For many months now the tension around activists involved the Gubernatorial Primary has reached a fever pitch. The name calling which has dominated social media in recent weeks reached a new level in the past seven days with the temperature rising seemingly on a daily basis. The willingness of some Nan Rich supporters to attack Charlie Crist supporters on Facebook and Twitter for being “corporate stooges” coincides with Charlie Crist supporters calling “Nan fans” either “delusional” or “closeted Rick Scott supporters.”
While in the big picture the fights between groups of supporters on social media or in the comments section of this and other blog sites does not truly matter it does have an impact on the morale of activists. This past week, while I was traveling the state on behalf of George Sheldon’s Campaign, I kept getting hearing about what was being said on social media. Upon reading some of the threads I was sickened.
Certainly it is fair and productive to have strong opinions. Supporting one of the two primary candidates openly and aggressively requires a certain degree of passion and commitment and that is to be admired. But the personal nature of the barbs, the name-calling and the efforts of some to aggressively attack supporters of the other candidate without provocation is worrying.
Regardless of individual personal feelings at this moment in time, the vast majority of Democrats will be on the same team come August 27th. Those who say they won’t support the nominee or are reluctant to will change tunes come the General Election. I have seen this song before and always the bulk of party activists come together following a primary. Some lingering bitterness always remains, but by and large those committed to the cause of progressive values end up working for the more progressive candidate.
So let’s establish a few principles that should be followed from here on out.
Here are the premises that should be followed:
- People supporting Charlie Crist are not “sellouts” or “corporate stooges”. Some Progressives, particularly those concerned about Environmental issues have every right to support Governor Crist. Even as a Republican, Crist was a strong environmentalist. Stronger than many Democrats at the time.
- Those supporting Nan Rich are not “delusional,” “working for Rick Scott,” or “idiots.” Many progressives have good reason to support Senator Rich and suspect Governor Crist’s recent conversion to progressive ideals on non-environmental issues as politically motivated.
- Some who oppose Senator Rich do so because they have had negative personal dealings with her, and the same can be said for some opposing Governor Crist. These are personal decisions and MUST be respected by the peanut gallery out there.
- Equating support of Charlie Crist to that of a Republican or Rick Scott is plain ignorant of Florida’s History. Through the years many individuals have switched parties and run for office. Several have not moved ideologically after party-switching. To Governor Crist’s credit his current policy positions have to be considered towards the left of the political spectrum. This might be a political calculation, but where he stands today is well within the Democratic mainstream.
- Florida has never had a female Governor. The state has never seen a major party nominate a female candidate besides Alex Sink. This is despite the fact we have had a female US Senator and female cabinet officers. These are shocking and sad indictments of the political culture in the state. Women and those who tend to back female candidates for office have every right to support Senator Rich openly. Doing so does not make them tacit allies of Governor Scott and the Republicans.
- Those who say Nan Rich is running for Governor because she is being “put up by the Republicans” are just flat out off the mark, and it is unwise for those trying to have an elevated discussion to repeat these sorts of baseless allegations.
It is okay to be strongly and passionately for Governor Crist or Senator Rich. But the bomb throwing should stop. Ultimately in just over two weeks, Humpty Dumpty is going to have to be put back together and it will be a lot easier if folks were just civil with one another.