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Election Night at Ground Zero, Parkland

November 7, 2018 - 9:45am

As we have been told for months now, this is the most important election of our lifetime which, by my measurement, makes for the 10th consecutive time since the new millennium that this has been the case. As the social matrix of the country has become deeply emotional about the political landscape, it's possible I was in a ground-zero location for the election.

While many across the country have irrationally invested themselves in what goes on in Washington and Tallahassee, for Parkland residents the interest in, and the stakes invested, are vastly more personal. More than “I don’t like,” or “He doesn’t represent me,” the interest in election results carry an undertow. I witnessed firsthand the deep-seated interest a community has in voting tallies. 

When following the returns at an organized event literally in the shadow of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you don't see the irrational overreactions from the general populace. Shirts, wristbands and wide-eyed shared expressions tell you that this is not generic electioneering -- this is a community with a vested interest in what transpired after submitting your ballot. From the Senate race all the way down to commissioner seats, this is a town that feels the gravity of the returns.

It is not a common sight to have high schoolers and parents intermixed during an election watch atmosphere, but since Feb. 14 common is not such a disposable term here. The staff has MSD Strong shirts, and there are a number of local activist groups represented. "March For Our Lives" shirts abound. "Change The Ref" and "Orange Ribbons For Jaime" were also present. Most everyone here has his or her chosen group, but everyone was on the same side.

David Hogg and Emma Gonzales -- two of the Feb. 14 MSDHS survivors -- were on site, but the crowd reaction to them was one not of celebrity, but of family. The collection of electronic media was the only indicator they were apart in any way from the gathered crowd. Hugs and muted conversations were the norm. But it was clear the gathering had a shared expectation. As early returns came in favoring the various Democratic names -- Sen. Bill Nelson, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, and various House candidates -- the house was loud with hopeful excitement.

But this is Florida. The dichotomy of centralized blue urban areas against a wide swath of red counties always makes us a challenge for pollsters and prognosticators. The one hour lag of panhandle precincts gave the expected red rush, and sure enough DeSantis began pulling ahead. Scott as well asserted himself, in the meager means that term applies to Florida election results. That elation, which this community could use so ardently, was essentially muted. 

The Democrats winning control of the U.S. House was but a moral victory. The projected Blue Wave did not materialize, and the forecast result of gridlock in D.C. would not deliver the political catharsis hoped for. Things quieted down, the throng gradually eroded, and acceptance came over the collected citizens. The night was not victorious, but in the end it was manageable. Things closed out with a variety of the remaining members addressing the crowd -- a few parents, but mostly students who endured that February nightmare. Tears, laughter, applause, and hugs were to in abundance. 

In the end the night was not disastrous for those gathered. The election results were unfavorable for most here, but collectively they would be fine. Maybe the candidates they backed did not win, but tonight was not a loss. Nothing like the losses felt nine months ago.

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist


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If little Davey Hogg would have targeted the responsible local officials (I.E. Broward Sheriff, Broward school board) instead of Republicans in general he may have achieved some type of positive change. Instead, he will be remembered for politicizing a tragedy for his 15 minutes of fame. Very sad but very typical of leftist Dems.

It's the farmers, rednecks, hillbillies, cowboys and holy rollers versus the urbanites and suburbanites ... and there's currently a few more of the former than the latter in Florida. As the state's demographics change, so will the balance of power. The Parkland generation of "kids" will ultimately have their day!

Another far leftie who just can't resist personally denigrating anyone who disagrees. But you stay silent on the sheriff, the superintendent, the cowardly deputy, the FBI who admitted blame, all of whom are culpable and won't be held accountable because it's Broward, after all. And the victims and their families still don't have justice. But you have such satisfaction in thinking you're superior. Vote Blue? You counted on riding your wave too soon. Don't bet on the balance of power changing that much. People don't like to be insulted by down-your-nose "superiors."

is Trump being held "culpable" ... even for just his habitual lying and his serial cheating? Was Kavanaugh held "culpable" for his probable sexual abuse and his definitive anti-Constitutional biases? Is Trump being held "culpable" for inciting his cult members to violence? Was Trump's Mini-Me held 'culpable" for his apparent expressions of racism? There should definitely be a court of inquiry into possible school board and law enforcement negligence in the MSDHS matter ... and if negligence is proven ... those proven negligent should be fired and further penalized accordingly in whatever other ways are prescribed by law. I didn't count on any "wave" ... and the "red tide" has barely eked out its recent "victory". The balance of power in Florida will definitely change as the progressives here come to outnumber the regressives. And, yes, I DEFINITELY do believe that progress is f-a-r "superior" to regression. If regressives are "insulted" by that ... too bad! The Trumpnut-In-Chief and his Florida Mini-Me seem to "insult" their opposition with impunity ... so ... why can't others do it???

Kids still "wet behind the ears", supported understandably by their parents, and 'driven' by "all or nothing" fuzzy "educational tactics" devised by "millennial so-called educators", with the "blessing" of weak school administrators, helped to "create" the perfect "disruption of an entire school year and ALL those involved with it"..... "Suck it up" kids; "activist demonstration" is a poor replacement for mourning, and the substituting of legitimate education. "Life goes on"..., concentrate on fully developing YOURS !

Pee Wee is a 'survivor"? Like the old saying goes...."Ya had to be there".

Thank you Brad. It's important to know that rational accepting behavior emerged from the lost efforts in Parkland.

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