Politics And The Villages: Politico Article Highlights the Risks of Retiring Where Your Politics Are in the MinorityBest Retirement Towns and States
June 20, 2018 — The Nation’s Capital is buzzing about a new article from Politico Magazine on The Villages and its politics. The article provides an extensive and interesting discussion of politics in this giant active adult community in Central Florida. Its title, “Generation Pickleball: Welcome to Florida’s Political Tomorrowland,” foreshadows what its authors believe is coming for Florida’s electorate.
For four of five recent years The Villages has been the fastest growing metro in the country. And, in Politico’s political focussed article, it …”is Trump country, a reliably Republican, vocally patriotic, almost entirely white enclave that gave the president nearly 70 percent of the vote.” The area represents the future of the Republican party, and is considered to be the key to Gov. Rick Scott’s bid to unseat Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson, in the 2018 election.
The article makes many points. Depending on your politics, you might agree with some
or all of them. Although the focus is the 70% of its residents who voted for Donald Trump, there is also input from the 30% who might have voted for someone else. Not everyone who lives in The Villages is either a Trump supporter or a Republican. Many people probably don’t care either; they are too worn out from having fun to get worked up about politics.
Here are some of the major points made in the article (most of them political, since the source is Politico, a media outlet widely read among people for whom politics is a bloodsport). We believe you might find the article useful, because we know so many of our Members and Visitors see local politics as something they need to understand before they move into a community.
– Democrats in Florida might feel cheered by Puerto Rican voters migrating to the Sunshine State after Hurricane Maria, or registrations from high school students motivated by gun control. Not so fast, the authors contend: any potential Democratic surge in the Sunshine State could be countered by Republican-leaning seniors migrating here to enjoy warm winters and no state income taxes.
– The Villages has so many ways to have fun, politics or not. There are more than 100 miles of golf cart trails, dozens of golf courses, and it’s the pickleball capital of America, now America’s fastest-growing sport. There are 3,000 clubs on everything from belly dancing to ancestry, water exercises, softball leagues, karaoke, investments, travel, and dance.
– The development company that owns The Villages is solidly Republican. In fact the community is a “must stop” for any aspiring Republican Presidential candidate. The radio station and newspaper enthusiastically backs Trump. According to the article, in last February’s “Life Without Immigrants Day,” the company demanded in a memo “the names of any laborers who skipped work” to go on a list of “radical individuals” ineligible for employment. Also, the charter high school had to move its “March for Our Lives” event to a weekend because of the threats of student expulsions.
– Republicans outnumber Democrats by 2 to 1, and the former’s new registrations are 10 times those of Democrats. Fox News is the media choice of most residents.
– Some residents are upset by the presence of politics in a community built for fun. As one Democrat said in the article: ““The politics here are so horrible, I’m sick of fighting with my golf buddies.”
The Other Side – Where Democrats Reign
The Villages might be predominately Republican, and thus a tough sell for new residents with a progressive bent, but there are other retirement havens where the opposite rules. For example in a community that attracts retired clergy and non-profit managers like Pilgrim Place in Claremont (CA), a cohousing community, or a CCRC in a college town, Republicans might feel like they are the odd people at the table. The same goes for the liberal enclaves in most coastal towns in America, college towns, and urban areas.
Some insight from a young person and Washington insider
We asked a young friend based in Washington D.C. and for whom politics is very important, what he made of the Politico article. Here is part of what he told us: “Two things stick out to me. The first being this is a glaring example of the growing culture divide. Whether it is urban vs rural or Fox vs. MSNBC, people are retreating to their tribes and shutting out information that doesn’t fit their world view. The second issue, which is related, is the influence of the developer in all of this (e.g.; their actions favoring one side over the other and threats concerning immigrants and March for Our Lives protests). It could beg the question of TR readers, is this the kind of community that retirees increasingly want? And if so, is that really good for society? Is that the example they want to set for the next generation?” Solid points – thanks Andrew!
We are an increasingly polarized country, and that is a darn shame. While hopefully we will recover from that, in the meantime politics can be an important factor in choosing where we retire. If the communities you are looking at are tilted in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you need to know that and figure out if the plusses overcome any discomfort you might feel. We hope this article has increased your understanding of the issues in a helpful way. Finally, lets all try to be better listeners and more tolerant – and not retreat into our protective silos. Dialogue is good, lets all try to be less divisive and respect our friends and their opinions. Good friends are hard to find, let’s treasure the ones we have.
This is always trouble when we open up Blogs like this to Comments. Keep the preceding paragraph in mind! So let’s focus on one question: Could you move into a community where you know you would be in a political minority? Please share, respectfully, your thoughts and opinions on that question.
For further reading:
The Villages (our review)
Why The Villages is the Best Place for Len and Ann to Retire
Can a Yankee Find Retirement Happiness in the South