With decades of experience in the Florida Legislature, we recognize when government functions well and when it is broken. That is why more than 130 former state legislators from both political parties have joined together to support Joe Biden for President.
This election is not about partisanship for us.
We are Democrats and Republicans from all parts of this great state. Some of us served together, and some of us met through this group. Some went on to serve as U.S. Senator, U.S. House members, Governor, state Cabinet members and Mayors. Some are defying our own political party for the first time, and others have warned of this moment for years.
But we are united for the common purpose of electing Biden.
As state legislators, we respected qualities such as institutional knowledge and expertise that now seem disregarded. When we were elected, we relied on those who served before us for insights on public policy and the legislative process.
We relied on the Legislature’s professional staff for facts, we considered the committee testimony of experts, and we listened to our constituents.
We also listened to each other. We came from different areas of the state and from diverse backgrounds. We understood we could not make informed decisions without gathering facts, relying on experts — and listening.
Those are precisely the qualities Donald Trump lacks, and his disregard for institutional knowledge and expert advice has led to the failure of this administration in so many areas.
Look at the consequences of the administration’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans, including nearly 15,000 Floridians.
As state legislators, we often disagreed over public policy. We often battled with the Governor — even if he was a member of our political party. We did not agree with every opinion issued by the Florida Supreme Court. We did not appreciate everything journalists wrote about us. That’s expected with three branches of government, two major political parties and a free press.
But we always respected each other and the institutions that make our democracy work.
We recognized the roles of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. We understood the importance of the First Amendment and the role of a vigorous media to hold government accountable.
Through his actions and his rhetoric, Trump has repeatedly attacked the integrity of the very institutions critical to sustaining our democracy.
With our years of public service, we urge Floridians to recognize the very real threat the incumbent President poses to our nation. Biden is not a perfect candidate, and some of us do not agree with all of his policies.
But we all recognize his decency, institutional knowledge, willingness to rely on facts and experts — and respect for the institutions that are the cornerstones of our democracy.
Jon Mills served in the Florida House from 1978-88 as a Democrat from Gainesville and was House Speaker from 1986-88. Paula Dockery served in the Florida Senate from 2002-12 as a Republican from Lakeland and has since registered as No Party Affiliation and Democrat, depending upon the election cycle. J.C. Planas served in the Florida House from 2002-10 as a Republican from Miami. They are members of Former Florida Legislators for Good Government, a new bipartisan group of more than 130 former state lawmakers who support Joe Biden for President.