In the week since the midterm elections, Donald Trump has done the following: fired his racist attorney general – not for being racist, of course, but for not shutting down the Russia investigation – and replaced him (possibly unconstitutionally) with a scam-artist lackey whose views on things like state nullification of federal laws and Marbury v. Madison are of an ilk usually reserved for Reddit trolls; stripped a CNN journalist of his White House press credential because he didn't like being challenged, then released an obviously doctored video from Infowars to support his decision, then threatened to revoke other reporters' press passes if they didn't show him sufficient respect; declared himself, in a petulant press conference, a moral leader and very popular guy, despite the fact that his party had just lost three dozen congressional seats; publicly demeaned three African American women journalists; publicly dabbled in election fraud conspiracy theories in an effort to shut down vote-counting in Arizona and Florida; skipped a World War I commemoration in Paris because it was drizzling; lit up like a schoolgirl crushing on the star football player when he ran into Vladimir Putin in Paris; told Californians it was their own fault that forest fires were consuming swaths of the state and killing dozens of people; and demanded that Florida election officials shut down an ongoing recount and "go with Election Night!" because his crony, Rick Scott, is ahead.
I'm writing this on Monday morning. Who knows what he's done since.
In the meantime, Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have tried to use the state's police resources to intimidate Broward County officials into not counting votes – in an interview with Fox News puff-pie Sean Hannity, Scott's oblong dome nodded along while Hannity suggested imprisoning the vote-counters – and Sen. Marco Rubio has gone from spineless quisling to straight-up Trump troll, spreading video from a Seth Rich truther.
As I write this, Sen. Bill Nelson is trailing Scott by a little less than 15,000 votes – which isn't a lot in the context of 8 million votes cast but is an almost impossible amount of ground to make up in a recount. And yet, Republicans are acting paranoid, like either they genuinely believe (without a scintilla of evidence, mind you) that Democratic bureaucrats are padding Nelson's tally or like they're really terrified that a recount might really find a hidden cache of Nelson votes. I'm not sure which is worse.
Meanwhile, in response to all of the fear-mongering and wild accusations, Broward County is seeing a repeat of the Brooks Brothers riots of 2000, in which Republican activists are belligerently protesting the vote-counting process in an effort not to ensure that every vote is counted, but that their guy wins by hook or by crook.
All of which leads me to ask: What's wrong with you people?
I'm not just talking about Broward County's election-office incompetence – there's a good chance Nelson will lose simply because nobody in Broward has learned how to design a ballot in the last 18 years, since the last time a poorly designed South Florida ballot gave an undeserved election to a malignant ignoramus – or even the Banana Republic bullshit that Scott and his fellow Republicans have become increasingly brazen about pulling.
I'm talking about the fact that, even after two whole terms marked by Rick Scott's proto-Trumpian cruelty toward the poor; after Rick Scott decimated the state's environmental rules and regulatory agencies, leading to algae blooms that killed fish and endangered the tourism industry; after Scott's bestie Donald Trump completely screwed over a hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico; after years of a corrupt, mismanaged administration headed by a man whose company defrauded Medicare – after all of that, nearly 4.1 million of you still voted for this tapeworm.
Even worse, if such a thing is possible: Nearly as many of you voted for the abjectly racist Trump bootlicker Ron DeSantis, who will become the state's next governor because lots of folks couldn't bring themselves to pull the lever for a black guy.
These elections should never have been close enough for inept South Florida bureaucrats to screw up. Yes, Florida is a quintessential purple state. Yes, Scott has now (apparently) won all three of his elections by 1.2 points or less – and Trump won here two years ago by about the same margin. Yes, statewide elections here are always tight enough that the election weirdness that probably takes place everywhere regularly comes under an embarrassing microscope.
I know all of that. I know that Florida elections are invariably expensive and razor-close. I also know that Bill Nelson should have hung up his astronaut suit years ago and allowed some fresh (and more progressive, and more charismatic) blood to take his place, and that Gillum's campaign was dogged by an FBI investigation.
But seriously: Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis? These assholes – along with that asshole Lil' Marco – are going to be the political faces our state puts forward, the ones stumping for Donald Trump for the next two years? I ask again: What's wrong with you people?
That's not to say there weren't bright spots last week. The Democrats' possibly 40-seat gain in the House can only be read as a repudiation of Trump, even though the economy is growing and unemployment is at a 50-year low. The same can be said for the fact that Republicans gained only two Senate seats, despite having a very friendly playing field – Arizona (!) and Texas (!!) can now be considered swing states – and lost a bunch of governorships and legislative seats. Young people and educated suburban woman fled the GOP, turning it more and more into a "racially anxious" Southern rump party. And now, a Democratic House will finally scrutinize the malignancy that is the Trump administration – impeachment seems unlikely, removal more so, but at least we'll have a coequal branch of government that isn't willing to look the other way at ineptitude, hate-soaked bombast and wanton corruption.
Those are good things. Trump's petulant, narcissistic, racist behavior in the week following the election has only put an exclamation point on what kind of politician, and what kind of man, he really is. But we knew all of that before the election: Across the country, people looked at Trump's version of nationalist politics and soundly rejected it, and his loyalists paid the price, as they should.
I'm less than confident it'll happen again in 2020. Most presidents get re-elected, and Democrats are as good as it gets at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But if Florida finally gets its shit together – if its newcomers and millennials and the 1.4 million former felons who are now eligible to vote realize the stakes and how stupid it is to stay home or throw away a vote on whatever third-party charlatan makes them feel pure (looking at you, 47,000 people who voted for the Reform Party dude in the governor's race) – maybe we can keep our republic a little longer.