The Villages no longer Florida’s Friendliest Hometown

Miles Zaremski

Back in March, this site published my commentary on how Trump had become a clear and present danger to Villagers.

It drew, if memory serves me correctly, over 300 comments, some of which showed such hostility as if to suggest I was preaching the taking of a resident’s first born grandchild (I wasn’t). But at the time, we only had to be concerned about the health and safety of our community due to preventing the spread of COVID-19. We did not have to confront the events of recent days that have painted this retirement community with the words circulated worldwide, and certainly in every major media outlet across the country: “White Power”; Trump’s re-tweeting it, and it even it becoming prominent in Biden’s July 3 attack ad. Not good news at all!

But the above are all the symptoms without getting at the underlying illness. Sure, there are decent, honest, certainly caring and law-abiding residents on both sides of the political isle here, but with those supporting Trump given, in this writer’s opinion, all his despicable, tasteless and less than honest ways —and as if he is giving license to those that want to conduct themselves the same way as the golf cart driver did with the two words he mouthed — in no sense can the adjective used for The Villages in all its promotional literature and advertisements, “friendliest hometown,” be accurate. Recent national writings have used the words “civil war” and “powder keg” in describing what is happening here, and that is more accurate than not.

I recently did an inexact and certainly non-statistically accurate survey of some residents, asking why the open hostility in actions and in words being shown by those that support the country’s president against those that oppose him in all his ways. Yes, I admit I am in the latter category but as an independent voter.  Responses included “fear,” losing control to others not like them; not wanting to separate reality from Trump’s less than honest showmanship [(his latest coming last night when he spoke at the White House to supposedly celebrate the 4th, saying 99 percent of the Coronavirus cases were “harmless” (and in light of Florida becoming the new epicenter for this health holocaust and the nearly 130,000 that have died and 2.8 million infected, would supporters here still believe that message?)]; and that he is leading a cult.

Regardless, if you didn’t know anything about The Villages except for what you have heard and read in recent days, a perception exists that, again despite good and decent folks that live here, maybe it has finally come out into the open that the area is maybe, possibly, a petri dish for bigotry and racism, particularly given the community’s demography, average age, and skin color.  Perceptions take years to build up, but only days to be undone.

Yes, those that oppose Trump are not boy and girl scouts either.  Part of the video at issue showed opponent(s) that used four letter words against those parading in their golf carts, which is certainly equally unbecoming and distasteful.  But isn’t it human nature to bully a bully, viz, when someone supports a president that moves and makes fun of disabled people as Trump has done; when he disparages Gold Star families; seems to support racists attitudes like what occurred in Charlottesville; perhaps looking the other way when knowing Russia was paying bounties to have our service women and men killed in Afghanistan; or telling us he wants to preserve health insurance for our pre-exisiting conditions when he is a party in a pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court that wants to rid the country of the entire Affordable Care Act, including its protections for those with such conditions, ask yourselves, how would you respond to someone supporting this president?

It is not solely going to be up to those that oppose Trump — which is a swelling and resilient population in The Villages — to make this community a continued comfortable place to live and in which to retire; it is going to be up to folks realizing that perhaps when they voted to put Trump in office over three years ago now, it has become a mistake and that his election, as if considered an “experiment” by electing someone outside of politics in office, has failed.

But until the day comes when the forces we see jousting with one another put down their placards and verbal assaults of one another, The Villages cannot be, and will not deserve to have the moniker, the “friendliest hometown.” Residents – and the Developer – it is now all up to you going forward.

Miles Zaremski is a resident of the Village of Dunedin.

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