It seems we have finally gained a little respect as a state in the realm of national politics. After a rather smooth election in November, the talking heads of political punditry are anxiously awaiting the word from our venerable Senator Bob Graham on his possible candidacy for president.
Florida is no longer the country bumpkin of national politics. Late-night proprietors of dimwitted yet entertaining jokes can no longer shape monologues or “Top Ten Lists” out of our fair state.
As much as people would hate to admit it, Florida, in the coming decades, is going to be the most important state in the union.
The evidence is apparent. The Democratic Party named Jeb Bush their No. 1 enemy for the mid-term elections. Senator Joe Lieberman, already a candidate for president, has visited southern Florida no less than a dozen times since 2000. In 2004, it’s not a secret that presidential candidates will converge on Florida like buzzards on a dying antelope.
Why? Because Florida is where the action is (pardon the terrible cliche). The state is representative of the country as a whole. Northern Florida is conservative, central Florida is moderate and southern Florida is rather liberal.
Every week, nearly a thousand new people remove themselves from such inhospitable places as Illinois, New York and especially New Jersey and choose to live in our state.
Florida is worth 25 electoral votes, more than any other state but New York, Texas and California. California has consistently voted Democratic in national elections, while Texas residents still have not seen the light and consistently vote Republican. Florida is a swing state, a jewel that will inevitably have to be in the corner of the candidate who wishes to be president.
The issues in Florida today will be the issues of the country in the near future. Education, one of the most debated issues in the state today, is beginning to emerge in national politics more frequently. Health care is an immense and yet still unsolved issue in Florida.
Let’s face it, Florida is where Americans come to die. Until these people do kick it, they will demand a tangible health care structure to keep them happy and alive. America is getting older, and this issue will begin to haunt the halls of Congress more and more as the years pass.
As goes Florida, so goes our nation. It comes as no surprise that the country is holding it’s breath, some praying for and some praying against the idea of our senior senator running for the highest office in the land. If he were to enter the race, he would have a very good chance of winning. Various polls have put Graham in the top four candidates in the Democratic primaries.
Senator Graham’s possible candidacy means more than just the possibility of that particular man sitting in that nice comfy chair in the Oval Office. The fact that he is considering running, and if he runs he would probably do well, shows the growing importance of Florida in national politics. It is a testament to the fact that, in the coming decades, no one will ever win the White House without earning the blessings of the Sunshine State.
Joe Roma is a junior majoring in political science.