I'm Pretty Sure We're Winning
In today's vote for FDP Chair, structural conservative and Palm Beach County DEC Chair Terrie Rizzo beat my preferred candidate, Stacey Patel, 830 weighted votes to 291. It definitely felt like a blow: a lot of good people did a lot of good work to try to win for Stacey, and it's hard to do anything but feel vaguely betrayed by the consultant class and the pre-vote capitulation of Alma Gonzalez.
But there's a little too much defeatism in the air, and not enough perspective. A year ago, a billionaire forced his way into the FDP Chair with absolutely zero reference to the popular will. He did so with the aid of the pure political blunt force of some of Florida's more toxic consultants, and he did so while promising more of the same kind of politicking and Democratic ideology that gave us the predictable losses of Hillary Clinton and Patrick Murphy.
Today, there were three candidates for FDP Chair. Every single one of them openly disavowed the consolidation of power into the consultant class, every single one of them articulated a need for community-driven, grassroots politics, and every single one of them advocated a clear platform for values-based messaging coming from the Party.
I always believed--and still believe--that Stacey Patel is the most likely to fully deliver on those promises. I believe that she was the only candidate with the transformational competency to oppose the status quo, and that she was the only one deeply ideologically committed to that agenda.
But we have shown that our theory of change--one of values and people before tactics and backroom deals--has popular currency. The next FDP Chair, Terrie Rizzo, has been backed into a political corner where she absolutely must capitulate to some of our structural demands. She obviously won't do so as competently and completely as Stacey Patel would have, but she will. I'm reasonably confident that she knows that it's now political suicide in the context of the Florida Democratic Party to cede additional control to elitist powers without a connection to the mobilized base.
My point here is that while today was a loss, the whole frame of this election was a grander victory. The needle has been pushed. And not just a little, but in a way where we are having a deeply and importantly different conversation about our politics than we were a year ago.
Which is why I said what I said at the end of my last blog post about this race: I'm prepared to work under FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. In fact, I think it's critical that true progressives--those sufficiently far left to openly reject Neoliberalism and the toxic order it represents--dig in hard and continue to work. We are building power, and it's showing. We must continue to accumulate victories and to elevate our peers, we must continue to implement our shared vision of what a People's Democratic Party looks like, and to succeed on the execution of that vision. Just like we've been doing, and just like how we were able to change this dialogue.
We're winning. We haven't won, but we're winning. We are pushing back the tide of mediocrity that has defined our Party ideology and strategy for more than a decade. This is not the time to walk away in frustration. This is time to view our theories of change as affirmed, and to keep doing our hard work.