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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Standing in a Walmart aisle, two walls of brightly colored confections fill your peripheral vision and stretch into the horizon. They tower on either immediate side of you, but narrow as they converge and disappear at a point in the center of your vision. It was as if a sea of snack food had been divinely parted, allowing you to walk into the promised land. Paradise. Rold Gold; Cheetos, both Flamin’ Hot and regular; Smartfood popcorn; and all flavors of Lays leap out at you as you wheel your cart down the middle of the path, suspended magnetically between either side like a Japanese bullet train. After only a few minutes, you have picked a rainbow of colors and your cart looks like a junk food bouquet.

But wait, aren’t you going home in a few weeks to have an actual Thanksgiving meal? You compromise with a small bag of baby carrots and head for checkout.

Something still feels off. Looking at your cart, you have a change of heart. You remove the bag of carrots and chuck it haphazardly among the beef jerky in the checkout line. You can’t wait to get home and rip into a big bag of…

Darts & Laurels

An initial dart to temptation.

We all do things that are unhealthy for us, but we often make the right moral choices too. On Tuesday, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to more than 1.2 million people. Overnight. That number is large enough to sway Florida’s characteristically close elections. In this governor’s race, the current margin between the winner, Ron DeSantis, and the loser, Andrew Gillum, was a mere 36,000 votes as of Thursday night. That is less than half a percent of all votes cast. The race for U.S. Senate between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott, with votes still being counted, is even closer — just 15,000 votes determine the winner. That’s close enough to trigger a mandatory vote recount, which will likely happen given the number of election mishaps, including a ballot design in Broward County that almost caused voters to miss the selection for the Senate race.

A laurel to voters all across the state, who supported Amendment 4’s passage by a large margin. A special laurel to voters in Miami, Orlando and Tampa where margins in favor of Amendment 4 were nearly two to one, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Amendment 4’s passing was a long time coming. Florida started disenfranchising felons as far back as the 1868 election, when black Floridians first exercised their right to vote. The first anti-felon voting laws were racially targeted. The legislature acted in an undoubtedly morally wrong direction — an ultimate, life-altering, cruel, inhumane form of chucking the baby carrots. A dart to the systematic disenfranchisement of the Reconstruction-era South.

Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” We hope it bends further and faster. And when it does not bend fast enough, we must hammer it into a curve befitting our own moral character through vote and protest.

Speaking of protest, thousands of them are taking place all over the country in response to President Donald Trump’s ousting of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump, after months of belittling, insulting and criticizing Sessions, finally worked up the political courage to ask him to resign. His replacement, Matthew Whitaker, has publicly praised Trump and vocally criticized the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. He is widely believed to be a Trump ally and some fear he may defund Mueller’s investigation into the Russia scandal — the same scandal that Sessions recused himself of and immediately thereafter lost the trust of the president. Trump has indicated that he wants his chief legal officers to protect him politically.

If this upsets you, don’t just vote. It’s too late for that. The next national election isn’t for another two years. Go out and practice corporeal politics. Protest. It’s the one way you can show we are not a nation that indulges in junk food decisions forever.

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