Politics in 2023: Looking ahead at Don vs. Ron, MAGA madness and the race to the right

Gazing at a crystal ball on the beach at sunset—a Florida way to discern the future.

Jan. 1, 2023 by David Silverberg

New Year’s parties are celebrations of hope that the year to come will be better than the year past; that problems will be solved, challenges met and new opportunities open.

But just what are the political challenges and events Southwest Florida, the Sunshine State and the nation are likely to face in 2023? As the immortal Yogi Berra once put it so well: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Tough as predicting is, existing trends provide some indication of where things are going and when it comes to politics, it’s wise to be ready for what’s ahead—or at least to brace for it.

Don vs. Ron vs. Joe

Are you already tired of hearing about the rivalry between former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ronald DeSantis (R)?

Well, too bad. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

This is the political story likely to dominate the year. It’s got everything: colorful characters, high stakes, nasty insults, personal rancor, fanatical partisans, absurdity galore, mentor vs. protégé, sorcerer vs. apprentice, and horse-race polling to generate headlines as each candidate pulls ahead or behind ever more exotic and narrow slices of the electorate.

What’s more, the rivalry will fill in the news gap between election years, when there’s usually little happening, so political reporters can always cover the contest when they’re on deadline and there’s nothing else to report.

As a result, every belch, snort and fart from these two will be analyzed and evaluated through a campaign lens.

At issue, of course, is the presidency and with it the future of the United States. That part is serious.

Integral to this story will be the indictment and prosecution of Trump for a long list of transgressions stretching back from before his presidency.

Not only has Trump now officially been accused of actual crimes: obstructing an official congressional proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to make a false statement; and aiding an insurrection, but if tried and found guilty, he’s facing punishment. Whether this actually happens is already a major story and it won’t be resolved any time soon.

But beyond that question, the entire political establishment, both Democratic and Republican, the “deep state” and the mainstream media and a majority of voters don’t want him back and genuinely fear his possible return. They will do all they can to stop him. The fate of American democracy hangs in the balance.

Also, while it’s easy to forget the existence of Democrats in Florida, nationally they’re still a force to be reckoned with and the chief Democrat, President Joe Biden, has a big decision of his own to make: will he run again?

Expectations are that an announcement may come in February. If he announces another run, the media will focus on that. But if he chooses to retire there may be another Democratic stampede for the nomination as there was in 2020. If he decides to anoint a successor, the focus will be on the heir apparent, who, like DeSantis, will have to walk a narrow and difficult course for the next two years to preserve his or her viability. Or if he decides not to declare, the speculation will be prolonged for another year.

A more intense and exhausting drama than all this could not have been dreamed up by William Shakespeare. And all next year’s a stage.

Congress and revenge

Had the hoped-for Republican “red wave” materialized, Republican members of Congress would have taken revenge on Democrats in a thousand different ways. They would have pushed legislation to turn back the clock to implement the Make America Great Again (MAGA) agenda. They very well might have impeached President Joe Biden for the high crime of being a Democrat. They would have tried to undo or cover up the felonies of the insurrection and would have done all they could to exonerate, excuse and elevate Trump.

Republicans are still likely to try those things. Expect a cascade of House investigations in an effort to weaken and undermine the administration and Biden’s re-election. It will be a replay of Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails on steroids.

However, when it comes to substantive legislation, Democrats kept the Senate, meaning that no matter how extreme the proposals coming out of the House, none are likely to make it into law.

The United States has dealt with divided government before and some sessions were surprisingly productive. That doesn’t seem likely this time, though.

In the past, reasonable compromise was considered not just respectable but a strength of the American system. Trump, though, brought an absolutist, zero-sum, win-lose approach to government and politics. He infected his party and about half the population with that attitude. Until time passes and that fever burns off, much of the essential functioning of government could be stymied by political intransigence.

This could especially manifest itself in September when the new fiscal year appropriations must be approved. We could see a government shutdown—or shutdowns—at that time if House Republicans dig in.

The possibility of that happening means that measures to protect Southwest Florida need to be implemented before the showdown. In particular, Congress needs to pass the Harmful Algal Bloom Essential Forecasting Act, which would ensure that federal activities monitoring and responding to harmful algal blooms like red tide will continue despite any shutdowns.

This legislation needs to be passed early, with bipartisan support. The bill was originally the idea and a priority of former Rep. Francis Rooney, who was unable to advance it.

Unfortunately, the key congressman on this legislation, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), who introduced the bill in the last Congress, has shown little to no interest in it. Nor has he shown any legislative ability, so it has few prospects in the 118th Congress.

Unless someone in the Florida delegation is willing to pick up this cause and champion this legislation, Southwest Florida will be at the mercy of a deadlocked, recalcitrant Congress, which in turn will leave the region, literally, at the mercy of the tides.

DeSantis and the race to the right

The most dangerous kind of politician is the kind who actually believes what he says. Ron DeSantis appears to believe a lot of the extremism he espouses.

He has clearly decided that when it comes to policy he cannot allow himself to be outflanked on the right, either at home or nationally. No matter how absurd or illogical the premise he seems convinced that he must be leading the ideological charge—even if it’s headed over a cliff.

This led him to wage cultural war on science, education, vaccines, immigrants, gays and public health during 2022. It won him a resounding re-election in Florida. There’s no reason to expect any change in the next year.

In fact, it’s likely to intensify given his presidential ambitions and the rise of his rivals. For example, in September DeSantis generated headlines by spending state money to fly Venezuelan asylum-seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts without any prior notice or coordination. Potential presidential candidate Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) couldn’t let that go unanswered, so, in December he similarly bused Central and South American immigrants from Texas to Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence in Washington, DC.

We’re likely to see a lot of such posturing in the year ahead, using people as pawns.

