Endorsement: Good over evil

Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Sept. 27, 2020

Most of us lead our lives in shades of gray.

Daily, we make innumerable decisions of small importance. Our moral choices are usually of light significance and we select among options of greater or lesser compromise.

But every so often, perhaps only once in a lifetime, we face a choice of great consequence that is stark, uncompromising and absolute, one that has no shades of gray, only black or white.

This is such a time.

As Americans we still have a vote and if the mechanisms of our 244 years of self-rule and independence hold, that vote will count toward how we’re governed and determine our future and that of the nation.

This year the choice is between absolute good and absolute evil. Donald Trump and what he represents is evil. Joe Biden and what he represents is good.

Without hesitation or reservation we endorse good.

A dark reign

As has been stated in the past, it has always been the position of The Paradise Progressive that a media outlet covering politics has a duty to endorse. Following candidates and political developments on a regular basis gives journalists insights and knowledge that need to be shared with voters. Whether the outlet is national or local television, online or print or even a simple blog, it is the obligation of independent media in a free society to help voters make an informed choice. Any endorsement offends some people but that comes with taking a stand on anything.

This year the choice is stark but it is also easy.

The crimes, the corruption, the incompetence, the treason, the delusions, the divisiveness, the debaucheries and the failures of Donald John Trump have been amply documented throughout the past three-plus years.

To list them yet again is beyond the scope of this essay. Reiterating Donald Trump’s failings and evildoing is cathartic but unproductive, like being caught in an emotional whirlpool in a sea of hate.

Beyond the ugliness of this vile and vicious person we have also seen the depressing spectacle of what he has done to Americans’ sense of themselves as decent, moral, independent individuals. He has imposed a toxic and twisted personality and mindset on a nation that was once free, proud and brave and needs to be again.

America was founded amidst an age of absolute monarchs who said they ruled by divine right. The colonists who declared independence in 1776 could see that it was untenable to be governed by the whims and frailties of a single, fallible human being, no matter how much he glorified or exalted himself. When they won their freedom Americans put their faith in reason, in equality, in a spirit of sensible compromise and most of all, in institutions embodied in their Constitution. Those institutions included equal justice under the rule of law, checks and balances on power, and democratic participation.

Their faith worked and was rewarded. Those beliefs built the greatest, freest, most prosperous nation of any time or place in history. It was a light to the world, a shining city on a hill, an inspiration to all humanity, the scourge of tyrants, the refuge of huddled masses yearning to breathe free and the last, best hope of earth.

Donald Trump threatens all of that at the most fundamental level. That’s why it’s appropriate to put this contest in elemental terms of “good” and “evil.” It’s why it’s proper to speak of the “soul” of both the nation and its people. Joe Biden has called this a fight for the nation’s soul and he’s right.

And lest anyone think that these broad themes don’t apply at the local level, one need only look at this summer’s political contest here in Southwest Florida.

In this region’s Republican primaries we saw the spectacle of otherwise accomplished and sensible people abandoning reasoned decency and discourse in an effort to imitate Donald Trump. They spewed insults, fear, prejudice, subservience and flattery to win his favor and that of his most fanatical followers. They didn’t campaign for office; they worshipped a false god.

This is what Trump will reduce us all to if he’s given another term in office. He has attacked every institutional pillar of American governance; in a second term he would demolish them.

It also needs to be said that the Party of Trump is not the Republican Party, which once valued individualism, free thought and personal autonomy. The Trump Party is a mindless cult and, sadly, every Republican candidate has sworn fealty to it.

Returning to good

There is a saying that “America is great because it is good. When it ceases to be good it will cease to be great.” The line is attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French 19th century observer of America. While there’s some dispute whether he actually wrote that, even if he didn’t he should have, because it’s true.

It is one of the cruelest ironies of history that Donald Trump should have as his slogan “make America great again” because by leading America so far from goodness he has taken it so far from greatness.

In fact, it really is time to make America great again by making America good again and, as Joe Biden says, “build back better.”

We can all still do that with our votes. The time is now, while our votes still count and we’re still free. We need to preserve that freedom.

