Our reputation in Florida, beckoning back to the now infamous days of the Bush vs. Gore election of 2000, in the glaring light of day, is being re-enforced in stunning fashion. Yes, voter suppression in the sunshine state is alive and well under the tutelage of Gov. Rick Scott and metastasizing at a break-neck pace across the country, thanks, in large part, to a coalition of Republican and conservative governors.
It seems that the very idea of freedom that our country's foundation was built upon is under a violent and very public assault. The kind of attack that looks and feels much more like erosion of rights than the swift thievery that one might expect from a particular segment of the power base. Only now there is a great equalizer in place that not even Katherine Harris under remote control of the Republican party could have foreseen in today's times: social media. Our citizenry pays attention to the world around them in ways not imagined 10 years ago, taking place primarily through a giant town hall of constituents better known as the digital portal of Twitter.
Similar to the methodology that enabled the overthrow of oppressive governments in the Middle East, i.e Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and now Syria, the public no longer consumes its news and information through the prism of state controlled media or through the lens claiming "Fair and Balanced" but are talking among themselves, as a community, and deciding what issues are among the top concerns and require urgent attention.
The people of Florida are divided up into so many different parts it could actually be viewed as several different states in one. The Panhandle evoking much more of a "Georgia on my mind feeling," than one might think of in comparison to the sunny post cards and guayaberas of Miami. Or there is the Gulf-Coast with its easy Louisiana-Alabama hybrid vibe, all of which experience their own brand of persnickety and economies as unique to the population as the place itself. But what all of these communities do have in common is the ability to communicate across channels and learn what is happening statewide.
Gov. Rick Scott claims that the voter system is deeply flawed and that voter fraud has "run a muck" and yet he is hard-pressed to prove legitimate endemic issues of voter fraud in this state. In fact, former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist called Scott and the current Republican guard's tactics of voter suppression "shameless." Scott's answer to securing and policing the voting system in the state of Florida is the equivalent of enforcing a poll tax, purging, by some estimates, as many as 180,000 otherwise valid voters from the polls.
What is even more incredibly alarming in all of this is the very specific demographic of black and Hispanic voter this seems to impact and disenfranchise, who traditionally vote Democrat by overwhelming numbers. What Scott is not prepared for however, is voting day. This is not the 1960s when television was in black and white and the exposure of injustices levied against the American people was only a fraction as broad in reach as it is today. The people will stand up and fight back, armed with their mobile device in hand, documenting voter suppression at every poll in the state, tweeting and alerting the Justice Department of blatant and intolerable obstruction of the basic rights of every law abiding citizen in this country, the right to vote and have their voices heard.
What Rick Scott and some of the other Republican governors are counting on is that we still live in an era as antiquated as the views that they as group wish to enforce upon its people. It is not good enough for us to wait until voting day. Everyone from Miami to Tampa should stand up and say something now on Twitter and create a hashtag (perhaps #VoterFreedomFL) hopefully in an effort to bring awareness to specific cases of potential voter suppression before it takes root.
There is also a new digital weapon against voter suppression, the "Cost Of Freedom" app. We should all let our voices be heard and stand shoulder to shoulder not only with our fellow Floridians, but thanks to social applications and platforms, we can stand in solidarity with Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Egypt, Afghanistan and any other country or state in the world whose basic rights and freedoms as human beings are in question at the hands of their own elected officials.
Follow Gerard Bush on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GerardBush