In the opening hours of the 2018 Florida Governor’s Race, Democrat nominee Andrew Gillum wasted a golden opportunity to appeal to millions of moderate voters across the state of Florida as a reasonable, fair-minded leader capable of rising above petty racial rhetoric.
Few voters will support a candidate prone to dropping the race card at the slightest provocation, and fewer still are fooled by Gillum’s faux “high road” ploy, when, after claiming it, in the very next breath he accuses his opponent, Ron DeSantis, of not sounding a racist “dog whistle,” but a full racist “bullhorn.”
Instead, he predictably followed the tried-and-failed national Democrat playbook, in which he and his fellow liberals feign outrage and casually lob charges of racism at Republican opponents.
Voters aren’t buying it. Intentional or not, DeSantis’s choice of words, “monkey this up,” is not a coded signal designed to awaken hoardes of racist zombies and send them marching to the polls to vote against Gillum.
That’s because racists are already going to vote against Gillum no matter what. They don’t need DeSantis to tell them Andrew Gillum is not their preferred race.
So, if DeSantis did choose the phrase deliberately and premeditatively, then yes, it was a “dog whistle.” But not a racist dog whistle, but rather one intended for hypersensitive liberal ears. And in using it, DeSantis successfully baited the Florida Democratic Party, the national Democrats and their attack dogs at Media Matters, and Andrew Gillum himself, into an expertly-laid trap.
The vast majority of white voters don’t appreciate having to tiptoe through a vernacular minefield, where the slightest misstep – a single, errant phrase – results in a career-ending explosion of racism allegations.
Yet here is Andrew Gillum taking the bait, sending the message to voters that he won’t hesitate to play the race card, during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo:
“Well, I’ll try to be articulate, Chris, and simply say that kind of vitriol…and he’s apparently given up the whistle, and they’ve gone to the bullhorn with these kinds of tactics, but they’re not going to work.”
Whether laid intentionally by DeSantis, or by circumstance, Gillum has ensnared himself in a trap, one that exposes him as the typical, victim-mentality liberal he is.
The correct play couldn’t be more obvious: dismiss the allegations of racism leveled by his fellow liberal Democrats. In so doing, his first introduction to millions of voters would have been as a reasonable candidate who isn’t hypersensitive or overly eager to play the race card. Plenty of surrogates could still carry that dirty water for him, delivering it to progressives thirsty for racial justice.
But no. Gillum doubled down, compounding his error by taking his “victim” message to Fox News, which is overwhelmingly watched by white Republican voters and who are decidedly unsympathetic:
Fox viewers are now swarming to Facebook, blasting his appearance and telling all who will listen that Andrew Gillum is just another typical liberal Democrat. Here’s just a tiny sample:
Republican voters are energized against this sort of rhetoric, and are more than willing to dismiss DeSantis’s choice of words as an innocent gaffe, while penalizing Gillum for trying to make it more than it is.
Independent voters want to know what Gillum is going to do for Florida in the next four years, but instead, he’s telling everyone that his first instinct is to cry foul and play the race card at every opportunity.
That’s not a winning message.
Then again, neither are his plans to raise taxes on business owners, his failures during Hurricane Hermine, his ethical lapses as Tallahassee mayor, or his socialist tendencies.
Maybe the race card is the best play Gillum’s got.