But it won’t just happen at the presidential level. In Florida, given the Republican supermajority in the legislature, the race to the right will be a dominant force there too. State legislators can be expected to prove their MAGA bona fides and curry favor with DeSantis and the far-right base by introducing ever more extreme measures.

One place where this is likely to express itself is in abortion. Last year Florida passed a 15-week abortion restriction. That’s unlikely to stand as state legislators vie to show the depth of their extremism. Anti-abortionists want a complete ban on abortion in the state. DeSantis has coyly stayed uncommitted. Republican legislators have no such restraints. A total abortion ban looms. And who’s going to stop them? Democrats? Certainly not Naples’ own Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28-Naples), who now presides over the state Senate.

Another area is education. DeSantis reached down into local school boards to endorse his own partisans. In the past year state legislators proposed their own measures and Southwest Florida representatives were in the lead. State Rep. Spencer Roach (R-76-Fort Myers) proposed making school board races overtly partisan. Rep. Bob Rommel (R-81-Naples) wanted to put video cameras in classrooms to monitor the dangerous teachers teaching there. In 2023 not only are we likely to see more such measures introduced, they’re likely to pass and be signed into law.

This kind of extremism is particularly manifest locally in Collier County where MAGA candidates now constitute a majority of the county school board. Jerry Rutherford (District 1) revealed after his election that he wants to impose corporal punishment to enforce more rigid and punitive conformity on students, a MAGA rallying cry.

Despite the outrage from parents who suddenly woke up to what they had elected, Rutherford was officially ensconced in his position as was the rest of the board. The Collier County school system, which was previously ­rated the gold standard for the state, is now likely to crater as dogma, discipline and docility take the place of education, enquiry and enlightenment as priorities for students.

Madness at the margins

One might think that all this success for MAGAism would satisfy its adherents. But exactly the opposite has proven to be true. The level of MAGA anger and rage is absolutely incandescent. Reflecting the fury of their increasingly cornered idol, Trump, MAGAs are lashing out in fury and their first target is the one closest at hand: moderate, traditional Republicans, the so called Republicans in Name Only, or RINOs.

MAGAs blame a less than fervent pro-Trump RINO establishment for the dissipation of the expected red wave. Their hatred is manifested in opposition to electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23-Calif.) as Speaker of the House. In Florida they’ve made a determined push to take over county Republican executive committees.

Will this rage dissipate in 2023? This does not seem likely. In fact, it’s likely to increase.

While DeSantis and MAGAs dominate Florida, in the rest of the country MAGAism is being marginalized as people defend democracy. Trump’s big lie about a stolen 2020 election appears more and more delusional and threadbare every day. Only the truly incredulous can continue to believe it. Election deniers did notably poorly in the 2022 election. More losing conservative candidates conceded defeat than followed the examples of Trump or Arizona gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake in charging fraud. And the conspiracies behind the insurrection were exposed by the January 6th Committee.

MAGAism is gradually being pushed to the fringes of American political life, where it lived before the advent of Trump. For those committed to the creed, however, the sheer frustration, the looming powerlessness, and the futility of their feelings are fueling a bitterness that is truly amazing to behold.

The advance of Republican centrism, the marginalization of extremism and the defeat of MAGAism will be a trend to watch over the coming year, especially as the majority of Americans outside Florida embrace more normal, constitutional politics. But every setback, every defeat, every restraint will fuel MAGA “hatred, prejudice and rage,” as Trump once put it. How that resentment expresses itself, in Florida and elsewhere, will be the other part of this story in 2023.

Storm damage

The dome homes of Cape Romano in 2021. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The 2023 political agenda of Southwest Florida is already set but its creator was not any politician. Rather, it was a storm named Ian.

Hurricane Ian was a force beyond the capacity of any human to alter or stop. Its sheer devastation and destruction will influence Southwest Florida for many years, probably for a generation at least.

In the coming year all Southwest Florida politicians will have to cope with and contribute to the recovery of the region, regardless of their political beliefs. The need is real and continues to be urgent.

Officials at all levels can assist by getting the money for rebuilding that the region is entitled to receive from the state and the federal government and doing what they can to get more. However, the fanatical anti-federal, anti-government, anti-tax, anti-investment ideology most local politicians espouse will not help. Instead it will lead to more actions like the mass resignation of North Captiva firefighters who were denied a reasonable budget increase and so left the service.

Nor will the governor’s line-item vetoes of local funding requests or the refusal of members of Congress like Donalds to request earmarks help the region. Voters and the local mainstream media have to keep watch and ask: who is helping Southwest Florida recover? Who is helping it get the resources it needs? Who is shirking? Names need to be taken and asses kicked when necessary.

Hurricane Ian should have also completely put to rest any residual argument about the reality of climate change. Between ferocious storms like Ian, the Christmas bomb cyclone and fire, flooding and blizzards, climate change is here. No reasonable, sentient human can muster an argument to deny it. Politicians of all persuasions have to acknowledge it and prepare the coastal population for its effects.

Will Florida and its politicians finally acknowledge this? Their sense of reality needs critical scrutiny in the year ahead.

If they need a reminder they need look no further than the famous dome homes of Cape Romano. Built on solid ground in 1982, with every passing year the Gulf encroached and the waters rose around them. This year Hurricane Ian provided the coup d’grace. The homes are now completely under water.

Unless Floridians wake up, the rest of Florida will follow.

The area of the dome homes in Cape Romano after Hurricane Ian. (Photo: NBC2)

Beyond the abyss

If current trend lines are projected outward, Florida’s political future in 2023 looks like a dark, gaping sinkhole of ignorance, illness and intolerance.

But it doesn’t have to be this way and the story that proved it in 2022 took place half a world away from Florida and the United States.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022—a date that will live in infamy—Russian president Vladimir Putin expected the war to be over in two to three days.

