What The Heck Is A Fliberal? There Are Way More Of Us Than People Realize
All of my long-distance friends feel sorry for me because of where I live. Their sympathy ranges from a casual “No seasons — bummer” to “EW, VOMIT, I would rather DIE than live in the cesspool of Trump-humping depravity that is Florida.”
“Florida Man” has become an internationally recognized meme. The title conjures up images of a half-drunk, Confederate Flag-waving shirtless man yelling about keeping America great while riding an alligator in the pesticide-polluted drainage canal behind the local Walmart.
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis signed anti-trans legislation on the first day of Pride Month this year. Imagine being in the same political party as this pus-spurting gargoyle. Eww, David.
More recently, Florida introduced a copycat abortion bill similar to the one passed in Texas.
Florida is known for Mickey Mouse, Kennedy Space Center, and its many beautiful beaches. Tourists love to visit! But Florida is also known for its underfunded schools and poorly paid teachers. The average Florida teacher salary for the 2019-2020 school year was $49,102 — the third lowest in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Florida ranks 42nd in school spending and 43rd in funding.
My friend with brain cancer and his wife, who suffers from several autoimmune disorders, feel disposable here. They see the social media comments from their neighbors in response to a middle-aged person’s death. “Yeah, but did they have an underlying condition?” They see the advice for how to handle their vulnerability. “Just stay home then!” As if they don’t have to leave the house for cancer treatments.
My friend with a transgender child had to leave the state. They were experiencing extreme bullying at school and the administration and local law enforcement did nothing to protect them.
It does feel like Florida is positively crawling with selfish, hateful racists and bigots.
And yet. As loud as these idiots are, the number of progressives in Florida would probably shock you. I’m a member of various progressive organizations and Facebook groups.
We Are Fliberals, And We Are Many
The term “Fliberal” was coined by TikTok creator @fl.edition in October of 2020, and since then, both the community and the movement have grown. And there are probably way more of us than you realize.
Elections are often really tight here in Florida — though it definitely leans conservative, Florida is still considered a swing state. Of the last seven presidential elections, 4 swung Republican and 3 swung Democrat. (Thanks, Obama.)
Our house voting history leans ever bluer. Our political party identification is split almost evenly between democrats and republicans. Sadly, though, Florida has had a Republican governor since 1998.
Still. I think when people outside of Florida think of Florida, they assume it’s filled with nothing but bigoted trash.
Based on what I’ve witnessed in the private groups I’m in and in the politics I see play out in real-time, here’s why I think it’s hard to see how many Fliberals there really are.
Conservatives Are Often Loud And Aggressive
Many of the conservatives here are extra loud, extra scary, and not at all shy to physically threaten people. Take the most recent school board meeting where the five-member school board was scheduled to vote on whether or not to keep the mask mandate they passed last month.
One man, Nicholas Carrington, showed up with an American flag painted on his beard and was arrested for disorderly conduct. According to his arrest record, he also has a history of domestic violence. He did a Facebook live prior to the meeting, calling for a “fight.” The woman, Janice Crisp, regularly shows up to these school board meetings though according to multiple sources she has no children in the school system.
Because these people are so loud, obnoxious, and impossible to miss, it seems like they far outnumber progressives. And yet, the school board passed a mask mandate not once, but twice, because of an outpouring of support for the mandate from parents, educators, and experts. I and many other “Fliberals” were not at the school board meeting acting a fool and getting arrested. But we did email every school board member to express our support of the mandate.
The other reason I think Florida appears extra conservative is because of how dirty the politics are here. The population is split roughly down the middle while our politicians lean more conservative. It’s hard to convince liberals to run for office because anyone who puts themself in that position is guaranteeing they will be publicly smeared, ridiculed, and perhaps even physically attacked by gun toting Trump-humping poster children for the Dunning-Kruger effect. Our most openly liberal school board member has had various threats against her and right-wing protestors showing up at her home shouting obscenities despite the fact that she has a preschool-aged child.
These far right blowhards are really, really loud. And extra volatile. And quick to let you know they’re armed. And they have political stickers on their cars and Trump flags in their yards. It’s not just that they want you to know their political leanings — it’s that they want you to know they possess the propensity for violence and the weapons with which to carry out that violence.
Nevertheless, there are lots of Fliberals — probably a lot more than most people realize. We are quietly working behind the scenes here in Florida. We are good to each other, helping one another out in aid groups even as we work to educate newcomers about our objectives and strategize politically. More and more frustrated former conservatives join our ranks every day as they see the people with whom they used to identify behaving in more and more unacceptable ways. And we love to see it.
*This article was updated Dec. 30, 2021 to include attribution for the term “Fliberal.”
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