Gaetz viewpoint talks about disagreeing without rancor, a lesson lost in Pensacola

Don Gaetz
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz wrote a viewpoint for the Tallahassee Democrat in support of John Thrasher being selected as the new Florida State University president (Work with Thrasher).

He opened with an insightful story about how he and Thrasher, one of the most influential leaders in the Florida Senate, battled on an issue when Gaetz first was elected to the body.

“I was a very junior senator facing one of Florida’s most respected, influential leaders who believed, on his side, just as strongly as I did on mine,” he wrote. “It was the toughest fight of my legislative career.”

Gaetz admitted that he feared he was earning a powerful enemy, regardless who won the fight. Instead, Thrasher stretched out his hand to him and said, “Now let’s work together.” There were no threats to “make his life a living hell.”

No, the pair figured out how to work together.

We miss in Northwest Florida that type of statesmanship. Our politics is dominated by threats, intimidation and grudges (some that go as far back as high school).

Commissioner Gene Valentino loses his primary and now he and his supporters are out to defeat the GOP winner, Doug Underhill. Ronnie McNesby and this cronies did the same thing in 2008, breaking ranks from the Republican Party to support Larry Scappechi against David Morgan.

The defeated don’t help the winner, they get even – for every imagined slight.

At Pensacola City Hall, it’s middle school politics. Lawyers hired to intimidate and threaten. Demand letters sent, then leaked to the media. Social media used to promote the mayor and attack those who disagree with his position on a issue. It’s a “You are either with us or you’re against us” mentality. Only those who cheer and applaud are allowed.

Adults know how to disagree without demanding the heads of their opponents. In Pensacola and Escambia County politics, we need more adults.