Look below at the state of Florida, such as it is.
There was nothing but a series of meaningless 1 o'clock kickoffs on Fox-TV Sunday, that rare day when both CBS and Fox had double-headers throughout most of the country because the Cowboys at Redskins game was 'flexed' and moved to NBC's nationally-televised game, where it set all sorts of viewing records.
One of those 1 p.m. kickoffs was the Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons game.
But the map clearly shows that even when all the games are unimportant and in many cases, probably almost un-watchable, in the view of local CBS station general managers, SE Florida STILL has more in common identity-wise with the Northeastern U.S. than it does with another part of Florida just a few hours away, in this case, Tampa Bay, as Fox TV stations voted with their wallets in mind, not state unity: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants.
NFL on FOX: Week 17 Early Game - December 30, 2012
(Unless the Bucs are very good and might go to the Super Bowl!
Then, of course, everyone's on the bandwagon!)
That is, unless that sort of de facto regionalism and identity-politics doesn't lead to money or more money:
com/2004-06-19/news/ 0406180578_1_miami-dade- county-homeland-security-palm- beach-county
com/2011-07-20/news/fl-jscol- opedpage-wed0720-20110720_1_ regional-cooperation-regional- efforts-counties
So let me lay the groundwork for bringing up the map.
Based on my own experiences and those of friends, and especially my 15 years living and working in the Washington, D.C. area, I can tell you that it's often the case for well-informed and politically-aware Floridians that when you're outside of the state, regardless of where you are or even whether it's a formal occasion, that upon finding out where you're from -and that you really are on top of things- that people will start making a beeline towards you, even if somewhat slowly at first.
Eventually, someone will start randomly asking you to try to explain something they heard or read about that happened in Florida that they can't make sense of, or ask you how and why Florida is the confusing, peculiar and exasperating way that it is.
If you're anything like me, your response probably starts out with the most obvious -geography.
In such a large state, one that actually includes two different time zones, and cursed with a state capital that is not only NOT located in a large city, but located in a city that is NOT in any way shape and form centrally-located to the majority of the state's population, a lack of a common frame of reference for residents and voters is often the biggest problem when it comes to identity and knowledge of individual issues and personalities.
All of this is made worse by the generally poor coverage of local and state politics at most TV stations compared to even twenty years ago.
Institutional knowledge, what's that?
Yes, the people who actually knew the personalities involved, their pet projects and longstanding grudge and the general ins-and-outs for how things work, to say nothing of where the bodies were buried have come and gone.
They've been replaced by younger reporters who, in many cases, couldn't legally vote in the 1980's and who actually know very little.
Very, very little -and you know it.
And who had no connection to Florida before being hired.
The reality of Florida having so many different TV markets is that many well-qualified candidates running for statewide office, people who could plausibly be elected in many other states, simply can't compete here because of the prohibitive media costs involved, even if most voters agree with them on the issues.
Lofty and abstract ideas of democratic participation and outreach quickly fall by the wayside when your reality is that that unless you raise X millions of dollars, just for TV commercials, you are dead in the water.
Despite the Digital Revolution and the growing importance and influence of blogs, websites and Social Media to political campaigns, the sort of "free media" that exists in many other states that allows high-minded and well-informed candidates to remain a part of the larger conversation simply DOESN'T exist in Florida.
I wish it did but it doesn't.
This is made worse by the fact that despite the influx of new residents from other states, many from states with such a tradition, Florida DOESN'T have a tradition of voting "Independent," despite how many people in this state claim to be "independent."
So, those are just a few of the more obvious barriers to getting the sort of high-caliber candidates that other states often have and which keeps Florida a Confederacy of Dunces.
Once you've mentioned this to your interlocutor, you usually mention the influence of Latin America, blah, blah...
Then you mention the five/six nations of Florida, which is itself, a metaphorical subdivision of Joel Garreau's “The Nine Nations of North America.”
When I was a kid growing-up in South Florida during the 1970's, what was frequently remarked upon by almost everyone, especially during the holidays, was the low number of actual Florida-born natives we knew, since when I was in Jr. High and High School in North Miami Beach, despite being someone who knew almost everyone, I knew only a handful of people who were actually born in Florida, which made them outliers.
The kids who'd never seen snow!
Most of them were either Hispanic or African-American, and for whatever reason, almost always boys.
For some reason, girls were almost always from somewhere else, somewhere where they wore nice sweaters purchased at upscale Northeastern or Midwestern stores.
Which is why when I was growing-up in NMB, January and February existed at Jr. High as fashion season for girls, the one time they could wear something that was identical to what every other girl was wearing.
Boys wore boring windbreakers of 4-5 primary colors, unless, like me, they were sporting a teal-colored Dolphins windbreaker, back when they were, to use a word, relevant.
Those were the days!