Four years ago, I took it on the chin for condemning the rush of progressives to back Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor. Unfortunately, I knew a little too much about Gillum’s character and ethics to find comfort with the idea of him being the standard-bearer for a party that should be focusing on ethics and integrity during the Trump years. Nothing I have ever said or done politically met with more ostracization for me personally, than the following two pieces, I link below from August and September 2018.
I will admit the backlash for the above two pieces was so great, I promptly stopped talking Gillum (or DeSantis) for the last month of that campaign and focused on the US Senate race and other items. That was cowardly on my part, in retrospect, but we’re all human and sometimes intense personal attacks lead us to pull our punches.
This week’s indictment of Andrew Gillum isn’t a surprise to me. His conduct was clear from his 2014 campaign for Mayor of Tallahassee onward as the two above pieces, written in the summer of 2018, indicate. Gillum’s ideology which was never really progressive until he saw an opening in the race for Governor, fooled many on the left – but more importantly they glossed over his obvious flaws as a candidate and ethical baggage- in addition to the clear pattern which meant it was only a matter of time before he erred again badly.
But the Gillum situation, which I don’t want to dwell on always was more than about the specific individual for me. It was about how progressives had sacrificed the most progressive of all values – ethics in government for the possibility of obtaining power and defeating “the party establishment.” (I personally dispute that Gwen Graham was more “establishment” than Andrew Gillum, but that’s a conversation for another day.)
Ethics and integrity matter. So now we have a situation where a GOP which is nationally led by Ron DeSantis and the Murdoch family-owned media believes in any means to an end, mimicking the authoritarian regimes of Viktor Orbán and others abroad. The left must maintain credibility to attack with full vigor the excesses and misdeeds of the DeSantis-led right.
DeSantis control of national “conservatism,” aided by the growing irrelevance and marginalization of Donald Trump means Democrats and progressives MUST be ethical. So when Democrats cross lines on ethics and integrity, don’t say “well the DeSantistans and right-wingers do it also, so we cannot unilaterally disarm,” but call them out!
I’ve seen too many Democrats this week say, “maybe we can manipulate the electoral college the way John Eastman and DeSantis wanted to” and so forth, using “if they do it, we should do it,” as a justification. Mimicking the behavior of DeSantis and other GOPers like him will not make progressives more effective – it will make them less progressive.
Progressives need to stick to proper ethics, and after all being ethical and transparent while advocating good government is the most progressives of all values.