The world didn’t have much greater expectations. Ukraine was outnumbered, had less than half the population of Russia, had far fewer resources and a weaker army and appeared to be a rickety, corrupt ex-Soviet colony presided over by a former comedian.

Instead, through patriotism, determination and astonishing courage, Ukraine, its president Volodomir Zelensky and its people fought for their lives and country—and are winning battles and may actually achieve a clear, just victory.

It’s unlikely to occur soon, however. When wars break out people often expect a quick resolution to what is clearly a terrible and painful conflict. That’s what happened at the outset of the American Civil War and the First World War.

However, if history is any guide, Putin’s war in Ukraine may last through 2023 and beyond—as long as Putin is in power. Both sides have too much at stake to give in.

But the Ukrainian case serves as an example to everyone facing apparent inevitability. Determination and courage do make a difference and can hold or turn back a seemingly unstoppable tide of tyranny despite overwhelming odds. It happened in the American Revolution and in Britain’s defiance of Nazi Germany in World War II.

In Florida and the United States in the coming year those who still put their faith in justice and democracy and enlightenment can look to Ukraine’s example for inspiration.

When it comes to human events it’s always wise to remember that humans can affect those events and alter their course. Nothing is set in stone until after it happens.

The San Francisco radio station KSAN used to have a tagline: “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own!”

So in 2023, to paraphrase KSAN: if you don’t like this future, go out and make one of your own.

Liberty lives in light

© 2023 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

US House passes abortion rights and access bills; all SWFL reps oppose; Banyai blasts Donalds

The House side of the US Capitol. (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

June 15, 2022 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives this afternoon passed a pair of bills ensuring a woman’s right to choose and access to abortion services.

Southwest Florida’s members of Congress opposed both bills along with most other Republicans in Congress.

The first bill was the Women’s Health Protection Act (House Resolution (HR) 8296), which passed by a party-line vote of 219 to 210. It prohibits any restrictions on women’s access to abortion services, essentially codifying the rights and protections contained in Roe vs, Wade.

The second bill was the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act (HR 8297), which passed by a vote of 223 to 205. The bill prohibits interference with a person’s ability to travel to another state to access abortion services. Three Republicans voted with the majority: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1-Pa.), Adam Kinzinger (R-16-Ill.) and Fred Upton (R-6-Mich.).

“By passing this legislation, we will preempt and prevent state-level bans and restrictions put forth by extremist, anti-women state legislators,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a floor speech prior to the votes.  “We’ll ensure that all Americans enjoy the same fundamental rights to reproductive care – regardless of background or ZIP code.  And we offer hope to the American people who treasure our freedoms and who are overwhelmingly with us in our mission to defend them.”

Southwest Florida’s representatives, already on the record opposing women’s choice, were outspoken in their rejection of the bills.

Rep. Byron Donalds and response

“The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 is an affront to our system of Checks and Balances and blatantly ignores the Court’s ruling which allows states––not Congress––to enact abortion-related policy,” stated Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) in a tweet just prior to the vote. “I will vote NO on any effort to expand abortion access in America.”

In a more extended statement he called the Democratic Party “the party of abortion on demand and without limits, including the unconscionable practice of infanticide. This ideology is sick, perverse and erodes our nation’s moral compass.”

Cindy Banyai, the Democrat challenging Donalds in the 19th District tweeted: “Thank you Democrats for standing up for women’s rights and access to abortion care. It’s beyond time to codify Roe.”

She also blasted Donalds: “Rep Byron Donalds has made it clear – his religion trumps your health and your right to body autonomy. Donalds is pro-forced birth. And his insinuation that Democrats support infanticide is disgusting and dangerous misinformation.”

Jim Huff, a Republican challenging Donalds in the 19th Congressional District primary, stated in a message to The Paradise Progressive: “Had it been me in office I would have surveyed my district the instant Dobbs was finalized for a better justification to back up these votes. The state forms the local guidance, but the federal government protects the freedom to seek alternatives in other states. For example, certain types of weapons are legal in some states and not in others, yet people have the right to choose where they may live. I have to represent the majority of my district for these hard decisions, not my personal beliefs.”

Steube and Diaz-Balart

Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.), a long-time opponent of women’s choice, tweeted: “Over 63 million children have been murdered since Roe was decided. That’s not freedom – that’s genocide.” He also made a one-minute speech against the bill in which he denied there had ever been a right to abortion under the US Constitution.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) did not issue a statement on any platform in the immediate wake of the vote.

The bills now go to the Senate where they are not expected to gain the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and be passed into law.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

Banyai emerges as leading pro-choice voice in Southwest Florida politics

Democratic congressional candidate Cindy Banyai exhorts the crowd in Fort Myers, Fla., at a demonstration denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, this past Saturday, June 25. (Photo: Campaign)

June 27, 2022 by David Silverberg

In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s ruling last Friday, June 24, to overthrow the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, Cindy Banyai, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 19th Congressional District, has emerged as the leading political candidate supporting women’s choice in Southwest Florida.

All regional Republican officeholders and candidates are either on the record against choice, praised the decision or have not expressed an opinion.

In a lengthy statement issued the day of the decision in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Banyai stated: “The day we feared has come. Far right extremists have succeeded in stripping us of our rights. The partisan corruption of the Supreme Court has eroded trust in our institutions. The Dobbs ruling is yet another blow to our democracy and to freedom.”

Banyai, the mother of three, continued: “I believe we all deserve human dignity, to live life on our own terms. This means deciding when and where to have a family. Failing to recognize abortion as health care and the value of body autonomy will put lives in danger.

“The partisan corruption of the Supreme Court has eroded trust in our institutions. The Dobbs ruling is yet another blow to our democracy and to freedom.”

However, she exhorted her audience: “Do not lose hope, though. We must keep fighting—for our rights, for our children, and our democracy.”

