On the passing of Reubin Askew

The greatest Governor of this state or perhaps any southern state has ever had passed in the early hours this morning. Florida became the envy of the region and nation largely due to the efforts of one man – Governor Reubin Askew. It would not be an exaggeration to call him the greatest to ever hold any high office in this state. His vision for Florida and willingness to challenge the entrenched powers in the Capitol and halls of the legislature made him a unique individual in the development of a “new south,” which was forward and progressive looking.

For those of us who have been Democrats in this state for a long period of time, the Askew legacy was the benchmark we lived by and sought to see emulated in our public officials. Today is not the time to discuss how so many have fallen short of the high standards Governor Askew set but to hope that with his passing many newer elected officials will understand perhaps for the first time why he was so important to this state.

The 1970s were a golden era in Florida politics and the development of our state as an attractive destination for new residents, tourists and businesses. Our commitment to environmental protection and a high quality of life were second to none.  Florida was a place so many around the country wanted to mimic, unlike today when our state is so often the butt of cheap jokes.

Florida throughout much of the 1950s and 1960s was under the influence of reactionary and corrupt political forces. Askew aggressively changed that turning Florida into one of the most open and forward-looking states in the union.

When Governor Askew choose not to run for the US Senate in 1988 because he did not want to raise the money modern politics entailed, an era of good government and honest public service began to pass. By the time  the year 2000 arrived, Florida politics had chanced away from the greatness of the Askew era to something far less desirable.

All of this was due to Governor Askew’s leadership and courage. For more on the Askew legacy here is a review of two books about the 1970s in Florida politics that I wrote six weeks ago.

10 comments

  1. Kartik, this site could use an editor. I’d be happy to help—ProfessorRF@hotmail.com.

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    1. We’d love to have you. Drop us a line at thefloridasqueeze@gmail.com

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  2. Yep, Florida’s greatest governor! Also one of the fathers of “progressive” Florida politics. Too bad people have forgotten!

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    1. Nan Rich has never and will never forget Governor Askew. Time to shit or get off the pot. Time to support Nan with some bucks and some guts. Progressives step up and do the right thing and the smart thing.

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  3. Dems in 14 · · Reply

    As sad as this is perhaps you will finally realize that we live in a different era and now will stop obsessing about the 1970s and 1980s in Florida politics.

    Those days are long gone it’s about time the people who write for this site knowledged it. Stop judging the Democrats by those standards.Times have changed. Do we have people like askew or graham now? No but we potentially would if you stopped the teardown of the party the way you do.

    Yes he was a great governor but we have great Democrats today. The problem is you judge every Democrat that you write about in this state against these people from the 1970s and 1980s. Times are different. The political landscape is different. This state is more conservative. The Republicans have all the money and machinery. Get with reality.

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    1. If Nan is not our next Governor I will be working and contributing to a new party and you can kiss my ass. Just saying………..

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  4. Well said.

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  5. Yeah, Kartik, why have aspirations? What a waste of time. Why bother to shoot higher when you can glorify today’s mediocre, damaged and compromised pols. Why even talk about the great Democrats of the past? We’ll never be that good again, right?

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  6. Mark Lynn · · Reply

    So sad to learn of Gov. Askew’s passing. He was a true giant in the history of Florida politics. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and he was very articulate and a true southern gent! R.I.P Reubin O’D. Askew

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