Politics Rebrands Florida | The Futurist 2023

A year ago, I published a series of pieces in this space on how rapidly Sarasota was transforming. I have received more and lengthier emails in response to these essays than at any other time during my tenure as a writer at the Herald-Tribune. The gist of the articles was that the tranquil, cosmopolitan, attractive, and reasonably priced sliver of paradise known as Sarasota was rapidly becoming unrecognizable.

Since then, and for the first time since I’ve been here, I’ve had multiple chats with others about how awful Sarasota has become. The most common concerns have been about housing costs, traffic congestion, overdevelopment, and companies’ inability to recruit out-of-state workers owing to these issues.

Sarasota is experiencing the same difficulties as several other attractive locations. Individuals visit a location on vacation, fall in love with it, and either purchase a second home there or live there. Aspen is the typical example. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, this ski resort was perfect.

As a result of the influx of rich residents, the housing market boomed, and there was nowhere for employees to dwell. The ski resorts and restaurants were unable to locate sufficient employees. The city finally constructed a number of dormitory-style residential complexes miles away from the city and bused workers into the city. Aspen is presently one of the most affluent cities per capita and per density in the United States.

This appears to be the road plan for the future of Sarasota in 2023.

This column discusses the changing nature of the state of Florida. Why? Due to politicians and their political goals, Florida’s international reputation is shifting.

Like the majority of you, I talk regularly with folks from various states and nations. Inevitably, the question “what is happening in Florida?” is posed.

What people from throughout the nation and the globe have learned about our state in the past several years is:

  • Books are being outlawed
  • The crimson tide appears to be an annual occurrence.
  • Women do not have equal rights.
  • Gay people are discriminated against
  • Disney World is terrible
  • Education at Florida’s public colleges is becoming increasingly partisan and anyone may carry a gun.
  • All of these things have been brought up to me by folks I know who reside abroad.

Tourism is one of Florida’s most significant economic drivers. About $30 billion was spent by 140 million tourists in 2022.

The preceding list, compiled by politicians with personal objectives, is not tourist-friendly. To quickly run through the list:

  • Those who value education and literature no longer hold our state in high esteem. Except for Florida politicians, I do not know a single anyone who supports the prohibition of books.
  • I believe that the red tide is mostly caused by human activities on land, such as the use of fertilizers, runoff, and unbridled growth. I am aware of individuals who did not visit the state for spring break as a result of this.
  • Politicians of the state make it quite evident that women are second-class citizens. Almost fifty percent of the world’s population is female, and in the United States, a substantial majority supports abortion rights.
  • Several homosexuals across the globe are aware that Florida, its governor, and other politicians are anti-gay. No longer will so many visit
  • With 12 million visits in 2021, Disney World was the most popular theme park in the world.
  • Our community views the entire takeover of New College as a fascist act. Who will apply to attend from outside the state? Lately, I have heard and read from several sources that high school seniors and their parents who are applying to colleges believe that politicians control the curricula of all state institutions and that they should go elsewhere.
  • The push by the governor and the legislature to make it lawful for nearly anybody to openly carry a firearm is astonishingly anti-tourism. Just wait till a tourist walking on the beach is shot. In today’s hyper-connected society, this meme will spread globally.
  • This is not the profile of any state I have ever visited. That is not the state to which I relocated partially in 2005 and permanently in 2015.

Politicians that are purely concerned with attaining power are detrimental to Florida’s reputation. I don’t believe they care or have even considered this.

What is your opinion?

David Houle, who resides in Sarasota, is an internationally renowned futurist. He has delivered presentations on six continents and is the futurist-in-residence at Ringling College of Art & Design.

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