Home People Of Politics, Guns and The Douglas 17 (Opinion)

Of Politics, Guns and The Douglas 17 (Opinion)



As I write, I realize I’m wrestling with both political and personal anger, sadness and frustration with the news of the day.


By far, I am affected by the horrific images of the student massacre at Parkland’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglas school.  It is nothing short of a colossal, massive failure of just about everyone and everything leaving unspeakable pain in its path.

As a father of four and grandfather of three and a half, I am terrified for my family and the country in which they are growing up.  My heart breaks for the victim’s families and their friends, and as a professional wordsmith – I find I have no words that mitigate these images.  I can find no “silver linings” today.


My frustration spits out in anger at our elected leaders.  There are no party designations here.  Washington and Tallahassee politicians have failed to lead or even consider and try solutions to our gun problems, or our mental health challenges.  But they are the hypocritical first ones on the scene with down-cast eyes and sorrowful statements too often casting blame on the other guy.   Their spoken comfort should be summerly rejected for what it is – their abject admission of their failure to act.

But while the politicians blame each other, I blame us.  I blame the parents who don’t vote. I blame the 90% of Fort Lauderdale voters who won’t vote this March 13th for Mayor and the two challenged commission seats.

To me, it is a simple proposition.  If we can’t contribute to the improvements in our neighborhoods, how can we fix our cities?  If we can’t elect good people who are better at governing than politicking to our city elected offices, how can we fix our county?  If we can’t elect leaders to County government and our County School Board, how can we fix our State?  If we can’t elect effective representative’s who can set aside partisan and base political calculations to state government, how can we fix our Country?

I’ve been involved professionally in close to 1,000 political campaigns over the last 30 years, and most of the candidates I have worked with have heard me instruct them that their primary job as a candidate is to give the voter a clear choice.  I illustrate this prime directive with the story of the “Plummer and the Brain Surgeon.”  It goes like this.

There is a likable, effervescent plumber whose company everyone enjoys and there is a brain surgeon who is annoying and socially awkward whose company is like scraping a chalkboard.  You have to choose between them.   The thing is, you have a brain tumor.  Who do you choose?

The critically thinking voter would naturally choose the brain surgeon.  Sadly, in my experience, most voters park their critical thinking in some oblivious yard far away from their actions and choose the plumber.  So professionally, I spend most of my time ensuring that my client candidate is likable as opposed to competent hoping (often in vain) that they will grow into their elected position. Unfortunately, I’m too successful and more often then not, my likable candidate wins.


Around the time our U.S. Constitution was debated and ultimately adopted, Joseph deMaistre, considered the most visionary of France’s early counterrevolutionaries remarked that “In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.”.

Our politicians have failed because as voters we have failed, or not even bothered to show up.

The Douglas 17, demand that we do better, and will haunt us until we do.

Be wary of the power of misstatement & misdirection masquerading as something you want to hear instead of what you need to hear.   Actively engage, dismiss excuses – take action.  Courageously support candidates you may not like because they are the better choice. Demand action, expect success and reject mediocrity.


Recognize the politicians and so-called leaders who show up for photo-ops and carefully rehearsed sound bites, but then do nothing blaming the other guy for their failure to deliver.  It is no longer enough to introduce legislation, it has to pass.  That’s their job, and if they can’t do it – vote for someone else.

But this is just my opinion this morning.  The Douglas 17, RIP.

Dan Lewis of Strategic Technologies Research, Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a former elected Miramar commissioner, Chair of the Broward County Charter Review Commission as well as many City, School Board and County public advisory boards over the last three decades. The opinions expressed here are his own and not that of SouthFloridaReporter.