Trump's election came out of the Florida swamp
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We were on the Dixie Highway somewhere outside Homestead at the edge of the Everglades when the urge to get the hell out of the Sunshine State took hold.

We were surrounded by vicious alligators that lurked in the swamp at the side of the road. Turkey vultures circled overhead and danger hung thick in the humid fall air.

It was Monday Nov. 6, 2000. We’d been in Florida for most of the week: Cruised on South Beach, had barbecue at Sonny’s on Sugarland Highway in Clewiston, visited Gatorama, an alligator farm on US-27 and shot $60 ounces of blue agave in Orlando. 

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Seems idyllic right? In truth that week turned out to be the beginning of the end of trustworthy elections in America. Within days we would learn of hanging chads, undercounts and the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in electoral politics.

Needless to say it wasn’t pretty. 

And none of it made sense until January 2013 when @_FloridaMan appeared on Twitter. 

Just look at his tweets from the past week:

If that’s not terrifying enough, then maybe the @Flor1daWoman account makes it more clear just how messed up Florida really can be, especially with situations like these gems:

Yes. Exactly. They don’t know karate, but Florida sure knows crazy.

These people and their 29 electoral votes have played a role in deciding our elections for more than a decade. They’ve been holding the rest of us hostage. Unfortunately Florida continued to matter Tuesday.

Looking at election results during a “Key Race Alert” early Tuesday Wolf Blitzer breathlessly remarked “Remember Florida, Florida, Florida. It’s important.”

What makes our orange juice producing southern paradise so crucial is the huge cultural disconnect that defines it.

Long before it seemed deplorables would carry the day in Florida, Sean Hannity complained on his radio show Tuesday that the state’s former conservative leanings have been tainted by liberal northerners who move there for sunsets on the Gulf and warm weather assisted living facilities.

It was almost as if he was complaining about the end of the Confederacy instead of praising the demise of bigotry and racism. 

But he needn’t have worried. And ultimately, Florida mattered because someone convinced folks that the time had come for some revenge on the rest of America. Get back — a big payback. 

Clinton campaign staffers frequently talked about the magic number 29. And Trump himself said he wouldn’t win the presidency without Florida men and women. 

So what happened? Perhaps all the potential Trump voters were out on their own recognizance after all that weekend mayhem, or they decided to vote early before the rigged Nov. 28 election their candidate famously touted.

Or maybe month after month of vindictive and mean-spirited campaigning struck a chord with voters who live their lives in the nation’s longest running reality show “Cops”.

Who knows?

The one thing we can deduce is that thanks to Florida it’s going to be a long night, maybe a long week maybe even a long four years. 

Fortunately, Canada is taking citizenship applications. I hear there are no alligators

Girardot is a former editor and columnist with the Los Angeles News Group. He is co-author of true crime tales "A Taste For Murder" and the soon-to-be released "Cocaine Cops: An insider's tale of brutality, greed and corruption in the NYPD." Follow him on Twitter @FrankGirardot


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