Republican reaction

Given Southwest Florida’s Republican dominance, Banyai’s stance makes her the region’s only pro-choice political figure.

Banyai’s opponent, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), praised the Supreme Court’s ruling and has long been on the record against women’s choice, making it a fundamental part of his 2020 election campaign.

Among the region’s state legislators, state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28-Naples), the incoming president of the Florida Senate, was also quick to praise the Dobbs decision.

“I am grateful to see the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. These defenders of the Constitution have given the states rights to do what is right. Here in Florida, we will continue to defend life,” she tweeted following the decision announcement.

While retiring state Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-27-Fort Myers) has not issued a statement on the Dobbs decision, during his campaign for office in 2020 the nastiest charge that his supporters could hurl against his primary opponent, Heather Fitzenhagen, was that she supported choice, to the point that she was said to be a clone of House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.).

As of this writing, Jonathan Martin, head of the Lee County Republican Party and the primary candidate seeking to succeed Rodrigues in the newly-drawn 33rd Senate District, had not commented or stated a position on the Dobbs decision.

In Florida the defining legislation on choice was the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act (House Bill (HB) 5), which put new restrictions on abortions in the state, prohibiting them after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It was approved by the House by a vote of 78 to 39 on Feb. 17, approved by the Senate by a vote of 23 to 15 on March 3 and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on April 14. It goes into effect this coming Friday, July 1.

Lee and Collier counties’ state representatives, all Republicans, voted for HB 5.

Statewide response

On a statewide basis the picture was different but predictable, with Republicans praising the decision and Democrats condemning it.

DeSantis issued a statement: “For nearly fifty years, the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited virtually any meaningful pro-life protection, but this was not grounded in the text, history or structure of the Constitution. By properly interpreting the Constitution, the Dobbs majority has restored the people’s role in our republic and a sense of hope that every life counts. Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidates condemned the decision.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-13-Fla.): “Today’s Supreme Court decision to overturn nearly fifty years of progress by dismantling Roe v. Wade is shameful, harmful, and wrong. Without the protections of Roe, radical Republican governors and legislators, including those in Tallahassee, will now have the power to outlaw abortion entirely, regardless of the circumstances.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried: “This is a tragic day for women in America. The freedom to make our own choices about our lives, our bodies, and our healthcare is fundamental to our humanity. It’s absolutely devastating to have those rights taken away. It’s not an exaggeration to say that women and girls will die as a result of this decision.” She vowed: “In Florida, for now, we still have a provision in our state constitution that protects abortion rights – although that is in question as well. I promise that we will fight with everything we have to keep that from being overturned.”

Both of Florida’s Republican US senators praised the decision while Democratic senatorial candidate Val Demings condemned it.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

On momentous day, SWFL reps vote against final gun violence bill, praise fall of women’s choice

Protesters outside th e US Supreme Court yesterday. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ted Eytan)

June 25, 2022 by David Silverberg

Yesterday, June 24, Southwest Florida’s representatives in Congress voted against the final version of a bill to dampen gun violence and had fulsome praise for the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the right to abortion.

Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) all voted against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (Senate 2938), which imposes new restrictions on gun purchases, helps states establish “red flag” laws, funds mental health programs and increases school security. It was constructed as an amendment to a measure proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) renaming a court house in Tallahassee.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 193. Fourteen Republicans voted with the majority to approve the bill.

Having been approved by both chambers of Congress, the bill now goes to President Joe Biden for signature. (UPDATE: President Biden signed the bill into law this morning.)

While that vote was taken in the afternoon, at 11:00 am that morning the Supreme Court released its ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, striking down Roe v. Wade by a 5 to 4 vote.

Southwest Florida’s congressmen were quick to praise the Supreme Court ruling.

“Today, we saw the rule of law established under the Constitution prevail,” tweeted Donalds. “This monumental decision ends a once unconstitutional ruling riddled w/ judicial activism. Now the right to abortion rests in the hands of the people, where it belongs.”

“More than 63 million unborn children have been murdered by abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973,” tweeted Steube. “I applaud the Supreme Court’s courageous decision today to reverse Roe v. Wade.”

“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has applied sound constitutional principles to arrive at its opinion,” stated Diaz-Balart in a lengthy statement. “This decision is long overdue. The Supreme Court is to be commended.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

SWFL reps on Roe v. Wade leak; all have long-time anti-choice stances–Updated

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court last night. (Photo: Reuters)

May 3, 2022 by David Silverberg

Updated 3:30 pm with statements from Rep. Byron Donalds, Cindy Banyai.

This story will be updated as more information and comment becomes available.

Southwest Florida’s elected representatives were slow to respond or comment on a draft Supreme Court opinion striking down the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The draft opinion for the majority by Associate Justice Samuel Alito was made public by the news organization Politico at 8:32 pm last night. Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts confirmed its authenticity and announced an investigation to find the leaker.

In the opinion Alito argued that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” He calls for its complete overturn.

Of the region’s congressional delegation Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) was the first to comment on Twitter with three tweets starting at 7:41 am today.

“It is unfortunate that the news of the greatest victory for the Pro Life movement comes on the heels of one of the most profound breaches of trust the Court has ever seen,” he tweeted. “If the report is true, I am grateful that all of God’s children will now have a voice, and I am committed to ensuring that the leaker and their complicit partners in the media will be held accountable for their actions to the fullest extent,” he continued.

At 12:41 pm today Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), released a tweet and statement condemning the leak.

“Those liable for prematurely and irresponsibly unveiling this draft opinion have engaged in a historically dangerous political maneuver intended to intimidate Lady Justice and the Constitution that guides our Republic,” he tweeted.

In his formal statement he maintained that the leak was a crime and stated that America had fallen victim to “culture wars and clickbait journalism.”

