When culture wars detract from real problems


Imagine what we could do as a nation if we funneled all of the anger and rage we have toward culture wars into focusing on real problems right under our noses?

I will try not to be on my soapbox too much here, but much of the uproar over “cancel culture” (AKA the new “fake news”) is over the very thing so many people love about the United States – capitalism. Dr. Seuss Enterprises chose to remove a few of Dr. Seuss’ books from future printings on their own volition. Hasbro decided to make it just “Potato Head.” Both of these entities have the free will and right to choose how to manage their organizations and products. That is the basis of capitalism and the “free market,” right?

Pop culture & music has always been controversial

And yes, pop culture, music especially, causes one to raise an eyebrow as to “why is this ok to blast on TV?” And while I’m not a fan of what’s been shown or created by some artists, I have to say this is nothing new. Remember Elvis and the drama his pelvic-shaking dancing caused in the 1950s? As soon as he was televised singing and dancing, he was slammed for his dance moves, as critics called it an “appalling lack of musicality,” for their “vulgarity” and “animalism.” People were outraged, but life moved forward.

the beatles albums

And then came the Beatles in the 1960s, they were called “four mop-headed anti-Christ beatniks” and it was said they were destroying the morals of America’s youth.

Madonna in the 1980s through, well, today. It’s hard to pick a single controversy with Madonna, but she’s still around and continued making music, and life went on.

Miley Cyrus in 2009 at the Kids Choice Awards or 2013 at the VMAs, and everything in between and after. And yet, she’s still here, making music.

I’m not saying the behavior of some of these artists is right, but pushing the envelope and trying to be “unique” and “memorable” is nothing new in the pop culture world. But to compare it with companies who are choosing to change or remove products is a false and unequivocal comparison.

Regardless, all of this is what we call culture wars. They spin the media and people out of control over, in my opinion, non-issues.

media bias chart 2021
Just a reminder of the various bias in the array of news media we have at our fingertips.

Where does your outrage over pop culture stem from?

How many Facebook posts have you put out with your outrage over the growing homeless, mental illness, and human rights crises we are witnessing in the “greatest country in the world”? My guess is none, but I bet you’ve shared a number of articles and angerly posted about racist books or non-gender potatoes. Why does the latter get your outrage, but the former doesn’t?

We get so caught up in the media spin — who, by the way, are making oodles off of your outrage over things that truly do not impact daily life. You’ve just decided that this is somehow an “infringement” on your life as an American and that you should be able to decide what books to read and what gender your potato is (ironically, the genderless potato allows for that**). You’ve decided that somehow these pop culture adjustments are somehow changing your way of life and it’s an outrage.

** (I also just want to note that gender is a construct, and therefore, there are no rules or laws determining what is and what isn’t. And the belief that we are male or female is also not as black or white as it seems. Our genetic and chromosomal makeup is not just THIS or THAT, believe it or not. We’ve always been told there’s XX (female) and XY (male), but it’s not as simple as that. But that’s neither here nor there, but I needed to say something since I’ve seen so many arguments against “Potato Head” saying that “It’s simple. There’s two genders – male and female…” etc., which that statement is inaccurate in so many ways.)

Let’s try this version of “whataboutism” with the real issues plaguing our nation

What about the 11 million kids in America living in poverty?

What about the children who are brought over to our country because “it’s the land of opportunity” and then they are held in facilities that look much like jail cells? These are innocent children. Where is your anger and fury over these children?

What about the more than half a million people (the last 2019 point-in-time figure from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development) who live in cars, on the street, or wherever they can find safety and shelter? (This number is pre-pandemic, and homelessness was already on the rise. Some predictions show that the number of people experiencing homelessness will increase by as much as 49%.)

girl with green hair wearing shirt that says "we should all care"

How about those facing untreated mental health issues? Before the pandemic, 9.7% of young adults and teens in the U.S. had severe major depression and 19% of adults experienced mental health issues. And of these people suffering with mental health challenges, 60% of youth and 23% of adults have unmet treatment needs.

What if we put all of these together? Before the pandemic, more than 45% of those experiencing homelessness also had a mental illness. Mental illness, access to treatment, and overall lack of affordable housing and healthcare are all interconnected.

