcissistic ass. But the minute he is no longer president is when we can start counting the days to his incarceration.

  • Julie Tidwell

    January 2, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Love this article because, at nearly 65 years old, this is exactly how I feel about the Republican Party & Trump. It sickens me to see the main principles of my party flushed down the toilet for this reprobate! I’ll fight with you & hopefully there are enough of us to make a change!

    • Real Person

      January 3, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      I agree. I was a republican until it became a Russian traitor party, so corrupt it totally hated what we and McCain stood for-balanced budget, truth always, born again wasn’t a buzz word no one understood-just used as a term. The real conservatives welcome women-not hate and rape them as trump is so proud of. I want a real Conservative party-one that abhors the hatred, greed and corruption to the core as mcconnell,Trump et al stand for. A new party not rife with everything abhorrent to mankind. Real Person

  • John

    January 2, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Fiscal responsibility from a Republican? Really? Reagan falsely claimed credit for the 1980’s recovery (thanks for that are due Paul Volker), recklessly cut taxes for his wealthy friends, and ballooned the deficit. And don’t go telling me that the “Democrats in Congress” refused to make spending cuts. for six of the eight years Reagan was in office, Republicans controlled the Senate, so they could have stopped any excessive spending if they wanted to.

    Also, consider this: in the last 100 years, there have been only two times that Republicans have controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress. The first was from 1921 to 1931, and that ended in the Great Depression. The second (disregarding the blip caused by the Jeffords party switch) was from 2001 to 2007, and that ended in the Great Meltdown. See the pattern? Why are these periods separated by 70 years? Probably because the people who lived through the Great Depression, and who knew first hand the effects of Republican economic misrule, had to die first.

    As for Bob Martinez, I was living in Florida at the time. How did you like his sales tax on services? Lawton Chiles had to come out of retirement to deal with the mess Martinez created.

    • CambridgeKnitter

      January 2, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you for injecting some sanity. Too many Republicans for whom Cheetolini is a bridge too far still cannot see the truth about their party. I will remind the people still spouting the fiscal responsibility canard that Bill Clinton balanced the budget, not Mr. Humongous Deficit Reagan.

      I grew up in and around Tampa, but I escaped to New England just shy of forty years ago. We definitely have our problems, not least among them smug self-assurance in our own wonderfulness, but we’re a whole lot friendlier to people who aren’t already running the show than Florida and its ilk, and we do mostly believe in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger, even though our execution of those things might fall short of the ideal. And letting people vote. Now if Massachusetts could just learn from the Sunshine Law . . .

  • Anthony

    January 2, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    This is the most sane piece of writing I have read in a while. It actually gives me a sliver of hope. Thank you.

  • Megan Hunsdale

    January 2, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    I can see from your face that you are kind and thoughtful. No wonder you don’t fit in with the Republican Party anymore.

  • Thomas D James

    January 2, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Mac’s a has been RINO out of touch with mainstream America. He made a handsome profit over the years working for the Bush crime family but now that his best buddy JEB has become a national joke, he’s no longer on the inside.
    JEB and the RINO’s never cared about the white middle class Americans who pay the bills. They only cared about how much corporate loot they could line their pockets with and used wedge issues to maintain the white middle class vote.
    Now the tables have turned and Mac is a liberal left wing editorial writer. The best thing he could do is get out of politics, enjoy is grandkids and relax after a long distinguished career. Please don’t stay too long like so many politicos do.

    • Janie

      January 2, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      And a Lobbyist calling people “Rot” is Pat for the course. They have always felt they had an exulted position over “the people”- Most swallow any moral compass they ever had because they can live like royalty.
      Hen represents the slime that keeps the swamp in power.

    • Scott G. Buchanan

      January 3, 2020 at 7:51 am

      Thomas D. James, your ad hominem comment fails to address the substantive commentary of the author. When I read such remarks it always suggests the author lacks either the facts or the logic to make a persuasive argument himself, not that you will care what I or anyone else thinks. I found the article well written, interesting, and acute.

    • Andy Crossfield

      January 3, 2020 at 5:06 pm

      There will come a day when RINOs are all that is left of the Republican Party- if we’re not there already. When I see the Russia-coddling, the fiscal madness, the abrogation of law enforcement and the duty to party over country, I SMH. We need two responsible parties in this country, and responsible Republicans have vanished.

    • richard

      January 4, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      This guy a liberal? what the hell are you smoking?! At some point, hopefully, as in Mack’s case, intellect wins over xenophobic nonsense. FYI, I am s dyed in the wool left wing Liberal and I know one when I see one. This guy is anything but. He simply recognizes the attempted destruction of all we should hold dear as a nation and has decided, as one man, to say NO! He should be honored for his integrity.