In no statement, however, did he address the substance of overturning Roe v. Wade or a woman’s right to choose.

Cindy Banyai, a declared Democratic candidate for the 19th Congressional District, issued a statement saying “Conservative activist justices inappropriately appointed to the Supreme Court are about to send the United States back 50 years. The overturning of the right to medical privacy and abortion care should alarm all Americans.”

She continued: “I stand firmly in opposition to overturning the super precedent of Roe v. Wade. I believe people have the right to choose when and where to start a family. I believe people have a right to medical privacy and decisions about medical care should be made by a person and their medical practitioner, not pre-emptively made by the government.”

As of this writing Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) had not yet commented on any platform.

All of Southwest Florida’s Republican elected representatives ran on anti-choice platforms.

In his 2020 election bid, Donalds’ campaign tag line was: “I’m everything the fake news media says doesn’t exist: a Donald Trump-supporting, liberty-loving, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment black man.”

All of Southwest Florida’s state elected officials voted in favor of Florida’s “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality” bill (House Bill 5), which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on April 15. The law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. It is slated to go into effect in July and will likely stand if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade before then.

Of Southwest Florida’s state senators, Kathleen Passidomo (R-28-Naples) has consistently held an anti-choice position, telling Florida Politics in September 2021 that while she opposed abortion she was also uncomfortable with provisions of Texas’ anti-abortion law encouraging civil litigation against those providing or seeking abortions.

“I am pro-life but I am not pro-telling on your neighbors,” she said in a speech to the Argus Foundation in Sarasota at that time.

State Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-27-Fort Myers) reaffirmed his anti-abortion position to the Fort Myers Beach Observer in February.

Asked about Florida’s then-pending anti-abortion bill, Rodrigues told the Observer, “I hope it passes”—as indeed it did.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Help defend democracy in Southwest Florida—donate here!

2022, Florida and the future: Anticipating the political year ahead

A vision of Florida’s future? The dome homes of Cape Romano off the coast of Southwest Florida. When built in 1979 they were on solid land. (Photo: Andy Morfrew/Wikimedia Commons)

Jan. 3, 2022 by David Silverberg

At the end of every year, most newspapers and media outlets like to do retrospectives on the year past. They’re easy to do, especially with a skeleton crew: just go into the archives, pull out a bunch of the past year’s photographs or stories, slap them together, throw them at the readers or viewers and then staff can relax and party for the New Year. Or better yet, when it comes to a supposedly “daily” newspaper, don’t print any editions at all.

What’s much harder to do is look ahead at the year to come and try to determine, however imperfectly, what the big stories will be.

That takes some thought and effort but it’s much more valuable and helpful in setting a course through the fog of the future.

Although there will be surprises and any projection is necessarily speculative, there are a number of big issues in the nation and Southwest Florida that are likely to dominate 2022.

Democracy vs. autocracy

Donald Trump may no longer be president but the impact of his tenure lives on. Just how much will he and his cultists continue to influence events this year?

Although the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and coup failed, the effort to impose autocratic, anti-democratic rule continues at the state and local levels as Trumpist politicians push to create mechanisms to invalidate election results they don’t like.

Nowhere is this truer than in Florida where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is playing to the most extreme elements of his base as he tries to ensure his own re-election and mount a presidential bid in 2024. He also has to outdo his other potential presidential hopefuls, most notably Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

In Florida, the race is on to produce the most extreme, radical right measures both by DeSantis and members of Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature.

Examples of this include DeSantis’ 2022 $5.7 million budget proposal for an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State to investigate election crimes and allegations. In another time and in other hands, this might seem like a politically neutral and straightforward law enforcement agency, if a redundant and unnecessary one. However, given the past year’s efforts in Florida to narrow voting options and the continuing influence of Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, it could have more sinister purposes, like invalidating or discarding legitimate election results.

DeSantis is also proposing creation of a Florida State Guard, which would be wholly subject to his will and authority. The Florida National Guard, by contrast, can be called up for national duty and is answerable to the US Department of Defense in addition to the governor.

These efforts, combined with DeSantis’ past assaults on local autonomy and decisionmaking and his anti-protest legislation, are moving Florida toward a virtual autocracy separate and unequal from the rest of the United States.

The question for 2022 is: will they advance and succeed? Or can both legislative and grassroots opposition and resistance preserve democratic government?

The state of the pandemic

The world will still be in a state of pandemic in 2022, although vaccines to prevent COVID and therapeutics to treat it are coming on line and are likely to keep being introduced. However, given COVID’s ability to mutate, new variants are also likely to keep emerging, so the pandemic is unlikely to be at an official end.

Globally, vaccines will be making their way to the poorer and more remote populations on earth.

In Florida and especially in Southwest Florida, vaccination rates are high. However, there’s no reason to believe that anti-vaccine sentiment and COVID-precaution resistance will slacken. Further, as President Joe Biden attempts to defeat the pandemic by mandating and encouraging vaccines, Republican states are trying to thwart mandates in court. At the grassroots, as rational arguments fail, anti-vaxxers are resisting COVID precautions in increasingly emotional and extreme ways, potentially including violence.

In Southwest Florida the political balance may change in favor of science as anti-vaxxers and COVID-deniers sicken and die off. This will reduce their numbers and their political influence. As their influence wanes that of pro-science realists should rise—but it’s not necessarily clear that realistic, pro-science sentiment will automatically translate into equal and opposite political power.

This year will reveal whether the DeSantis COVID gamble pays off. He has bet that resisting and impeding COVID precautions in favor of unrestrained economic growth will result in political success at the polls.

Will Floridians forget or overlook the cost in lives and health at election time? It’s a result that will only be revealed in November.

Choice and anti-choice

Abortion will be a gigantic issue in 2022. Anti-choicers are hoping that a conservative majority on the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade and abortion will be outlawed.

