Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

God, I love Florida

I stepped out of Moe's (of course) about twenty minutes ago. I went from frosty A/C, with a scent of steak and tortillas steaming to the warm air of Florida at dusk. A soft breeze was blowing, and the air smelled of nothing in particular, but it was all Florida. I paused as the door swung shut and whispered to myself, "God, I love Florida."

I give my home state a lot of shit. I joke about it being the nation's wang. I complain about all the people who move here. I worry over its changing political climate, which is turning increasingly conservative and which gives lots of lip-service to the idea of sustainable development and environmentalism, but increasingly does things that go against those philosophies. But really, in all my travels (and honestly, there haven't been alot), I've never found a place I love as much as this state.

I love the weather. Yes, its hot and humid. But I still love it. I walk around campus during my lunch breaks, wearing long sleeve shirts (and undershirt!), long pants, and shoes with socks. I sweat, I melt a little from the humidity. But I still love it. Everyone in the office complains constantly about it being too hot. I have no idea what they're talking about. Its perfect. When I go outside, I can feel the heat sinking into me, envigorating me, making me want to move around, explore and seek new things out.

I love the people in this state and how diverse it is. Gainesville is Florida in a microcosm, ethnically. Here, you have everybody. Rich and poor (very rich and very poor, actually). Lots of hispanics, lots of whites, probably not enough blacks (at the University, at least), a fair chunk of Asians, who certainly represent themselves well. I ate lunch at a Cuban place, which is right next to a tavern, above a Japenese milk-tea place, down the street from a hippy sandwich place, and across the street from the largest (and most likely, best) University in the Southeast. That is just awesome.

I love the environment in the state. You have the south, where the swamp is king. I love parts of the Everglades (especially the mangrove islands on the west coast), while I'm less fond of other parts (I really don't have an urge to go through the actual swamp part). But either way, the Everglades are amazing. I think I love the north more. Oak and pine hammocks, rivers, springs, amazing woodlands and parks. Its a place I could see living for the rest of my life.

For a while, I've wanted to go into politics. The problem in American politics is that its all based on land. To go to Congress, you need to represent a district or a state. This becomes hard for people who want to travel, or leave their state. And as much as I agree with Hendrik Hertzberg's ideas for amending the Constitution,* his suggestions are unlikly to be followed. That leaves the people who stay in one place to be the most likely to be elected. This worried me until recently, when I realized that I'm OK staying in Florida. Or at least, coming back after a while (I do want, and need, to experience other places).

There are things I don't like about this state. I think the constant influx of people perpetuates the perception of "Development for Development's sake." It doesn't allow the state to explore other, more sustainable types of industry. It also is constantly killing off large parts of the state. I don't like Orlando. It's too much, with no history behind it. I don't like that the more people who move to the state, the more conseravative it gets. I don't like the fact that theres so little regulation in the state, meaning that many large coporations and rich epople come here and run amok. I hate how little is put into education and basic services. And I don't like how easy it is to change our state Constitution to put absolutely stupid things in.

But in the end, these things don't chase me out of the state. They make me want to stay and try to fix these things. Florida is a great place, and it deserves to be saved from the people who are ruining. So Florida, I may rag on you, I may leave you, but I'll always come back.

*To put it simply, Hertzberg dislikes the winner take all system in America, and especially the Constitution's insistence on basing politics on land. In today's world, with instant communication, its much easier to build a dispersed, but national consituency than a local one. So he proposed eliminating one Senator from each state's representatives, and making those fifty elected by a national vote using some kind of preferential voting system. This allows for more intellectuals or national personalities to be elected. Yes, people like Al Sharpton or Pat Robertson would probably be able to be elected. But so would truely intelligent people who have traveled the world and had many experiences. You know, the type of people who would be good at running the country.


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