As voters, we get exactly what we deserve.
Again and again, people, myself included, have pointed out that in spite of the ‘R’ that appears next to the names of most of our leaders in Jacksonville, more of the city’s residents are Democrats than Republicans. Quite a lot more, actually.
Even though 5,000 voters in Duval County switched party registration in order to vote in the Republican Primary — many inspired by a desire to vote out Public Defender Matt Shirk, State Attorney Angela Corey, or perhaps both — as of Aug. 15, there are still 15,504 more Dems in Duval County according to Supervisor of Elections’ records. If those roughly 5,000 who changed registration are ideologically Democratic, that makes for a total of 20 grand more likeminded peeps voting donkey over elephant, which is obviously statistically significant.
Then why are we so damn conservative? Simple: Because most people don’t vote.
When Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, dared to serve as Master of Ceremonies (apparently someone had already called dibs on lion-tamer) for the tangerine-tinted enfant terrible at his Aug. 3 tour de pain-ful to watch, people were pissed. Many questioned whether the mayor was firing on all cylinders, and if perhaps he had just incinerated the pension tax feather he so desperately wants to stick in that pretty blond cap.
Certainly a few will not vote for the tax on the basis of Curry’s stumping for Trump. But it’s not likely to make much of a difference, certainly not enough to kill the referendum.
And here’s why: In the August 2008 and August 2012 primaries, the last two presidential election years (when people are more engaged in politics), merely 20 percent of registered voters hauled our lazy asses to the voting booth or bothered to fill in an absentee ballot and mail it in.
In both instances, far more who did muster the effort to vote were Republicans. In fact, 12,124 more Republicans voted in the 2012 primary. The party’s voter turnout was a relatively impressive 29 percent.
Only 20 percent of Democrats voted in that primary.
In the 2008 primary, Dems also only managed to get a measly 21 percent voter turnout, while Reps put up 26 percent. And that was the year that Dems were all fired up for change, when the country was so fed up with George W. Bush that a sitting president was an unwelcome sight on the campaign trail — though it’s hard to imagine anything that could have made the slow motion McCain-Palin trainwreck any worse.
If you travel in certain circles around town, you’ll hear a common refrain. People love to pityingly lament the conservatism of city leadership and the antiquated politics that keep us firmly on the buckle of the Bible Belt and routinely embarrass us when, say, the Clerk of Courts directs his staff to stop performing courthouse marriages because — ewww — same-sex marriage is icky.
Statistically speaking, a majority of those people are to blame for Jacksonville’s mid-20th-century political values. Because every time they have an opportunity to do something about it, such as in 2015 when most seats on the City Council, as well as the offices of mayor and sheriff, were at play, a majority of voters stayed home and watched the Kardashians inject themselves with whale blubber or something.
It’s hard to sympathize with people who are too apathetic to help themselves, then whine because they’re not getting what they want.
When Lenny Curry gives the crowd a one-two thumbs-up from the podium at a Trump rally, he’s banking on the apathy of the majority. He gives the crowd a good look at those Chiclet teeth, knowing that some heat is coming his way, that a few will point out that instead of greeting the President of the United States on Feb. 26, he went fishing, but that more will give the mayor those proverbial fist-bumps that are so dear to his heart. Because, news flash, y’all: Donald Trump won the Republican Primary in Duval County.
Not only did Trump win, he crushed Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ted “It’s Felito not Fellatio” Cruz.
See, Jacksonville’s favorite accountant doesn’t blindly walk that very looonnnnggg catwalk to get some golf claps for his pension tax at Veterans Memorial Arena; he takes a calculated risk based on the data that the people who will actually show up and vote on Aug. 30 are sitting in the crowd.
And he’s probably right.