There is truly no defeat the Florida Democratic Party will avoid snatching from the hands of victory. Donald Trump has turned the Republican Party radioactive. His polling numbers are plummeting right alongside the GOP as a whole. And the nation is seeing a groundswell of progressive activism at levels not witnessed since the 1960s.
So how does the new, incoming brass running the Florida Democratic Party respond? By telling constituents that “issues” don’t matter and that it’s not the party’s job to focus on policies that will actually help anyone, like single-payer health care.
Last night, the party’s new second-in-command, Sally Boynton Brown, spoke in front of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County. And throughout the exchange, she steadfastly refused to commit to changing the party’s economic or health-care messaging in any concrete way.
“This is not going to be popular, but this is my belief of the time and place we’re in now: I believe that we’re in a place where it’s very hard to get voters excited about ‘issues,’ the type of voters that are not voting,” Brown said.
Brown, the former executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, was hired last month to take over for the outgoing executive director, Scott Arceneaux. Last night was her first encounter with local progressives, who are already disgruntled after Stephen Bittel — a billionaire real-estate developer, gas station franchiser, environmental dredging company executive, and major political donor — was elected to serve as party chair earlier this year. Many progressives accused him of buying his way into the job via campaign donations.
And Brown’s speech perfectly illustrates why the Florida Democratic Party (and the party in general) can’t seem to get out of its own way and actually win elections.
How important is it for candidates to concentrate on “issues” like health care or economic equality, one audience member asked. Her answer? Not very. She said candidates moving forward should focus on “identity messages” instead, which she didn’t actually define.
In a follow-up question, she also warned party members not to get too excited about turning districts from Republican to Democrat and said the best we ought to hope for is that Florida becomes more “purple.” (She also said she was proud about not supporting either candidate in the 2016 Democratic primary, which is an odd sort of thing to boast about as a Democratic Party leader.)
Later in the meeting, she then said that people who are struggling to make ends meet — and often decline to vote because they say it doesn’t matter — do not vote based on “issues” they care about and instead vote because they are “emotional beings.” She added that people apparently skip voting because they’ve somehow forgotten about the “power of democracy,” whatever that means.
She also said that taking money from large corporations such as Florida Power & Light could somehow be a good thing — and that the…