(Economist) What Florida can teach America

What can Florida reveal about America? In many ways, it is a land apart from the rest of the country. Yet a state as diverse as Florida is also a mini-America, with its political divisions condensed into single blocks. The rise of minor parties and voters with no-party affiliation should be a reckoning for the two main national parties. Immigrants and transplants want a positive message about the future, not a dire one, which should be a wake-up call to Democrats to refine their campaigning to signal optimism and opportunity. The lurch to the right of Mr DeSantis and other Republicans, who prioritise social issues such as abortion over practical economic concerns of ordinary Floridians, is a political calculation that may yet backfire.

Nowhere are the intergenerational divisions that scar America clearer than in Florida. The elderly who retire there feel little connection to the state or much desire to invest in its future. Meanwhile, the young require more than “freedom” (Florida’s favourite rhetorical export) to thrive. With such austere investment in citizens and good government, there is a vast gulf between older migrants who import their fortunes and savings into Florida and those who want to build lives there, but face lower wages.

Florida is a test-bed for the limits of libertarian policies. The early 2020s may be remembered as America’s “Florida years”, with Mr DeSantis’s embrace of policies, such as anti-lockdown provisions, that put his state on the national stage. But now that Florida feels the pain of soaring house prices and displacement of the labour force by new arrivals, some voters’ faith that the free market alone is enough to fix things has been shaken.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ecology, Economy, State Government