24 October 2005

The fight for fair elections is now

The bipartisan effort to create a fair process for drawing congressional and legislative districts in Florida has hit a bump in the road. Politicians in Tallahassee are pulling out all the stops to maintain their stranglehold on power in Florida. Opponents of fair districts have run to court, filing motions to prevent voters from deciding this issue next fall. And partisan members of the Florida Legislature are already using our tax dollars for their own political agendas. The Committee for Fair Elections has been successfully collecting signatures from Florida voters in order to place this issue on the ballot next year, but they still may fall short with the electorate. If the proponents of fair districts don't form a politically strong argument for this issue soon, they will lose this fight before it even begins.

The redistricting issue is a complex one. While readers of political blogs are familiar with the flawed process in Florida, most voters are not. Fair election advocates have failed to create a strong argument for their position, including preemptive strikes against their likely opponents. Now that the enemies of democracy in Florida have reared their ugly heads, the Committee for Fair Elections must not wait any longer. They must act now.

First, supporters of the amendments need to stop talking about redistricting or reapportionment. Talk about fair elections.

Voters don't know what the terms redistricting or reapportionment mean. This issue is about fair elections. The Committee for Fair Elections needs to circulate a memo instructing all supporters to refer to these initiatives as the Fair Elections Amendments, not the Redistricting Amendments. Voters will understand this.

Second, the Committee for Fair Elections must define its opponents.

A number of Congressmen and state legislators have joined forces to defeat the Fair Elections Amendments. The Committee should make them the issue. Voters must understand these politicians' motivations.

All but one of the opponents of the Fair Elections Amendments are Republican. Florida Democrats hold a registration advantage over Republicans, but the GOP holds just under two-thirds of the state senate, more than two-thirds of the Florida House, and nearly three-quarters of the Florida Congressional delegation. Of course, Republicans would like us to believe that this is because the voters agree with them on issues like high deficit spending, political corruption, and government intrusion in end-of-life decisions, but those who are honest will admit that the system is rigged. These Republican politicians only oppose the Fair Elections Amendments in order to preserve their own political power.

The only Democrat to officially oppose the Fair Elections Amendments, Senator Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), represents a district where 65.04% of the voters are Democrats. Senator Lawson has a reason to oppose the amendments - his own self-preservation. Senator Lawson has put his own interests over those of the citizens of Florida, and proponents of fair elections should point out his true motivation.

Supporters of the Fair Elections Amendments have done an exceptional job in collecting signatures in order to place the issue on the ballot next fall. Unfortunately they have failed to create a coherent message for why voters should agree with them. The winner of this issue next November will likely be the one who successfully defines the issue. For the sake of Florida's future, let's hope that the Committee for Fair Elections gets moving soon.

23 October 2005

I'm back ... sort of

I've been away from the blogging scene for awhile. I frankly didn't see the need to simply report the news and duplicate the efforts of other good blogs like Florida Politics and Florida News.

I intend to post from time to time, but not on a regular basis - just when important issues arise. This blog will feature more editorial-type pieces instead of a listing of regular news events.

Welcome back and thanx for visiting!