As the rubble from the 2020 election settles and those providing commentary do what they do, I am reminded of a phrase ascribed to French sociologist and philosopher Comte some 200 years ago: Demography is destiny.
We’ve heard it lots over the course of the last several election cycles here in the United States – that fundamental shifts in our demographics have resulted in a country that is decidedly center-left in governing philosophy. That massive swarths of voters identifying themselves and voting according to their cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds are pushing the country in a direction that demands more top-down strategies from D.C. That, to be successful on a national level, Republicans should abandon their historical aversion to decentralized rule and the role of free markets and embrace command and control tactics and more paternalistic approaches to regulation. We should, instead, look to Washington D.C. and our benevolent leaders to save us from our own dark forces.
Well, color me unconvinced. In fact, call me outright contrarian. What I see in my home state of Florida is quite a different tale. I see a state that voted for Barack Obama, not once but twice, that then sent its vote to Donald Trump in 2016 and again in 2020 by more than 400,000 votes – one of the largest margins in Florida’s recent history.
I see the largely Democrat area of Miami-Dade County, which went for Hillary Clinton by 30 points in 2016, go to Joe Biden/Kamala Harris by just seven points. I see two congressional seats in South Florida flip from Democrat to Republican, and a state legislature that solidified its decades old conservative majority by adding republicans in the House and the Senate.
In 2016, the traditional media made much of the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump by roughly 77,000 votes in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Those three states would have secured her the electoral victory. In 2020, the same could be said – a shift of less than 50,000 votes in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin would have put Trump in the reelected category.
However, we don’t hear that figure – we just hear about a “landslide” Biden electoral and popular vote victory that affirms the narrative of a progressive media.
I take a deep dive in the numbers from November 3 and it offers me more confidence that the best path forward for principled conservatives is not one of acquiescence or surrender to perpetual growth in the footprint of government on our lives. No, our best path forward is to advance, and advance boldly.
I often speak of the unique nature of my home state. With more than 21 million residents, growing by roughly 1,000 people every day, Florida has become a microcosm of the entire nation. Typically considered a swing state, it has generally reflected the overall mood and prevailing sentiments of the country. And while from 1996 to 2016 it has sided with the winner of the presidential race, it is far from monolithic.
Urban centers like Miami and Orlando are a stone’s throw from rural areas like Immokalee and Alachua. Deeply conservative areas in the panhandle counter deeply progressive areas in the Southeast part of the state. A state of immigrants comprising over 20% of the state’s population, it is a melting pot of beautiful culture – 5 million members of the Hispanic community from all corners of the hemisphere (and growing).
And, if the voting tallies say anything, they convey a very vivid picture of an electorate desperate for an alternative to the idea that every problem can be solved by a federal bureaucracy and more of our tax dollars sent to Washington.
Instead, It’s Time to Lean In.
It’s time to lean into the principle that bureaucrats and regulations over markets, private property rights, and the rule of law will somehow create better opportunities for those marginalized by the oppressive governments they left behind. Shun the belief that even more federal control in our everyday decision-making – whether it be healthcare or the cars we drive or how we run our businesses – can somehow create a better or more prosperous society.
It’s time to lean into the truth that market innovations in pharmaceuticals, energy, and technology will, on their worst day, run circles around any federal bureau, 25-point plan, blue ribbon panel or inter-government accord. Shun the idea that a mandate that cars will no longer use gasoline in 10 years is anything close to reality.
It’s time to lean into the ideas that built our nation into the greatest economic engine in the history of mankind – the ideas that government cannot solve our problems, that more often than not government is the problem, and that when we unleash free enterprise the results are opportunity for all. Shun the idea that if only D.C. had a few more trillion of our dollars they could regulate, legislate and will our challenges away.
I look at the results of the 2020 election with a renewed sense of hope and optimism that while enough voters may have rejected the person sitting in the oval office to cost him reelection, the principles of conservative governance are alive, well and thriving. Florida, one of the fastest-growing and most diverse states in the country, is living proof. It’s my sincere hope that those who run for elected office in the years to come will embrace these principles and show the world that we have only just begun.