A Supreme Court ruling on a Mississippi law outlawing abortion is expected in June. There may be a ruling on Texas’ ban on abortions before then. If Roe is overturned, a number of Republican state legislatures are poised to enact their own bans based on the Texas model and Florida is one of these.

If House Bill 167 passes the Florida legislature, it will inaugurate an environment of civil vigilantism as individual citizens sue anyone suspected of aiding or performing abortions. It’s hard to imagine anything more polarizing, more divisive or more destructive both at the state level and grassroots, as neighbor turns on neighbor.

By the same token, the threat to safe abortion access may galvanize political activism by pro-choice supporters regardless of political party. That was the situation in Georgia in 2020 when a fetal heartbeat bill was passed and signed into law, only to be thrown out in court. Politically, the issue helped turn the state blue.

This year, if Roe is struck down, millions of women may turn against an anti-choice Republican Party and mobilize to enact reproductive rights legislation.

What will be the reaction if Florida follows Texas’ lead and enacts an abortion ban?

Whichever way it goes, abortion will be a sleeping but volcanic issue this year. It will erupt when court decisions are announced. It has the potential to completely reshape the political landscape.

Elections and redistricting

All other issues and debates will play out against the backdrop of a midterm election. Nationally, voters will be selecting 36 governors, 34 senators and the entire House of Representatives.

The national story will center on whether Democrats can keep the House of Representatives and their razor-thin majority in the Senate. In the past, the opposition party has usually made gains in the first midterm after a presidential election. That is widely expected to happen again this year.

In Florida, DeSantis is up for re-election as is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), all state senators, all state representatives and county and municipal officials.

DeSantis is a base politician, in every sense of the word “base.” He doesn’t try to appeal to all Floridians but has clearly decided that his victory will be won by pandering to his most extreme and ignorant supporters—including Donald Trump. His actions reveal that he is calculating that this will give him sufficient support to keep him in office and provide a platform for the presidency in 2024.

Trump, however, is a jealous god and has lately been denigrating his protégé, whom he apparently sees as a potential threat for 2024 and getting too big for his britches. DeSantis may face a Trump-incited primary on the right from Roger Stone, the previously convicted and pardoned political trickster and activist, who lives in Fort Lauderdale.

If the Stone primary challenge does indeed materialize, it will make for one of the great political stories of 2022.

The primary action on the Democratic side will be between the three candidates for the Party’s gubernatorial nomination: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-13-Fla.), a former governor; Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide Democratic officeholder; and state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-40-Miami.). This battle will be resolved on primary election day, Aug. 23.

On the Senate side Rep. Val Demings (D-10-Fla.), is currently the leading contender to take on Rubio, although Allen Ellison, who previously ran in the 17th Congressional District, is also seeking the Party’s nomination.

In Southwest Florida Democrat Cindy Banyai is pursuing a rematch with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.). Currently, no other Democrat is contesting her candidacy.

The congressional and state elections will be occurring in newly-redrawn districts and the exact boundaries of all districts, congressional, state and local, will be a major factor in determining the political orientation of the state for the next decade. The Republican-dominated legislature, which begins meeting on Jan. 11, must finalize the state’s maps by June 13, when candidates qualify for the new districts.

If the maps are overly gerrymandered they will be subject to court challenges. In 2010 court challenges were so numerous and complex that maps weren’t finalized for six years. This year state Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-27-Fort Myers), who heads the Senate redistricting committee, has publicly stated that he wants to avoid a repeat of that experience by drawing fair maps at the outset.

Whether the final maps approved by the legislature are in fact fairly drawn and meet the terms of Florida’s Fair Districts Amendment, will be a major question in 2022.

Battle over schools

School boards were once sleepy and relatively obscure institutions of government and education was a quiet area of governance.

That all changed over the past two years. With schools attempting to keep students, teachers and employees safe with mask and vaccine mandates despite vocal opposition from COVID-denying parents as well as right-wing hysteria over the teaching of critical race theory, school board elections have become pointed ideological battlegrounds. Frustrated Trumpers are determined to impose ideological restrictions on teaching and curriculum and use school boards as grassroots stepping stones to achieving power.

In Virginia the 2021 gubernatorial race turned on the question of parental control of curriculum, resulting in a Republican victory. Across the country Republicans will be trying to duplicate that success by making education a major focus of their campaigns. The resulting battle is already fierce and poised to become fiercer. It has erupted at the grassroots as school board members have been physically threatened and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s mobilization of law enforcement assets to protect school board members was denounced by right wing politicians and pundits as threatening parents.

This is prominently playing out in Florida. DeSantis has proposed the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees [WOKE] Act to prohibit critical race theory teaching and allow parents to sue school board members and teachers. Locally, state Rep. Bob Rommel (R-106-Naples) has proposed putting cameras in all classrooms to monitor teachers. Local grocer, farmer and conservative extremist Francis Alfred “Alfie” Oakes, has demanded that teachers’ unions be “taken down” by “force.”

The school board elections of 2022 will not be what were once considered normal, non-partisan contests. They will be extreme, passionate, heavily politicized, bare-knuckled ideological battles. The outcome of these elections will determine whether students, teachers and school employees are kept safe from the pandemic, whether teachers are able to teach free of surveillance and liability, and whether the lessons imparted to students encourage open inquiry and critical thinking or narrow, ideologically-driven indoctrination.

Climate change—natural and political

The past year was one that saw some of the most extreme weather on record, clearly driven by a changing climate. Biden’s infrastructure plan had some measures to address these changes and build resilience in the face of what is sure to be climatic changes ahead. However, a major initiative to halt climate change is stalled along with the rest of his Build Back Better plan.

Climate change is the issue that undergirds—and overhangs—every other human endeavor. That was true in 2021, it will be true in 2022 and it will be true for the rest of the life of the human race and the planet.

