A recent Associated Press article, which explained that registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in Florida, reveals the Democrats’ complete lack of ideas and foreshadows an even larger party decline in the next election.
Democratic leaders said they just had to “build the coalition of voters necessary to win” and simply “need more coordination with the national party”. Additionally, voters have been assured that “Florida is a competitive battleground in 2022” and that Democrats “have what it takes to take on” Gov. Ron DeSantis next fall. You rarely see such a pablum in the press.
The Florida Democratic Party is not competitive because it lacks ideas. No Democrat in the article offered anything that would improve the material condition of Floridians. Our lives are increasingly impoverished by crushing student debt, mediocre salaries, climate anxiety and a lingering sense of unhappiness that never really went away after the 2008 financial crash. Frankly, that unease is on the rise. even further, linked to the general collapse of confidence in American institutions.
Barack Obama was elected with a promise of “hope,” a promise that has never really been kept outside of Wall Street. Unsurprisingly, mired in desperation, many turned to Donald Trump, further dismissing the same with Hillary Clinton. Floridians also elected Ron DeSantis in 2018. In both cases, their politics and popularity is rooted in their ability to direct people’s frustration and anger towards an imaginary enemy: immigrants, critical race theory, mask mandates. and vaccine, whatever.
The depressing reality is that people have become so atomized that many of us are recruited into group projects because they provide a scapegoat for our existential suffering. Too many of us live on the razor’s edge of precariousness and, in the absence of solutions, the constant drumbeat of “enemies at the door” becomes a rallying cry and “Let’s Go Brandon” a touchstone. cultural. Unfortunately, due to a woefully inadequate two-party system and in the absence of any class consciousness or cultural cohesion, the only counter-power to this dystopian reality is an inept and visionless Democratic Party.
If the Florida Democratic Party is to become competitive again, voting against the GOP’s most nefarious policies is not enough. They need to gain votes and the confidence of voters. Look beyond urban centers and college towns for votes. They need to speak to people across this state and come up with real and meaningful solutions to the problems Floridians face.
For starters, they need to stop letting the GOP frame every debate and news cycle. When DeSantis teased the reinstatement of the Florida custody, the mouthed Democrats rushed to condemn it on the least charitable terms. Maybe the Florida Guard is worrying, but outside of elite circles and the news junkies, nobody cares. It’s an easy win for DeSantis: his base loves him for doing tut-tut and finger-wag of liberals hanging pearls while losing another news cycle. If Democrats want voters, they need to fire people and stop boring moral reprimands.
Instead, Democrats must fully embrace this state’s great moral flaws and fight to make people’s lives better. They need to get angry at the injustices we see and endure every day in our communities. Cut out virtue cues, boring discussion group language, and workshop talking points and really give yourself a break for once.
Start with frank solidarity with the United Faculty of Florida and the fight for free speech. Demand an apology from the University of Florida administration. Turn freedom of speech into an important political issue and stand with the union.
If Democrats want Floridians’ votes, they must reveal bold ideas worthy of our support. They should focus less on corporate donors and seek to galvanize the public. For a good cause, we will fight, volunteer and give en masse, if meaningful change seems possible.
There are morally compelling issues that can drive Floridians to the polls, here are a few. Commit to ending “Florida Man” stereotypes by expanding access to mental health services, implementing Housing First policies and enforcing “innocent until proven guilty” policy for identity photos. Create citizen review boards elected annually to provide democratic oversight of police budgets, policies and personnel. Commit to ending policies that effectively criminalize poverty. Fight for fair funding for our public schools.
If Democrats want to run in the Florida election, come up with plans to improve people’s material reality. If Democrats were offering more than just slowing impoverishment, they would win back at least one ally, although I suspect I’m not the only one.
Brian Bredehoeft lives in High Springs.
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