  • jon gazzard

    January 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    at great and interesting piece on a americans life , who has kept his values, whilst the republicans turn into trumpists. give me a few minutes , and i think i will read his views again

  • Evadc

    January 2, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Complete BS from a crying flaming liberal!!!
    TRUMP 2020!!!

  • Carlina presuma

    January 2, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    Wow what a beautiful read at least there are still sane people from the Republican Party, I enjoy this please keep writing and make your voice hopefully some Republicans will hear! this is not what America supposed to look like with this con man in charge. We are better than that. Thanks and happy new year

  • Janie

    January 2, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Oh yeah a lobbyist pretending to have a moral ethical compass!! What other jokes can we expect from this one?

  • Susan Livingston

    January 2, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Since election day 2016: Stock market up 61.3% so 401K’s are up GDP for last quarter of President Obama Administration was 1.9%. Under President Trump GDP: 2017 2.8%; 2018 2.52%; 2019 ytd 2.1%. Labor participation rate 63.2% highest level since 2014. Unemployment 3.5% lowest since 1969. Black, Hispanic & Asian unemployment lowest EVER recorded. Women unemployment lowest in 71 years. Over 7 million jobs added, over 500,000 were in manufacturing. Unemployment claims 50 yr low. More jobs open than people to fill them.The latest from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture shows reduction of 6,268,285 individuals from food stamps since the first full month of 2017. Program changes & a significantly lower unemployment rate are credited for the improvement. Average household income up $5003 since Trump took office. Highest wage increases blue collar middle class! Tax cuts for middle class in 2018 paychecks. Households earning average income of $59, 206 received a tax cut of around $1,324! “The middle-income family of four earning $71,000 a year got a $2,000 tax cut, that’s about a 58 percent cut,” Grover Norquist said.  That’s every year for 8 years!! Per America for Tax Reform: Over 752 companies gave raises, bonuses, xtra benefits, hired people or reduced electric bills. Consumer confidence at all time high.

    • Jerry Snook

      January 4, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Just love the rationalization because the Obama/Trump economic expansion continues, Trump gets a pass for being xenophobic, Russian loving, democratic institution destroying, and the most divisive and corrupt figure we’ve ever seen in politics. Not to mention horrible trade policies costing small farmers dearly and endorsement of a full-on assault on truth and honesty, and so many other deleterious impacts on government and society.

    • Mario

      January 5, 2020 at 5:00 pm

      I notice you left the exploding deficit out of your numbers there, Susan. It’s all been done on borrowed money. We’re “rich” like a teenager out partying with his parents credit card. In fairness, it’s more like we are the parents out with our kids (and grandkids) credit cards running up their bills.

    • Pedro

      January 11, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Susan those are all nice things to have and possible under any President but I do not see any comments on Trumps integrity or moral fitness to represent the american people!

  • Susan Livingston

    January 2, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Business confidence all time high due to tax cuts & cutting of 1000’s of regulations that stifle business growth. We are energy independent. Unfair trade deals are being re-negotiated. USMCA is ready for passage by Congress, China is at the table & TPP rescinded. We are out of the unfair Climate Accord. NATO is paying their fair share of defense spending. In foreign policy: sanctions increased on Russia. Removing troops from Syria. Moved our embassy to Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Talking with North Korea to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. We are out of the bad Iran Nuclear deal. Passed prison reform via “First Step Act” & working on the opioid crisis. Trump is building up our military. Working on fixing the VA with “Mission Act” improving VA Choice and VA Accountability acts. Streamlined the VA Disability process, signed the “Forever GI Bill for education for veterans. 20 hostages have been returned from various countries without having to pay ransoms. President Trump signed a sweeping executive order that aims to increase federal funding & support helping “economically distressed communities” throughout the US. The new program created the White House’s Opportunity & Revitalization Council. Trump is securing our southern border. He also has a plan to fix immigration, infrastructure and healthcare if the Democrats would stop obstructing. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/trumps-list-289-accomplishments-in-just-20-months-relentless-promise-keeping TRUMP 2020!! #WALKAWAY

    • JohnJay

      January 2, 2020 at 11:11 pm

      Trump has borrowed an ADDITIONAL $400 billion per year. That’s enough to give 8 million workers a $50,000/year job. Subtract the stimulus effect of this borrowing and his 2% GDP growth is pathetic. Clinton and Obama got better GDP growth while reducing the deficit, not increasing it.

      Trumpnomics is a Ponzi scheme. When will he fulfill his promise of balanced budget? if you tell me ‘second term’, that spending cut will tank the economy if you yank $1 Trillion of spending from the pockets of everyone who currently received it. Let him announce NOW, during his candidacy, where the $1 Trillion (enough to pay 20 MILLION people a $50,000 year salary!) is going to be cut, so voters can make an informed choice. Farm subsidies? Medicare? Social Security?

