I’ve lived most of my life in Coral Springs, so when last February 14 tragedy struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (half of MSD’s students come from Coral Springs) it impacted me profoundly.
A year later, what have we endured in terms of meaningful governmental action or dialogue to solve such problems? Not much.
Both parties and politicians of all ideological stripes bear blame, though few would own it. Florida is after all a state whose one-time shining example of leadership and innovation has descended into tribal, parochial, narrow-minded political leadership on so many fronts. In retrospect, why should we have expected the aftermath of this tragedy to have been any different?
Partisanship and tribalism characterize the year since the MSD shooting. The heroism and advocacy of the shootings survivors has been inspirational. But otherwise, the shooting’s fallout has just intensified the toxicity within political circles in both the state and Broward County.
Democrats have obsessed about gun control and many have skirted the discussion of accountability among officials in heavily Democratic Broward County. Meanwhile, Republicans have rallied around ideology and a desire to embarrass Broward’s Democrats.
The GOP in concert with the NRA have doubled-down on any suggestion that guns are to blame for mass shootings. Meanwhile many of the Democrats have doubled-down on any suggestion that anything other than guns could be responsible for such a tragedy.
Meanwhile, activists on the right call for removal of elected officials and school administrators while those on the left for partisan purposes take shots at Governor DeSantis’ justified decision to remove Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. Removing Israel, which should have happened after the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport shooting in January 2017, was overdue, but many partisan activists in Broward who have connections to the Sheriff sought to protect him and project the difficulties onto the school district.
In some regards, despite Israel’s removal these Democrats have succeeded. After battling DeSantis on Israel’s removal the campaign waged the last year by Israel’s defenders and other politicos against the Broward School District seems to have given the new Governor enough talking points to place educators in the crossfire going forward.
Broward County has about 250 schools which its School Board and Superintendent Robert Runcie are responsible for maintaining. However, the entire thrust of the board and administration, seven members of which are elected from single-member districts (six of which do not represent Parkland or Coral Springs) has been around one school the last 12 months – thanks in large part to politicians exploiting the tragedy to garner headlines and a subsequent media frenzy. Coral Springs and Parkland deserve answers and attention. But so does the rest of the county.
Selfishness and self-promotion has prevailed over common sense and pragmatic problem solving. Maybe it’s no coincidence that in nation currently led by a narcissistic alleged sexual predator who communicates by Tweet, that others behave in a similar fashion albeit more cloaked. Perhaps despite the constant critiques of Donald Trump, most of our leaders in both parties have a lot more of President Trump in them then they would like to admit.
The MSD shooting was a tragedy of epic proportions for a community that is more closely knit and less transient than many others in southeastern Florida. The actions of so many of the survivors have inspired me about the next generation to lead this state (if those survivors choose to remain in Florida- my guess is many won’t). The kids have shown us the way, but the adults refuse to listen.
As a local, the past twelve months have shattered my faith in our elected officials and political processes. It’s turned me against politicians and operatives of both parties – those who genuinely feel little remorse about this tragedy but sought to use it to advance their own agendas and careers. Perhaps my bitterness and anger at both political parties and at conservatives and progressives alike have blasted through on the pages of this website. I apologize for the tone, but believe my transformation from critic to full-on cynic was a direct result of the events of February 14, 2018 in my backyard.
Unfortunately this tragedy has demonstrated the dysfunction of Florida’s political culture. We can do better and let’s hope the next year leads to more productive discussions.