The future of Trumpism, the appeal of anti-establishment populist candidates, could actually lie in lifelong Democrats like John Morgan.
In Florida, polls have always shown that the electorate’s party ID is not as reliable an indivcator of how someone will vote than it is in other states. This is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that Florida voters on average view their vote as “more important” because Florida is such a swing state. It’s also because the minority groups in Florida tend to be more skeptical of their party leaders, as evidenced by spectacularly low approvals for congressional leaders among such groups like Cuban-Americans.
That said, Floridians vote with their gut, which shows why after going twice for Obama the state swung for Trump. Both Obama and Trump represented change in a big way. They campaigned against the political elites and the brokenness of Washington, D.C. They campaigned on a different direction for the country and “draining the swamp.”
Where Trump and Obama differed is also incredibly stark, particularly in their demeanor. Trumpism has a lot to do with the public appeal and charm that comes with being a bombastic, fun-loving, envelope-pushing wildcard. That, combined with anti-establishment populism is what gives Trumpism its winning recipe among Florida voters.
Looking at Florida’s gubernatorial race, there’s only one candidate who fits that bill – famous trial attorney John Morgan. Despite being a lifelong Democrat, Morgan has recently captivated the affection of non-political voters who tend to only care about one or two very specific issues. The issue, in this case, is weed. Legal weed, to be exact, which Morgan has emerged as the political leader of in the last few years.
In 2014, Morgan threw a bunch of his own money into and led the campaign for legalizing medical marijuana in Florida. He did this through a constitutional amendment, which the Florida electorate overwhelmingly supported.
No one believed he could do it. Even Democrats called him crazy, and that the state would never go for it. They were right, in the traditional sense. Elected legislators would never have gone along with it, hence his rarely-attempted approach of going right to the voters themselves.
Trump did exactly the same thing. His message wasn’t for Republican voters, it was for non-voters and citizens who had grown disenfranchised with the entire political system. He campaigned on challenging leaders in both parties, and getting things done no matter what because he was a master negotiator. In the Republican primaries, he conquered all traditional conservatives and establishment party members. Easily.
Morgan could do the same thing as a Democratic candidate for Governor, but in the era of Trumpism there’s a third option. Morgan built his own massive business and expanded his own brand, and that’s exactly what he can do as an Independent candidate. Trump proved that you don’t need to adhere to a traditional party platform if you have the Trumpism formula on your side.
Morgan’s celebrity, sharp tongue, and popular stances on many issues – especially legal weed – make him the ideal Trump candidate for Florida governor. If he runs as an Independent and wins against both parties, he’ll prove that Trumpism transcends party and open the floodgates in American politics to challenge the longstanding two-party paradigm.