    • Chella D Minor

      January 3, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      What does Walkaway mean? Our values and principles? Decimated family farms due to a failed Trade policy? Millions of Americans without healthcare?
      Families separated and children dying in Immigration custody in cages? The Tech and Wall Street top business and CEOs getting tax credits, not paying any taxes, selling our Privacy to 3rd parties? Truth is not to be understood or believed? Science is inconvenient for our citizenry well being?
      How neighborly of you to care about the total community.

    • Will

      January 8, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Susan, perhaps do some reading (something beyond the Examiner). Your comments sound like a parrot sitting in a cage next to a Fox News broadcast.

  • JohnJay

    January 2, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    Thoughtful article, and I’ve watched much (but not all) of my family follow the reasoning you’ve gone through. One small point, though. President Reagan actually created the disease that we’re suffering now. What I mean is this: prior to his Presidency, there was a general trend to recognize that one either ran on a platform of larger government and better services (but worth the higher taxes), or limited government and fewer services (but worth the lower taxes). Reagan recognize that there was no need to pit the “I want my services” voter against the “I want low taxes” voter. Since and including Reagan, EVERY Republican President has left with a higher yearly deficit than they started; every Democratic President has left with a lower yearly deficit than they started. The true test of ‘fiscal conservative’ is whether one believes that voters should get the size of government they’re willing to pay for. With this definition, I put Clinton and Obama in the fiscal conservative camp (also see their actual growth rate of federal spending lower than Republicans), and sadly, Reagan in the fiscal profligate category, much as I liked the man personally. The numbers tell a story very different than his reputation.

  • emmitt mak

    January 3, 2020 at 4:38 am

    This man asked for Donald Trump in 2000. Now he’s got him and he is not happy with what happens when you throw democracy out the window and steal an election. You see, Americans stealing elections begats Russians stealing elections.

  • Chris Rolls

    January 3, 2020 at 4:40 am

    Nice commentary and I enjoyed all the feedback as well – it gives me a sense of hope that all the people of our international mentor, that being the USA are still thinking.
    Enjoy your election year and please vote at every opportunity it’s your right and sets you apart as a democracy. I’m Australian and voting is compulsory in State and National elections here and I thank our forefathers for that.

  • PaddyMaddog

    January 3, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I also left Republicans in national elections after W took us into Iraq. We’re still suffering from that move and with Trump stepping in it today, who knows how long we’ll have troops in that region. Indefinitely. I’ve grabbed my shovel and dug my foxhole. I’m with you. I think our only hope is to drag our lost brethren out of the cult of Trump one soul at a time. When i challenge cult members they band together and call me a Libtard. Calling them rubes isn’t helping. I can do more than dig foxholes and put up yard signs too. I’d love to hear your ideas, and share mine, on how to chip away at that solid 40%. What do you think of the Lincoln Project https://www.lincolnproject.net/?

  • Pat Strait

    January 3, 2020 at 9:11 am

    I just saw you on “ Morning Joe”. All I could think of was how much my late husband, Paul Strait ,would have enjoyed seeing it as I did. We would never believed we would agree with you wholeheartedly. Paul died of Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s in November and although in some respects I am glad he was unaware of the state of our republic, I miss the great discussions we could have had on days like this. He so enjoyed having you in class and followed your career with bemusement. Congratulations on your retirement !

  • Tom Ellwanger

    January 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    I have known Mac for 48 years. It has never been boring. As a Yellow Dog Democrat since I moved to Florida in 1970, I have not always agreed with the positions he has taken. By and large, however, his brain has worked very well and, although he doesn’t want you to know this, his heart has worked better. Whenever he has gotten too “important,” his wife Mary has guided him back to earth. We boomers have done a pretty good job of screwing up the planet in many different ways. Sounds like Mac would like to reverse that. Mac, how can I help?

  • muh

    January 3, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Nice that he says this stuff now…funny how Republicans had no problem being corrupt bastards when they were running things and not crazier Trumpers. Fuck you, Mac.

  • Josh

    January 3, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    Love how this guy is admitting to his sleazy tactics so much later. The recount stuff was a joke.

  • Harold Finch

    January 3, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Based on the previous comments, Mac you have touched a nerve in many. But just like with Ballard, it’s all about the money; power and sex. Not always in that order!!

  • David Flagg

    January 7, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    Mac is also Honorary Blue Key at UF. Working with him was always interesting and useful. At times his intellectual curiosity is scary.
    David Flagg, Gainesville.

  • Pedro

    January 11, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Trump is just an ego-maniac con-man, take away his platform and victim and he goes away.

Comments are closed.


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