I always have an open mind when it comes to elections. I’m not a partisan. I want to hear from all the candidates and give them a chance to present their ideas.
I recently gave this chance to Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, but I cannot and will not be supporting him this November. Why? Gillum is an extremist. Some of his views and associations exist completely outside of the mainstream.
To start, Gillum doesn’t believe in policing. In his own words, if “a law enforcement official has to go to a weapon, to a gun, to a baton, to a Taser,” then law enforcement has gone “too far by their very presence.” We can look to countries like France to see what unarmed policing is like. France may be reconsidering its unarmed police force for obvious reasons. The government has identified 78 attempted terrorist attacks over the last five years. It’s difficult to stop such attacks if police are unarmed.
This isn’t Gillum’s only position on the issue. Gillum has rightfully come under fire for signing the Dream Defenders’ “Freedom Pledge,” a pledge that states if elected governor, Gillum will commit to “divest” from “police.” When his opponent Ron DeSantis raised this pledge at a recent CNN debate, Gillum claimed he had “no idea” what DeSantis was referring to. Gillum’s defense isn’t believable. Politicians don’t sign pledges and later forget.
The Dream Defenders hold other radical beliefs. The organization’s “Freedom Papers” highlight a creepy utopian and communist vision where “by virtue of being born” people have a right to “food,” “health care,” “work,” and “living wages.” The document states that police and prisons have no place in justice. Most alarmingly, the organization calls for an end to our national borders. Gillum himself has said he would like to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency that enforces immigration law.
Does Gillum believe in these crazy ideas? If he doesn’t, then why not associate with a different and more moderate organization? Unfortunately, this isn’t a first-time offense.
In 2016, Andrew Gillum addressed the Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. The left-leaning Democratic mayor even acknowledged that he welcomed and thanked the group. CAIR has longstanding ties with Hamas, a terrorist organization with goals of obliterating Israel. An FBI agent investigating the organization testified that the group was a front for Hamas. Additionally, CAIR Florida’s Executive Director Hassan Shibly (who has formally spoken on campus several times) has tweeted that “Israel & it’s supporters are enemies of God and humanity.” He also seemed to justify the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris by blaming the United States.
None of this information is new. CAIR’s ties with Hamas and justifications for terrorism have long been public knowledge. Who casually associates with a group that has been credibly accused of having ties with terrorists? And one would think that if a person mistakenly associated with a group like CAIR, they would correct the record and disavow them right? Nope. Not Gillum. Gillum and his campaign don’t even try to hide it. They brag about it. Gillum’s campaign manager recently told the Miami Herald that Gillum welcomed CAIR to Tallahassee just last year.
Gillum is clearly a charismatic politician. He wouldn’t have made it this far if he wasn’t, but Floridians who are captivated by his campaign have some serious thinking to do. Is this the type of person you want running the state? I don’t. I want a governor who believes in the full enforcement of the law. I want a governor who believes in our existence as a nation through our borders. And I certainly don’t want a governor who associates with groups linked to terrorism. Gillum could’ve ended speculation about his radical associations by publicly disavowing these groups. He hasn’t, and that should be telling as to what he really believes. I hope Floridians remember that on Election Day.
Eduardo Neret is a UF finance senior. His column appears on Wednesdays.