Therefore, here in Southwest Florida, we endorse the entire Democratic ticket and urge voters to vote Democratic straight down the line starting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president and vice president, Cindy Banyai for Congress and the entire slate of Democrats for all state and local offices.

You can see complete lists of Democratic candidates on the Lee County Democratic Party website and the Collier County Democratic website.

This year, like no other in America’s history, each of us needs to ensure that evil is defeated. Each and every one of us needs to make America good again.

Vote.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

SWFL’s 19th congressional endorsement race: Who’s ahead and who’s endorsing whom–UPDATED

08-06-20 Endorsements 2

Aug. 7, 2020 by David Silverberg

Updated 11:45 am with correction to Banyai endorsements and new addition, 5:00 pm with Donalds NRA endorsement.

We’re in the final days of the primary races in Southwest Florida. Early in-person voting begins tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 8. Mail-in voting has been underway since ballots were mailed out in mid-July.

The race is down to inches—and insults. With in-person campaigning and canvassing curtailed due to the pandemic, it’s a battle of clashing television ads and claims.

But one aspect of traditional campaigning that the pandemic hasn’t derailed is endorsements.

Endorsements are very important. When made, campaign communication directors should blare them to the heavens. Do endorsements move voters? Well, some do. But equally important, they have a cumulative impact. They can tell a lot about a candidate’s support and presumably an endorser brings a whole host of followers to the favored candidate’s camp.

In fact, so important are endorsements that FiveThirtyEight.com, the statistical journalism website, created a whole system for evaluating endorsements during the Democratic primary race beginning last year. Endorsements are significant, wrote FiveThirtyEight’s founder Nate Silver, because while they don’t mean “the candidate leading in endorsements will automatically win the nomination, or even necessarily be an odds-on favorite,” endorsements are nonetheless an indicator of a political party establishment’s support for a candidate and the ultimate nominee is usually the one favored by the party leadership.

As it goes for the presidential primary races, so it should go for Southwest Florida’s 19th Congressional District primary race, which with 12 candidates, is one of the most crowded and contentious in the country.

This article looks at all the endorsements for congressional primary candidates of both parties. The endorsements are in four categories: organizations; candidates (meaning candidates in other races); activists (people who are active and prominent in pursuing particular causes); and others (by which are meant current and former officials).

Unlike FiveThirtyEight, this does not give numerical points to different endorsements. It also doesn’t count ratings from organizations, which are usually given as grades from A to F. Endorsements counted here are specific to each candidate, although organizations often endorse numerous candidates, whether competing or not. It is also important to note that the local political parties will not endorse candidates until after the primary and the party conventions.

We checked all the candidates’ websites for lists of endorsements (some seemed to actually hide their endorsements or make them as difficult to access as possible), included their press releases and invited all candidates to list any endorsements that are pending or might not yet be posted.

Democrats

In the Democratic primary race, candidates David Holden and Cindy Banyai have both been endorsed by the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida.

Also on the environmental front, Holden has been endorsed by VoteWater Florida, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization designed to identify candidates supporting clean water initiatives.

Among other candidates, Holden, who ran in 2018, has been endorsed by his former rival, Todd Truax, who is currently running for Lee County Board of Commissioners, District 3; Javier Estevez, running for state representative in District 105; and Sara McFadden, who is running for state representative in District 106.

Among community activists, Holden has been endorsed by Crystal Johnson, president of the Community Forum Foundation, a community-building non-profit based in Fort Myers, and W. Earl Sparrow Jr., a community activist and organizer in Fort Myers.

Banyai has been endorsed by: Lee County Young Democrats, No Dem Left Behind, a movement of Democrats running in heavily Republican districts, Moms Demand Action, an organization calling for an end to gun violence, Women for the Win, a coalition of media professionals helping female candidates, 90 for 90, a voter registration organization, Peaceful Protests Lee County, a grassroots protest and gatherings group, and Boots of Recovery, a group that seeks to raise political awareness for recovery acceptance and solutions.

