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Civics 101: We need a refresher course on how government works


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The television ads and personal attacks for the 2024 Presidential election have already started, and we’re still 18 months away from the election. Sadly, it’s only going to get worse.

Every day there is a new poll that reportedly shows the popularity of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Other polls pit Trump against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, although DeSantis hasn’t officially filed for candidacy.

Here’s the fallacy of these national polls: we don’t elect presidents nationally. The outcomes of 50 separate state and District Columbia elections determine who will live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. People who were born in U.S. Territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa are considered U.S. Nationals and not citizens, so they can’t vote in Presidential, Senate or House of Representative elections. Whether that’s right or wrong is a conversation for another day.

So when you hear about a national poll, turn the channel. That’s not how we elect our Presidents. Knowing somebody has a five-point lead nationally doesn’t mean anything, although knowing the current President’s national approval rating is at or less than 42% is significant because it sets the tone.

But once the polls open, the only thing that matters is the checkmarks on the ballots.

The polls don’t explain how it was conducted. The results also would be significantly skewed if you question 1,000 people, and 800 were from California. The same for the other side if most of the people surveyed were from South Carolina or Tennessee.

We’ve lost a grasp of how things work. DeSantis famously said half of U.S. adults couldn’t name the three branches of government while he was at Ridgeview High recently. He also said 10% of college graduates believe Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court.

Our society has too many clueless dullards who believe everything they see on television or read in the newspaper. If what some media is peddling isn’t factual, then your thought process is compromised.

DeSantis started the 50-hour Civics Seal of Excellence “boot camp” to provide educators with the tools that explain how our government works. Teachers who complete the course earn a $3,000 bonus. More importantly, they can channel that knowledge to their students.

Maybe we all need a refresher course, especially before the next election cycle.

Trump and Biden have both entered the race. If they become the nominees, the finger-pointing and name-calling will be brutally hateful. And our country will be even more divided. One will continue his claim the last election was rigged; the other will continue to tell the country the economy is good and our borders are “closed” and “secure.”

We deserve better than that.

In a series of elections last Tuesday, some publications suggested it was an early showdown between Trump and DeSantis for the Republican nomination. They said more Trump-backed candidates beat DeSantis-backed candidates. One thing not mentioned was what if the winning candidates were better.

I believe DeSantis would be a better option as President – if and when he decides to run. But in reality, I don’t want him to run. He’s more important to me as my governor. I know it pains some of you to read this, but there’s a reason why people are leaving California, New York and Illinois for the Sunshine State.

Our population has grown here in Clay County in 10 of the past 11 years. Just five years ago, our population was 212,800. Now it’s 226,500. With nearly 10,000 building permits already approved – mainly in the southern end of the county – Clay continues to be a popular spot for families to set their roots.

Just two years ago, more than 101,000 people moved away from California, while 75,000 bailed from New York and 29,000 escaped Chicago. And according to the U.S. Census, Florida has become the fastest-growing state. There are important reasons for that, and it starts in Tallahassee.

Because of the state’s growth, Florida gained an additional electoral college vote for the Presidential election. Basic civics reminds us that’s how we really elect our President, not by a national poll.