Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago: An election season to forget

Nothing shows off the warts of a community like an election.

Here are some stomach-churning ones — not in any particular order of disgust, since they all emanate their own particular stench:

▪ Perfected, tit-for-tat Hialeah-style politics featuring big-dollar campaign contributions have invaded the once peaceful village of Miami Lakes via a small-time council race. You know the kind: I win local office. I make tons of money in real estate.

▪ For years now, I’ve heard from Republicans, Cubans and otherwise, appalled at the party’s turn to the extreme right. They call the tea partiers “a fringe” and consider themselves moderates. But here we are, election time, when it matters – and I’ve seen every Republican I know standing with tea party Gov. Rick Scott, supporting and applauding beyond mere courtesy.

“I changed my affiliation from Independent to Republican so I can vote out the tea party,” a former colleague recently told me, laughing heartily at his cleverness.

Looks like he failed: Survey the field of ultra-right candidates trying at the last-minute to appear more moderate — and winning “liberal” endorsements no matter the damage the incumbents have done to South Florida because memory in this town runs shorter than a dog’s leash.

▪ On the Democratic side there’s not a lot to be proud of either. The party’s signature in Florida: When opportunity looks good, add a faux pas so big you’d think your strategists are working for the Republicans. The latest is the introduction, via a last-minute campaign ad by incumbent Democrat Joe Garcia, of prominent Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas into the race for a South Florida seat in Congress.

Garcia — whose support for immigration reform, Medicaid extension and the environment has been unwavering — could have defeated Republican Carlos Curbelo in a district that encompasses Cuba-friendly Key West and has healthy numbers of Democratic voters.

Curbelo’s rhetoric is tea party playbook — from attacks on Medicare to wanting to chip away at Roe v. Wade, one of the few truly protective U.S. Supreme Court decisions on behalf of women. And who can forget Curbelo’s show of disrespect for first lady Michelle Obama when he tried to cancel her visit to Barbara Goleman Senior High School in 2012?

Fariñas’ appearance on the ad has generated unnecessary controversy. Who knows what political damage will come with the allusion of support from a man who lives on the island, can suffer from the foreign affiliation, and should’ve had no role to play in a nasty, divisive American election.

▪ From the grave and consequential, we turn to the plain silly — and ugh, 2016 already.

When I recently wrote a column taking to task Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, for his betrayal of immigration reform, some Republican friends (acquaintances in the real world) unfriended me on Facebook. (At least in the modern world, you don’t have to break up via angry phone calls).

That was childish enough, but shortly after, I wrote a column taking President Barack Obama to task for failing to provide humanitarian relief to undocumented immigrants via executive order for political reasons.

They sent me friend requests again.

Is it all over yet? Please.

  Comments