Candidates who have endorsed Banyai (and whom Banyai has endorsed in turn) are: Rachel Brown, candidate for state Senate District 27; Katherine Norman, candidate for state Senate District 23; state representative candidates Anselm Weber, District 76; Maureen Porras, District 105; Danika Fornear, District 79; Juan Gonzales, Lee County Commission District 5; and Connie Bennett-Martin, candidate for Fort Myers Ward 4.

Among community activists, Banyai has been endorsed by: Alexandra Anderes, a Fort Myers attorney; Isaiah Carter, a campaign worker; Johnnie Terrell, a Fort Myers social worker; and Eddie Thinger, a Florida Gulf Coast University graduate, who serves as her press secretary.

(Of note: The Paradise Progressive has endorsed in this race.)

Republicans

Of the Republican candidates, state Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77-Cape Coral) has by far the largest number of endorsements. Partially, this is a result of his prominence as Florida state House Majority Leader and his numerous connections. Even at the young age of 37 he’s been a prominent politician for a long time.

He’s also the candidate who has come closest to running a traditional campaign. If not for the pandemic, he’d be the guy with the ground game; volunteer door knockers, phone callers and envelope stuffers who have gotten people elected in the past.

Eagle started collecting endorsements immediately after his campaign announcement on Nov. 6, 2019 and he’s made a real effort to solicit them.

Of course, the big endorsement has to date eluded him. Despite slavish devotion and pictures of him with President Donald Trump from a single encounter appearing in all his campaign literature and media platforms, the Big Man has not reached down into this particular primary race to anoint Eagle his chosen one. That one endorsement would probably have settled this contest long ago.

Despite what surely must be a disappointment, Eagle has racked up 22 endorsements from individuals, many sitting Republican officials, more than any other candidate.

The most prominent of these is Florida’s senior US senator, Marco Rubio. He has also been endorsed by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-12-Fla.)

Of sitting state officials, Eagle has been endorsed by State Attorney Amira Fox; state Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson; and state Sen. Lizbeth Benaquisto, District 27. Sitting state representatives include: House Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls, Ray Rodrigues, and Spencer Roach.

Local mayors Kevin Ruane of Sanibel, JoeCovielo of Cape Coral, and Bill Ribble of Estero have endorsed him. Local officials include: Sanibel Councilwoman Holly Smith; Lee County Sheriff Carmen Marceno; Kathy Smith, public defender; Larry Hart, tax collector, and Linda Doggett, clerk of the court.

Nor has Eagle overlooked former officials, being endorsed by: Jeff Kottkamp, former lieutenant governor; former state representatives Matt Caldwell, Gary Aubuchon and Trudi Williams; former Cape Coral mayors Joe Mazurkiewicz and Eric Feichthaler; former Lee County sheriff Mike Scott; and former state attorney Steve Russell.

Eagle has also been endorsed by Doris Cortese, the “godmother” of Lee County Republican politics, who encouraged him to run the minute Rep. Francis Rooney announced his retirement in October 2019.

In terms of organizations, Eagle has been endorsed by Florida Police Benevolent Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Association of Home Builders and Personhood FL ProLife PAC.

The only other candidate who can count a US senator as an endorser is state Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80-Immokalee), who has been endorsed by US Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Donalds has also received endorsements from prominent national conservative organizations: Americans for Prosperity, Florida Family Action, the Republican Liberty Caucus, Empower America and Club for Growth. He is the only 19th District candidate to receive a full endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

The next most endorsed Republican is Dan Severson but his endorsements are from out of state. Reflecting his time in the Minnesota state house, he has been endorsed by former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, New Jersey-based Tea Party activist Michael Johns, and Texas-based Clint Lorance, a US Army officer who was court martialed and found guilty of second degree murder in Afghanistan and pardoned by Trump in 2019.

The other candidates in the field have received single endorsements or none at all: Casey Askar has been endorsed by the Everglades Trust; William Figlesthaler has been endorsed by former Florida state senator Garrett Richter of District 23; and Darren Aquino has been endorsed by the New York Young Republican Club.

Candidates Randy Henderson, Daniel Kowal and Christy McLaughlin do not list any endorsements on their websites or other platforms. Information on Independent Antonio Dumornay is not available.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg