Last night, one of the stranger moments in American politics occurred. Already, you might be thinking….this should be a doozie. Moreover, it was one of the strangest moments in Florida politics. Now that’s saying something (without saying anything)!

Last night was the first gubernatorial debate between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov., and former Republican, now Democrat, Charlie Crist. Although I have grown to loathe these performances called debates, I agreed to watch and see if it was worth anything. The moderators were introduced and were about to introduce the candidates, when they were informed that both candidates were not yet available. Strange. Then Charlie Crist emerged and stood behind his podium. Alone. The moderators were flummoxed and clearly unprepared for such an occurrence. The camera zoomed in on an oscillating fan ensconced in the base of Crist’s podium. The moderator then explained that Crist had a fan, but that the rules of the debate included no electronics. Rick Scott refused to debate Crist as long as Crist had a fan.

Ultimately, after several minutes (which felt like much more), Gov. Rick Scott appeared, and commenced the performance as though he were just running a bit late. Huh?

While Crist was waiting at the podium, the moderator read the rule regarding electronics and a statement from the Scott camp suggesting that Scott would not agree to debate unless all the rules were upheld. This of course gave Crist the opportunity to truly own the stage, by commenting that they should be debating issues affecting Floridians, including education and the economy, climate issues, etc–not whether or not a fan can be used.

Soon, the Scott camp reversed itself, I’m guessing because someone realized that Crist was scoring a point or two at the expense of Scott who was obstructing, and Scott then appeared ready to rumble.

Then I turned off the debate. I can not imagine that anyone would have been moved one way or the other, except to perhaps confirm the notion that voting doesn’t matter. This is the tragedy. We are rather entrenched in our ideologies, and political parties ensure those divisions. Even those of us who want to find ways to govern that would include compromise, often end up voting party line when we don’t know enough or care enough. Of course, this reinforces the political chasm that has rendered our system largely unworkable and unaccomplished.

I used to love politics and real debate about ideas and governance. Now, I am NO FAN! We rely on media, which is notoriously unreliable for advancing knowledge, and a campaign system that is a farce and an insane waste of money. I have tuned out much of the noise that is supposed to be news. I am no longer a fan!

Fandom is a curious phenomenon. While we seek like minded or similarly experienced people, or teams, or performers who seem to express our preferences and/or allegiances, too often fandom (or the display of fandom) becomes the ultimate expression. Fans tend to relish their own energy and feel good about being supportive of something exciting. The excitement is as much about being a fan as it is about the performer. Die hard fans, often ignore (and perhaps excuse) problematic performances and behavior (from performers and fans). We see this in politics and sports, and even the aging rocker (and aging fans) who are happy just to be doing the same schtick as long as possible.

Now, I am not suggesting that we should not have fans or that we should not be fans. I am suggesting that too often people get stuck in not seeing beyond fans.

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