Our story starts where usually it ends, at least in Florida anyway: on a crowded highway at breakneck speed and heavily, heavily distracted.
“What are you doing?” my wife screams, “Keep your hands on the wheel!” Our black jeep emblazoned in Antifa and Stirner stickers roars past 65 and into the 80’s, passing a camouflage truck bearing a confederate flag.
“I am, I am,” I say in a reassuring tone, trying to ignore the nearby honks and screams. “I just have to record what’s happening. How we got here, that sort of thing.” I reach for the voice recorder in my pocket, flipping the switch and trying to speak over the salsa music blaring out of the radio. “It was a Wednesday, my usual day for oiling up my essential tools of sorcery and conjuration when the lead came in-”
“Why are you talking like that?”
“Like…like what?” I tap the brakes to pass another wreck.
“Like that, like you’re some detective or something.”
“Oh. I’m narrating, Boo.”
“I see that. Why is the question.” I pretend not to hear her and continue talking into the device.
“A Marxist-Leninist who doubles as a tenth-generation Floridian wanted to know if I’d be available to attend a Democrat town hall. Normally I’d avoid such things like the plague, though the thought of dropping in three sheets to the wind and screaming curses no doubt sounded appealing.”
“Yes, really.” We switch lanes, a rickety 18-wheeler nervously riding the little yellow lines separating us from certain death. “I despised Democrats,” I continued, “even more than I hated Republicans, and to be deep within enemy territory unarmed was something I had no intention of doing. But when I heard the Democrats would be having a ‘People’s Town Hall’ in one of the wealthier Florida enclaves I knew the spirits had gifted me an enormous opportunity. The gods are with us it appears, greater tides coursing through the timelines. As G&R’s sole Reporter of Fortune it is my sworn duty to cover such weirdness. There is no doubt in this journalist’s mind that what I will witness-“
“What WE will witness-“
“What WE will witness will be nothing short of a full-blown omen, a magical synchronicity giving those with the eyes to see a naked glimpse at the beating heart of American liberalism.“
“Reach Out and Convince the Non-Believers.”
Maybe the night’s events can be blamed on the soil. Conjurers know dirt carries power. The location of a spell can change everything from who it affects to how it plays out. Speak Out Brevard, the progressive non-profit putting on the town hall, could not have picked a more hilarious venue.
Viera is a pop-up “planned community” pulled out of cowfields and built to cater almost exclusively to the well-to-do. It is a strange, unnatural place and on sunny days as they scrub jays play you get the distinct sensation you’ve slipped into an alternate dimension. Houses can be bought there “for the low 400’s” and small malls covered in chain restaurants assure the would be patron that for a mere $40 the humble pizza pie can be taken “from food into art.” Winds tear through hundreds of acres of prairie only to slam against fertility clinics and banks. The temperature is hot enough to cause you to walk slow and speak even slower, unconsciously mimicking the spirits of Cowhunters and farmers who no doubt still tread across the very land you stand on.
But the herds are gone, as are the farms, and instead you’ll find yourself enmeshed in botox injections, faux-miami fashion, and stores hawking nautical memorabilia nearly 18 miles from the seashore. The same soil haunted by blues and ranch hands has been bought up by palms so smooth from luxury it’s said quarters will roll right off them.
Here, of all places, the Democrats chose to make their appeal to the people of Florida.
We were lost for what seemed like an hour, trapped in a maze of Panera’s and roundabouts, until a massive brick structure rose from the horizon. There, shrouded in the favor of heaven, was Viera Highschool, and by extension The People’s Town Hall. The school’s auditorium had been chosen as tonight’s seat of populism and as we pulled in we took note of a parking lot full of cars barely three years old.
Some driven by parents, others by their kids.
Getting in was pretty easy, though we were welcomed to a standing room only event; iphones mounted on tripods jutting out from a sea of white faces and name-brand clothing. I was looking for Harmony, our contact, flumbling with my voice recorder when I began to notice a subtle etheric shift. I glanced over my shoulder only to be greeted by a row of sheriffs covered in long faces. Everything about them said they’dve been much happier breaking up this event with clubs than providing it protection.
A petite voice echoed out from the stage far ahead. “We will now start with the pledge of allegiance.” The line of cops suddenly freezes as the those in seats suddenly rose, pinning one of the pigs directly behind me.
I chuckle now when I think about it, and can only imagine what was going through his head, my hand noticeably not on my heart and my hat still very much on, a jacket with communist symbols staring back at him with the word “PRESS” obnoxiously visible. Before I could ask him a few questions a bespectacled woman clutching a notebook made her way to us, slipping through bodies like a Seminole through trees. It was Harmony, and after a small introduction she led us to three seats she’d managed to save right at the front.
Ellie Logan, the president of the NGO putting on this event, strode towards the podium with a grin that indicated she was pleased. “This place was empty like, 20 minutes ago,” Harmony told me, rubbing her pentagram ring, “but than, bam, everybody just showed up all at once.”
The event, Ellie proclaimed on stage, was “not a liberal town hall, not a republican town hall” but a “people’s town hall,” one that would reflect the key issues faced by Floridians whether politicians wanted to pay attention or not. Of course this wasn’t exactly true: Speak Out Brevard was overwhelmingly liberal, and the large amount of “I’m with Her” stickers seen in the parking lot left little to wonder about where loyalties lay. Four speakers sat at a table on the stage, three women and one man, each one representing a pressing and topical issue: education, environmental issues, reproductive rights, and healthcare.
It was here the first telltale signs of Democrat influence were in full display. In a state where 3.2 million households – fully 45 percent– are daily struggling to support themselves the silence on poverty was deafening.
First at the podium didn’t come from the table and was more of a celebrity guest….