Joe Henderson: Choosing lies over truth may not be so costly in Florida
Image via AP.

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Trumpism is on the 2022 ballot in Florida and can probably win.

In the pundit world, smart money says that Republican lawmakers who choose fables over facts will pay the price in the next General Election. The theory goes that they’ll lose the independent voters, and the base won’t be enough to bring them home.

Maybe it will work out that way in some places, but don’t bet Florida will be one of them.

I’d love to believe voters here would punish lawmakers who drone “yes, master” about Donald Trump’s lie of a stolen election, but not enough of them will.

Perhaps that’s because citizens bloated on conspiracies, lies, and Tucker Carlson believe it, too. And instead of merely following and supporting, they now lead the leaders. That’s how we got to a place where Liz Cheney lost her Republican leadership position for telling the truth.

It was a warning shot to the party’s leaders and any Republican with ambition. Florida GOPs, though, didn’t need the warning.

In today’s up-is-down world, truth is a nuisance and increasingly irrelevant. It only matters to Republican lawmakers what people believe in places like the Villages. If you’re a Republican and want to keep your job, you better march in squawk-step with the looney echo chamber.

Here’s the thing, though.

I’ll bet if you spoke with 10 Republicans and promised not to quote them, nine of them would agree that Trump lied about a stolen election. Hell, he lies about everything. They know this.

Matt Gaetz would be the holdout, but we expect that.

In a world where Republicans faced no political consequences for telling the truth, most of them would affirmatively nod that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric led to the riot at the U.S. Capitol. They would shun him.

I mean, the attack at the building where Washington leaders work played out on live TV. Everyone saw it, and everyone knows (or should) that Trump is responsible.

So, why won’t they say so?

We’re about to find out how much that matters because Florida is where Trumpism will be most on trial in 2022.

Democrats plan to make the case that Gov. Ron DeSantis is nothing more than a Trump toady. They’ll talk about the restrictive new voting law he championed and the nearly 36,000 (and counting) deaths here from COVID-19.

If I had to put money down now, though, it would be on DeSantis to win — and, depending on the opponent, possibly by a lot.

Axios reported U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy plans to challenge Marco Rubio in the Senate race. Rubio plays the suck-up to Trump game with the best of them, even tweeting that he “was lucky enough to be one of (Trump’s) first posts on his new “communication platform.”

I think it’s called a blog.

Democrats will attack Rubio on all sides, and his flip-flopping and moralizing (until it’s time to vote) leaves a lot of open ground.

Will it matter? Probably not.

Florida went against the trend in 2020, giving Trump a 3.3% win in a state he won by only 1% in 2016. He lost the overall general election — yes, HE LOST — by about 7 million votes. But he won Florida by nearly 400,000 votes, one of the largest state margins in the country.

If that trend continues 18 months from now, Florida voters would have given the guy exiled in Mar-a-Lago its official seal of approval. More importantly, it would show their approval for what he represents.

What happens after that? I’m not sure we want to know.

Joe Henderson

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.


2 comments

  • Charles

    May 12, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    One good article and then back to total journalism dishonesty. Congratulations, you are the recipient of Jackassery in Journalism.

  • Arborist Westminster Co

    May 15, 2021 at 7:02 am

    The lockdown approach, where people are constantly beat over the heads with these directives, where you have massive unemployment, where you have closed schools for a year in some of these places, not only has it been absolutely destructive to these societies, the COVID results per capita have been worse.

Comments are closed.


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