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Supporters of President Donald Trump wait outside in a town square in The Villages, Fla., before an appearance by the president in October 2019. (AP Photo/Mike Schneider, File)

America in Crisis

‘White power’ flare-up in The Villages reveals tensions

A veneer of good manners usually prevails. Not lately.

There has always been a low-boil tension in The Villages retirement community between the Republican majority and the much smaller cohort of Democrats, but a veneer of good manners in “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown” mostly prevailed on golf courses and at bridge tables.

Those tensions, though, flared two weeks ago during a golf-cart parade for President Donald Trump’s birthday in which a man shouted, “white power,” when confronted by anti-Trump protesters. A video clip of that confrontation in America’s largest retirement community was tweeted approvingly by Trump last weekend and then taken down.

Some residents say they’ve never seen anything like the politically inspired hostilities that have surfaced over the past several months.

“It’s like a powder keg here,” said resident Alan Stone. “And Trump is just stirring the pot.”

In the past, when conflicting political views came up in The Villages, residents said it was best to say, “I disagree,” and quickly change the topic. But the emphasis on good manners has been tested like never before in recent months with the spread of the new coronavirus, the resulting stock market gyrations for a population that largely lives off retirement investments, the presidential race, and the calls for racial justice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“This has been brewing. Most people kind of agree not to discuss politics … and it had been accepted that with things being so divisive, you don’t get into it,” said Catherine Hardy, chair of the Sumter County Democratic Party.

The Villages’ population of more than 120,000 residents — among the fastest growing areas in the U.S. in the past decade — is about 98% white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are more than twice as many registered Republicans as registered Democrats in Sumter County, where most of The Villages is located.

The Trump parade occurred June 14 in the planned community immediately after a vigil was held by an African American philanthropic group to honor Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of the attendees at the vigil had left by the start of the Trump parade, although a white woman wearing “Black Lives Matter” on her shirt shouted profanities at the Trump supporters as they drove by in golf carts. A man driving by in a golf car responded by shouting, “white power,” a racist slogan associated with white supremacists.

“Most people, up until now, even if people felt that way, it was socially unacceptable to voice it,” Hardy said of the man’s remark. “The difference is under Trump, you can spew that hatred. What has changed is now it’s more acceptable.”

The flare-up at the Trump parade doesn’t represent the vast majority of residents of The Villages, although with the election year, there are some people, “who are exercised” and are becoming more vocal in expressing their views, said John Calandro, chairman of the Sumter County Republican Party.

Because of the coronavirus, more residents than usual are staying at home and watching the news, rather than going to the retirement haven’s famous happy hours and dances in its town squares, he said.

Some residents worry that the tensions of the past few months may make retirees think twice about moving to The Villages, whose founders have been longtime donors to Republicans and GOP presidential candidates. The Villages is often a popular campaign stop for GOP national and statewide candidates.

“I don’t think The Villages wants this kind of publicity,” Stone said. “People are saying, ‘What the hell is going on in The Villages?’”

But Calandro said any dissension among residents is overblown.

Calandro said when he plays golf with his Democratic friends, the biggest fights they get into aren’t about politics — they’re about who gets to take an extra putt on the green without being penalized.

“We aren’t having arguments on every street corner here,” Calandro said. “The Villages is still The Villages. We worked all of our lives to live here, and it’s a great place to live.”


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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  1. white man

    June 29, 2020 at 5:55 pm



    June 29, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    It was very obvious in the tweet that because white folks were calling him a racist and bigtot, and because he’s probably as fed up with it as all Trump supporters are, he responded with a smart ass answer, white power. He was obviously not serious. We r all fed up w/being called racists/homophobes/xenophobes/sexist. It is a liberal weapon. I’ve heard Obama call all white cops racist. How many folks use the words cra__er, white tra_h and hillbi__y in their households? Really think about that!! Racism does exist today. The brunt of today’s racism exists on the left. What’s the difference between racist and bigoted statements yesterday and today? My conservative biracial sons have been told they are not black enough and are traitors to their race. I’ve seen over and again folks on MSNBC/CNN bash “old white men” of which I have 2 in my family and from whom I’ve never heard a racist word or comment out of their mouths in my 65 years of life. I remember when JayZ said that “It’s about time we got the white out of the White House” just days after Obama’s inauguration. The division started with Obama who divided us by race, class, religion, gender. It is a convenient weapon for liberals. Remember when Van Jones called the Trump victory a “white lash”? Why is this racism accepted? For political purposes with the end goal of taking back control of the power and money. Liberals are willing to destroy lives, livelihoods, our right to safety and to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in order to achieve their radical agenda. They are insane.

    • p

      June 30, 2020 at 11:53 am

      When people show you who they are…believe them. He meant every word

  3. Booner

    June 30, 2020 at 8:45 am

    When you get too many extreme people in one place they are bound to feed on each other. It appears the residents of the Village are too tightly packed. Their proximity increases the chance for disease and the spread of virulent brain rash.

    They have become TDS = Trump-Deluded Snowflakes and anyone in their vicinity should practice Social Distancing and use ear plugs, or turn off their hearing aids.

    One wonders what will happen when Trump loses re-election. All those red hats will go into the trash and life in idyllic Disney North will get back to the new normal: Boost, Maalox and Nyquil.

    • p

      June 30, 2020 at 11:54 am


  4. True Blue

    June 30, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    That man could have yelled ” Biden for President”, ” No more Trump”, ” Make America Great again” ..amything other then what he DID say. He is a disgrace, it is shameful, and I don’t want to hear about how he’s a Veteran or how many wars he fought in. He Showed his true colors, and they are NOT red, white, and blue. Terrible.

  5. GooglePlex

    July 1, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    come on, the shavtza’s and their snowflake young white friends are running amock. Enough is enough.
    All lives matter!!!!

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