And while we just made it through the last general election, isn’t it important that we research and understand the basic voting rights that are trying to be changed in states all over the country? Have you an opinion or outrage over the fact that more restrictions and hoops are being put in place to make it harder to vote? Why is this the case if we are the so-called “leader of the free world.” Seems like a lot of effort is being put forth to reduce people’s ability to participate in the very thing that makes us the “free world.”

little boy holding sign that says "this can't wait till I'm bigger"

Channeling outrage over trivial matters to issues that have devastating effects to fellow citizens

What if we put our collective outrage toward things that actually mattered … for more than just ourselves and our immediate family? If you want to show your kid Song of the South (good luck finding a copy) or read one of the six (of more than 60) books that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has decided not to print anymore … go for it. No one is stopping you. But I ask you, how is that bettering our communities? How is that bettering your children?

We have gone so far down this path of “self-sufficiency,” “survival of the fittest” and being “self-made” that we have completely lost sight of the fact that we are all connected, whether you like it or not. We need each other in so many ways.

And because of that, aren’t we all better off when we are all better off?

According to Merriam-Webster, here are the various, applicable definitions of society:

  • 1: companionship or association with one’s fellows : friendly or intimate intercourse : COMPANY
  • 2: a voluntary association of individuals for common ends, especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession
  • 3a: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another
  • 3b: a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests
  • 4a: a part of a community that is a unit distinguishable by particular aims or standards of living or conduct : a social circle or a group of social circles having a clearly marked identity

Please, I beg you, look around your local community and see how you can help. The amount of time, energy, and breaths (or keyboard striking) expended over inconsequential railing over this fake “cancel culture” notion could be better spent to improve your community and your country as a whole.



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Florida Amendment 1 - Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative

Amendment Sponsor: Florida Citizen Voters

Wording on the Ballot:

This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.

Because the proposed amendment is not expected to result in any changes to the voter registration process in Florida, it will have no impact on state or local government costs or revenue. Further, it will have no effect on the state’s economy.

Summary (in laymen's terms):

Amendment 1 seeks to replace one word in the Florida Constitution. The Florida Constitution currently states that “every” citizen of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote can vote in Florida. This amendment proposes changing “every” to “only a.”

The change would have no functional or financial effect on the state.

  • YES vote = You support amending the Florida Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida
  • NO vote = You oppose amending the Florida Constitution, and are in favor of keeping the existing language that says “every citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.

Florida Amendment 2 - Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission

Amendment Sponsor: Florida Legislature

Wording on the Ballot:

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets at 20-year intervals and is scheduled to next convene in 2037, as a method of submitting proposed amendments or revisions to the State Constitution to electors of the state for approval. This amendment does not affect the ability to revise or amend the State Constitution through citizen initiative, constitutional convention, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, or legislative joint resolution.

Summary (from the League of Women Voters FL):

An amendment to Florida’s Constitution can get on the ballot several ways, including through a vote by the Legislature, a citizen-led petition drive, constitutional convention, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years and whose 37 members are appointed by the governor, legislative leaders and the chief justice of the Florida Supreme court. This amendment would abolish the CRC, which last convened in 2017-18 and placed eight amendments on the 2018 ballot, several of which bundled different amendments into one question.

A YES vote would:

Eliminate the Constitution Revision Commission, which was created in 1968 and meets every 20 years to consider changes to the state Constitution.

Leaves four ways for a constitutional amendment to get on the ballot: through the Legislature, a citizen-led initiative, constitutional convention, or the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.

A NO vote would:

Preserve the state’s Constitution Revision Commission and its ability to present amendments to the voters every 20 years.

Florida Amendment 3 - Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Specified Critical Public Service Workforce

Amendment Sponsor: Florida Legislature

Wording on the Ballot:

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to grant an additional homestead tax exemption for nonschool levies of up to $50,000 of the assessed value of homestead property owned by classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and Florida National Guard members. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2023.

