Daniel Tilson: Florida needs its ‘unlikely voters’ to restore majority rule

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Anti-government, anti-Obama, anti-Democratic Party, hardcore conservative voters no doubt constitute a majority of the 4.1 million or so registered Republicans in Florida.

But they’re a minority of the state electorate overall, representing maybe a third of 12 million registered voters statewide.

Nonetheless, Democrats and independents who comprise the large majority of voters repeatedly let these extreme conservatives pick our governor, state legislators and public policy priorities.

That’s why Florida’s wealthiest residents and biggest corporations are awash in soaring incomes and record profits, while most of the rest of us are left swimming upstream, trying to stay afloat in an economy built to beat down our appetite for political or electoral action.

That roadmap has worked pretty well for the Republican Party of Florida. By getting rid of decades-old wealth taxes on rich people and corporations and making sales taxes on poor and middle-class folks the state’s primary source of income, a record-breaking era of income inequality was ushered in — along with a record-breaking lack of upward mobility.

Meanwhile, unemployment benefits are among the stingiest and hardest to qualify for nationwide.

Minimum wages remain stuck below $8 an hour.

Meanwhile, $52 billion in federal health care funding to expand Medicaid was rejected by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, leaving nearly 1 million poor Floridians uninsured. In turn, middle-class taxpayers must pay for the costly emergency room care uninsured people turn to when they get sick.

There’s more, and none of it is good news for the 98 or 99 percent of us who aren’t rich. Discouragement and hopelessness, stress and exhaustion, cynicism and disbelief about whether voting matters — all play factors in keeping too many in our Democratic-independent majority on the sidelines.

That leaves the door wide open for continuing government control by the minority GOP extremists. They are mostly white, older, more economically secure — and fearful of losing ground, privilege and power to people of color, immigrants, lower income and other needy people.

They know they’re in the minority, they’re increasingly paranoid about it, and they’ll do whatever they can to keep the twin tides of social justice and economic fairness from rising over them.

That’s why they embrace or fall prey to the rhetoric and politics of being anti-government. They don’t want their taxes and elected officials meeting the needs of those they’ve come to see as threats.

That’s why they usually vote in higher percentages than Democrats and independents, especially in non-presidential elections like 2014, to keep the status quo at the all-important state level.

That’s why they’re turning out like crazy in 2014 for Gov. Rick Scott and a hyper-partisan, conservative extremist crop of Republican legislators.

In response, The Florida Democratic Party and its grassroots activists are reaching out to and for unlikely and undecided majority-bloc voters on an unprecedented scale.

The challenge for unlikely Democratic-independent voters is to reach back, put aside cynicism and apathy, and vote to rebuild a new representative majority government in Florida.

Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Daniel Tilson



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