The arguments to change Broward County’s name to Lauderdale County sound awfully familiar. They’re virtually the same as those put forth in 1997 when Miami-Dade County — then known as plain old Dade County — voted to change its name. It’ll boost the county’s economy. Make more sense geographically. Signal a new and better era.
But there are important distinctions that should doom this name change idea from the get-go.
A name change seems like a luxury suited to better times. We’re struggling with a recession hangover, skyrocketing hurricane insurance, rising seas, government corruption and escalating health insurance costs. We’ve got giant pythons gobbling up native creatures of the Everglades and schools crumbling. Our leaders have — or should have — their hands full. Changing the name from Broward to Lauderdale won’t solve any problems. It’s a distraction.
In Florida, we are all too quick to bulldoze our history. We may be youthful compared with Boston or New York but our path to this moment — from mosquito-infested swamplands to the international destination we are today — is worth preserving.
In Miami-Dade, at least, voters made sure to keep the “Dade” part of the original name. In Broward, the proposal is to simply wipe away old Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward’s name — whose checkered claim to fame includes gun running to Cuba and pledging to drain the Everglades — and replace it with Maj. William Lauderdale, commander of the original Fort Lauderdale.
History matters. The texture of a place, its landscape and people, is rooted in its past. That’s not something to toss away on a political whim, as if it had no meaning. Keep the Broward name.