The Sarasota Herald-Tribune is a Gannett daily whose editorials are mostly centrist and occasionally center-left, but it often prints right-wing op-eds. For example, it’s given several to the head of the Tampa Young Republicans to credit Gov. Ron DeSantis with giving Florida “the lowest number of Covid cases and deaths in the country,” which is, um, incorrect — a whopping lie. An even more memorable piece praised the Proud Boys as upstanding businessmen and veterans concerned about Sarasota schools, while neglecting to mention (a.) they’re white nationalist neo-fascists classified by Canada and New Zealand as a terrorist group and (b.) the author was married to one. The editor apologized but no heads rolled.
The H-T has published four or five of my liberal letters to the editor and rejected more. After the Dobbs decision I was too mad to stick to the 200-word letter limit, so I decided to buy a half-page ad which cost $1,525 (my wife is amazingly understanding about skipped vacations). I figured it’d say “Paid political advertisement, does not represent the opinion of this newspaper” and let a private citizen libel public figures as he liked. I was wrong; apparently Gannett can be sued for anything that appears in the paper.
During a full month of email negotiations between me, my sales rep, and the legal department, I was told that since the ad would appear under their brand I had to “clean up the wording a bit.” I couldn’t say DeSantis “doesn’t give a crap about” his constituents or call his surgeon general “an anti-vax quack and hack.” I was asked to show more decorum with “a cleaner letter without personal attacks and with well-stated opinions.”
I was called out for exaggerating with “Nationwide, Republican candidates from governor to secretary of state vow not to certify election results if Democrats win,” despite the rhetoric of Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake. That part, like Republicans in North Carolina and elsewhere claiming state legislatures can overturn election results, ended up on the cutting room floor.
So, alas, did 96 percent of House Republicans voting against the freedom to use contraceptives and DeSantis’s punishing companies that dare to speak against homophobia and mass shootings. And of course if I were writing today the ad would say “The Republican Party had no platform in 2020. Its platform today is one sentence: ‘Donald Trump is above the law.’”
After 500 words denouncing the GOP as an anti-American menace, I wanted to end with “P.S.: I’m a 63-year-old straight white male who doesn’t love paying taxes, so I should be a Republican, but that ship sailed long ago.” My rep said that was spiked due to “the fact that it stereotypes Republicans.”
After more last-minute rigmarole, the ad finally ran on Sunday, August 14, with the wording below. Since I’m not an organization or campaign committee I was able to include just my name and email without my address and phone, but I expect rocks through my windows anyway. Feel free to spread it around if you like.
Who deserves your vote? For that matter, who supports your right to vote?
Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t care much about the people, environment, or economy of Florida, but his every waking thought is “How can I throw red meat to Trump voters and turn the power of the state against Blacks, gays, and anyone who speaks up for them?” His response to the Covid pandemic was to fight vaccines and masks, hiring a surgeon general with no experience in public health who’s repeatedly spread obvious falsehoods about them. His press secretary’s sole schtick is accusing anyone who disagrees with DeSantis of being a pedophile and groomer.
DeSantis demands that college students and professors submit their political views to surveys and says he wants grade schoolers to be educated instead of indoctrinated — by whitewashing history and banning math books.
A few on the far left take political correctness to silly extremes, so one-fifth of complaints about “cancel culture” are valid. The other four-fifths are Republicans angry that there’s pushback for being a bigot. Kids in my day were taught what was called the Golden Rule: be kind and treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Today Republicans sneer and call that “woke.”
Dozens of GOP officials, judges, and Trump appointees have confirmed there was no fraud in the 2020 election. Last year, Republicans in 49 states introduced over 440 bills to reduce voting access, mostly targeting Black polling places and practices. The Republican National Committee has described a mob cracking a Capitol police officer’s skull as “legitimate political discourse.”
Republicans packed the Supreme Court, with five lifetime appointments by two presidents who lost the popular vote. Obama won the vote, but was denied an appointment eight months before an election while Trump was allowed one eight days before. In their Senate hearings, GOP nominees pledged to uphold precedent. They lied.
Republicans have nothing positive to offer, but define their lives by what they despise. If a Democrat warned of a speeding train, they’d lie on the track to own the libs. They talk endlessly about freedom while lobbying for travel bans and forced birth for 10-year-old rape victims.
They oppose democracy and stand for white minority rule under a Christian Taliban, based on legal precedents from antebellum America and 17th-century England. Guns and fetuses have rights. Women, Blacks, and gays do not.
We know what kind of country Republicans want. It isn’t America.
Paid for by Eric Grevstad
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.