It’s amazing how many controversies in our area are blamed on “politics.”
The recent disagreements regarding Crab Island— “politics.” Unfettered growth in Destin—“politics.” Rules and regulations concerning jet skis, pontoon boats, and anything else—“politics.” Tree ordinances, parking issues, the creation of public parks— “politics.” Malfeasance in the sheriff’s department, the country commission, the tourist development council, or the school board—“politics.”
Basically, our country has a two-party system. In theory. In our neck of the woods, it’s different. Okaloosa County, like much of the Panhandle, is solidly (75-25 percent) registered Republican. In Destin, the ratio is more like 90 to 10 percent. When you live in an area that is so dominated by one party, you should expect to be governed by that party’s elected leaders.Even on a national level—where the ratio between Democrat and Republican voters is much more balanced—Republicans rule the House, the Senate, the executive office, and now the Supreme Court.
I was born a Democrat and I’m sure I’ll die one. My father was a Democrat and my mother is a Democrat. That’s normally the way it works. There is nothing unusual about following the political leanings of your parents.
Most of my friends are Republicans. There should be nothing surprising about that. I’ve lived a long life surrounded by people who I disagree with on numerous political topics. But that doesn’t have much to do with friendship.
However, when I’m at home or at any family gathering, I’m almost entirely among Democrats. And not just any Democrats. I’ve got four generations of females whose hearts bleed. They range in age from 86 to two years old. Trust me—the two-year-old is a Democrat.
We whine, bitch, moan, gnash teeth, wring hands and bite nails. We watch Morning Joe (who has somehow morphed from our ultra conservative congressman to Mika’s husband). We react to President Trump’s tweets with disbelief. It’s not so much his policies that throw us into shock (even though they are generally horrendous, we’re certain he doesn’t have any strong beliefs)—it is his butchering of the English language, his boasting and bullying, his lack of curiosity, his refusal to read anything, his tweets with capital letters and exclamation marks, and his love of tyrants that drives us further into insanity.
We intently watch his prepared remarks in rapt anticipation of the moments when he goes off-message, when he gazes into the air and says what he really thinks…not what his advisors have written for him. That, for us, is fun.
Here, in deeply conservative Okaloosa County, I know of no party-affiliated elected Democrats. None. Our county commission, city councils, state and federal representatives, school board—whatever we’ve got—they are Republicans. Here it’s all Republicans, all the time. In an area that is so dominated by Republican residents, that’s what you get.
Our area has had close to 30 years of total domination by Republicans. Republican leaders have had three decades to show us the wonderful nature of the principles of conservative rule. We’ve had plenty of time to watch how the Republican mantra—less taxes, less government, fiscal responsibility and property rights—plays out in real life.
We haven’t had any gridlock here. We’ve had the opposite of gridlock—a smoothly paved road to a conservative utopia.
However, it poses a real problem for the huge number of conservatives here.
Republicans have forfeited the right to blame politics for every woe that befalls us. We know of no other political system here except for the one brought on by the conservative political philosophies that we’ve seen in action now for a long time.
Republicans will continue to govern the Panhandle, but for God’s sake don’t whine and bitch about your own style of leadership.
That’s our role.