Florida was extraordinarily lucky last year, avoiding the worst of the storms, wildfires, droughts and heat waves that plagued the rest of the United States.

Locally, Southwest Florida got a taste of climate change-driven weather when an EF-1 tornado touched down in Cape Coral on Dec. 21, damaging homes and businesses.

Nonetheless, on Dec. 7 at a Pinellas County event, DeSantis accused climate activists of trying to “smuggle in their ideology.”

“What I’ve found is, people when they start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. We’re not doing any left-wing stuff,” DeSantis said to audience cheers.

“Be very careful of people trying to smuggle in their ideology. They say they support our coastline, or they say they support, you know, some, you know, difference, our water, environment. And maybe they do, but they’re also trying to do a lot of other things,” he said.

This does not bode well for the governor or legislature addressing climate change impacts this year. Still, even the most extreme climate change-deniers are having a hard time dismissing it entirely.

Reducing or resisting the effects of climate change will be the big sleeper issue of 2022, providing a backdrop to all other political issues as the year proceeds. If there is a major, catastrophic event like a very destructive hurricane—or multiple hurricanes—DeSantis and his minions may have to acknowledge that the urgency of climate change transcends petty party politics.

Beyond the realm of prediction

It is 311 days from New Year’s Day to Election Day this year. A lot can happen that can’t be anticipated or predicted.

In past years a midterm election might seem to be a routine, relatively sleepy event of low voter turnout and intense interest only to wonks, nerds and politicos.

But the stakes are now very high and the dangers considerable. As long as Trumpism continues to threaten democracy and the future of the United States, nothing is routine any more.

The world, America, Florida and Florida’s southwest region are facing unprecedented perils. But as long as America is still an election-driven democracy, every individual has a say in how those perils are addressed.

That precious vote is a citizen’s right and obligation—and it can no longer be taken for granted.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

Planned Parenthood prepared for challenging year ahead

Improved patient navigation, offshore options being considered

Stephanie Fraim speaks to a gathering of Planned Parenthood supporters on Dec. 7. (Photo: Author)

Dec. 29, 2021 by David Silverberg

With major challenges to women’s health choices looming in the new year, Planned Parenthood of Florida is already preparing to adapt to a changed political and legal landscape, according to Stephanie Fraim, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

The changes include renewed and vigorous lobbying of relevant legislators and preparations to serve women’s health needs throughout the region.

Fraim spoke at a “Voices for Planned Parenthood—Let’s Get Loud!” gathering in Bonita Springs on Dec. 7. (Full disclosure: the author was a speaker on a panel at the event.)

Stephanie Fraim (Photo: Author)

“As you know Florida is poised to put in place whatever restrictions the Supreme Court puts in place whether that is a six-week Texas ban or the 15-week ban we heard arguments on last Wednesday or an overturning of Roe,” said Fraim.

“…Make no mistake, [anti-choice advocates] are clearly looking to the legislature to restrict access to abortion care and this legislature and this governor have our rights clearly in their sights,” she told the audience. “Of course we will fight every [anti-choice] law that Florida tries to implement.”

Fraim said Planned Parenthood would be fighting attempts to restrict choice on two fronts. The first was legislative and legal.

“As I said, we’re going to challenge the law that impacts our care but the real battle is going to happen at the ballot box. Right? We need people in our state house and Capitol that actually care about women and people’s health care.”

Fraim urged her listeners to get involved politically, support the Planned Parenthood Action Fund political action committee and in particular to express support for state Rep. Ben Diamond (D-68-St. Petersburg) and Sen. Lori Berman (D-31-Palm Beach County) who on Nov. 23 sponsored the Reproductive Health Care Protection Act (House Bill 709 and Senate Bill 1036) to protect women’s health care.

“On the second front, caring for our patients, getting them care and getting them to care, we will continue as Planned Parenthood to provide every bit of reproductive health care we’ve always provided and provide abortion care up to whatever the law allows, whether that’s six weeks or 15 weeks,” she said. “And, we are at the beginning stages of building one of the largest patient navigation systems in the state, connecting it to one of the largest patient navigation systems in the country.”

Planned Parenthood is putting together teams to help patients get to the health care services they need, she explained. As an example, Planned Parenthood clinics in Oklahoma saw a 500 percent increase in patients when Texas passed its restrictive anti-choice law. Florida’s Planned Parenthood is seeing an increase in Texas patients as well.

“If we lose the right here [in Florida], we will turn that and begin moving patients out of the state to where they need to go,” she said.

As an additional option, “we are thinking about a boat off the east coast of Florida. We seriously are.” A boat could legally provide women’s health services in international waters. Fraim said she had been contacted by a pilot with a float plane who could ferry patients to any vessel.

“I know, it’s horrifying,” she acknowledged. “But this really isn’t a ban on abortion, it’s a ban on safe abortion.”

A Supreme Court decision on Mississippi’s abortion ban is expected in June of next year. A challenge to Texas’ ban on abortions is ongoing, although on Dec. 10 the Supreme Court allowed it to remain in force.

In the meantime Planned Parenthood is actively seeking financial support. Until Dec. 31 all donations up to $500,000 will be doubled, thanks to a matching grant provided by an anonymous donor.

Liberty lives in light

(c) 2021 by David Silverberg

Pro and anti-choice demonstrators duel in contentious Naples protest

The demonstration at the outset of the event. (All photos: Author)

Oct. 2, 2021 by David Silverberg

On a day of national demonstrations in favor of the right of women to choose abortion, Naples, Fla., was treated to an unusually raucous and contentious rally by pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates.

There were no arrests, although individuals, particularly anti-abortionists, while staying non-violent, became aggressive at times. Demonstrators shouted dueling chants and anti-abortionists attempted to drown out scheduled pro-choice speakers.