Summary (from the League of Women Voters FL):

This amendment would authorize the state Legislature to create a new homestead exemption of up to $50,000 for certain public service employees, including “classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and members of the Florida National Guard.” The exemption means property owners in these professions can subtract $50,000 from the assessed value of their property, which will reduce their local property tax bills. The exemption would be in addition to the standard $50,000 homestead exemptions Floridians already receive on their primary residence. The new exemption would not apply to assessments for school taxes. The Legislature has already passed a companion bill that, if the constitutional amendment is passed by 60% of Florida’s voters, will create the new exemption and make it effective on Jan. 1, 2023.

A Yes vote would:

  • Allow the Legislature to create a new homestead exemption up to $50,000.
  • Exclude the exemption from assessments for school property taxes.
  • Cost local governments $85.9 million in lost revenue for fiscal year 2023-24, growing to $96 million in fiscal year 2026-27. The state would make up for the losses in Florida’s 29 “fiscally constrained” counties, primarily rural counties in the Panhandle and South Florida’s interior.
  • Trigger a companion bill that puts the new exemption into effect as of Jan. 1, 2023.

A No vote would:

  • Reject giving lawmakers the ability to create a new homestead exemption for certain public service occupations up to $50,000.
  • Have no effect on property tax revenue collected by local governments.
  • Render moot the bill that would have created the new homestead exemption if the amendment had passed.

Florida Amendment 4 - Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

Wording on the Ballot:

Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections,
instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.

It is probable that the proposed amendment will result in additional state and local government costs to conduct elections in Florida. Overall, these costs will vary from election cycle to election cycle depending on the unique circumstances of each ballot and cannot be estimated at this time. The key factors determining cost include the number of amendments appearing for the second time on each ballot and the length of those amendments. Since the maximum state cost is likely less than $1 million per cycle but the impact cannot be discretely quantified, the change to the state’s budget is unknown. Similarly, the economic impact cannot be modelled, although the spending increase is expected to be below the threshold that would
produce a statewide economic impact. Because there are no revenues linked to voting in Florida, there will be no impact on
government taxes or fees.


News Coverage of the amendment:

Summary (in laymen's terms):

Requires voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election

Summary: Amendment 4 seeks to require that all proposed amendments and revisions to the Florida constitution be voted on and approved by 60% of voters in two consecutive general elections in order to pass. The current process allows an amendment to become part of the constitution after reaching 60% approval in one general election.

  • YES vote = You support requiring voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second consecutive general election to become effective.
  • NO vote = You oppose requiring voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second consecutive general election to become effective.

If this passes…

  • Voters’ ability to amend our constitution and act as a check on the state legislature when it fails to act in the best interest of Floridians will be significantly limited
  • Corporations and special interest groups that are well-funded will have second chances to defeat amendments that initially pass (with 60% of the vote)
  • Citizen initiatives will require significantly more time and money investments in order to successfully pass voter-led initiatives

Keep Our Constitution Clean, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Opponents: Southern Poverty Law Center, Common Cause, The League of Women Voters of Florida, ACLU, AFL-CIO, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Service Employees International Union, New Florida Majority, Florida Civic Engagement Table, Organize Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition

Orange County - Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Wording on the Ballot:

Shall the Orange County Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits rent increases for certain residential rental units in multifamily structures to the average annual increase in the Consumer Price Index, and requires the
County to create a process for landlords to request an exception to the limitation on the rent increase based on an opportunity to receive a fair and reasonable return on investment, be approved for a period of one

Summary (in laymen's terms):

If passed, the rent stabilization measure would cap many rents in the county to the rise in the consumer price index for one year. 

Orange County - Transportation System Surtax

Wording on the Ballot:

Shall a Charter County and Regional Transportation System Surtax at the rate of one percent (1%) be levied in Orange County, Florida for a period of 20 years with
revenue deposited into a trust fund dedicated exclusively to transportation and transit improvement uses authorized by law, with oversight and accountability for the revenue provided by a citizen oversight board and the elected comptroller, as approved by the Board of County Commissioners?

Summary (in laymen's terms):

Orange County is proposing a one-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation projects, infrastructure, technology, transit, and safety. The proposed surtax is projected to generate $600 million annually in County revenues, representing $11.9 billion over 20 years.