The demonstration took place in front of the Collier County courthouse in the county government center at Airport Pulling Rd. and Route 41 and then moved to the sidewalk along Airport Pulling Rd.

At the scheduled start of the demonstration at 10 am, there were about 100 pro-choice demonstrators and 22 anti-abortion demonstrators present. Although the numbers swelled during the next two hours, the ratio of abortion opponents to supporters remained about the same. At its height perhaps a total of 300 to 400 people were in the crowd.

There was no separation between the demonstrators and police made no effort to keep them apart. According to one Collier County sheriff’s deputy, in the public space police were not authorized to keep the competing parties apart or intervene unless a crime was actively committed. Nor was a permit required for the “Mobilize and Defend Our Reproductive Rights” rally, so there was no need to enforce a permit’s requirements.

Pro and anti-choice demonstrators mix together as the rally proceeds.
An anti-abortionist weighs into the crowd to harangue demonstrators.
Collier County Sheriff’s deputies look on while the action unfolds.
Collier County teacher Corrie Vega recounts her experiences of sexual assault and harassment despite anti-abortion chants and heckling.
Rev. Tony Fisher of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Naples makes his speech despite anti-abortion heckling.
Pro-choice demonstrators line Airport Pulling Road after the rally on the Courthouse steps.

Liberty lives in light

(c) 2021 by David Silverberg

US House passes bill legislating women’s right to choose; SWFL reps oppose

The US Capitol. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Sept. 24, 2021 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives today passed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 (House Resolution (HR) 3755) permitting health care professionals to provide abortions, by a vote of 218 to 211.

The bill, introduced in June by Rep. Judy Chu (D-27-Calif.), effectively codifies the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in legislation by making abortion legal nationally.

All of Southwest Florida’s congressional representatives voted against measure, along with the rest of the Republican caucus.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28-Texas) was the only Democrat to break ranks and vote against the bill.

“Today, Nancy Pelosi is bringing the most radical pro-abortion legislation ever for a vote,” tweeted Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), who has long characterized himself as anti-abortion. “This indefensible bill would remove every protection for the unborn and would allow taxpayer-funded abortions up until birth. I’m proudly standing for life and voting NO.”

As of this writing, neither Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) nor Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) had issued statements explaining their votes.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) urged passage of the bill in a speech from the House floor.

“This is the first time…that we have a pro-choice Democratic [Majority] with a Democratic president,” she said. “And the timing could not be better, because of the assault that has been made on the constitutional rights of women in our country.”

She stated the Texas law effectively banning abortions “unleashes one of the most disturbing, unprecedented, far-reaching assaults on health care providers and on anyone who helps a woman in any way access an abortion, by creating a vigilante bounty system that will have a chilling effect on the provisions of any health care services.  And what’s next?  What’s next with these vigilantes and their bounty system?”

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-27-Volusia County) introduced House Bill 167 in the Florida House of Representatives to follow Texas’ lead in restricting abortions.

HR 3755 now goes to the US Senate, where passage is uncertain.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

Texas-like abortion bill filed in Florida; pro-choice coalition to protest Oct. 2 at Collier County Courthouse

Demonstrations planned across the country

Pro-choice demonstrators protest in Naples, Fla., on May 21, 2019. (Photo: Author)

Sept. 23, 2021 by David Silverberg

The fight over women’s reproductive rights in Florida was joined yesterday, Sept. 22, when state House Bill (HB) 167, a Florida version of the Texas abortion prohibition law, was filed by Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-27-Volusia County) at 9:14 am.

As the bill’s summary states, it: “Requires physician to conduct test for, & inform woman seeking abortion of, presence of detectable fetal heartbeat; prohibits physician from performing or inducing abortion if fetal heartbeat is detected or if physician fails to conduct test to detect fetal heartbeat; provides exceptions; authorizes private civil cause of action for certain violations; provides for civil remedies & damages.”

State Rep. Webster Barnaby (Photo: Barnaby campaign)

Oddly, while the introduction caused an immediate storm of protest from pro-choice activists and Democrats, Barnaby himself was silent about the bill, neither issuing a statement explaining his action nor posting any comment on his social media platforms.

Pro-choice groups around the country were already organizing for a National Day of Action to Mobilize and Defend Reproductive Rights on Saturday, Oct. 2. In Florida, the group Florida Reproductive Freedom is organizing rallies in 13 cities throughout the state.

In Collier County a coalition of groups has called for a major demonstration at the Collier County Courthouse in Naples that Saturday, Oct. 2, at 10 am for two hours. (Full disclosure: The Paradise Progressive is a sponsor.)

The demonstration is intended to get elected officials to commit to reproductive freedom.

Scheduled speakers include Stephanie Fraim, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida; Corrie Vega, a Collier County public school teacher and Rev. Tony Fisher of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Naples.

Angela Cisneros, co-founder of Collier NOW (National Organization for Women) and a scheduled speaker, stated: “We all desire to live a safe and healthy life, free to pursue our own paths. However, the types of bans passed in Texas and currently being framed here in Florida are in direct opposition to that premise. An abortion ban would be especially detrimental to those of us from communities with few resources that already face barriers to basic healthcare.”

State Senate prospects

The Florida Senate’s president, Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-10-Citrus and Hernando counties), may introduce similar legislation in that body.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28-Collier County), the Senate Majority Leader and a possible Senate president in 2022, told Florida Politics after the Supreme Court let stand the Texas law that she is “pro-life but I am not pro-telling on your neighbors.”

Passidomo said in a speech to the Argus Foundation in Sarasota that she does not favor an exact “cut-and-paste” of the Texas law for Florida.

“There are provisions in there that don’t make sense,” she said. “We need to do what’s right for Florida.”

Passidomo stressed, however, that she is an anti-abortion legislator.

Poster for the Oct. 2 rally at the Collier County Courthouse.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg