This is the Fight We've Been Looking For

For decades, since well before the progressive movement gained national attention and serious momentum in 2016, progressives in Florida have been asking for a chance. Election after election, we’ve watched as well-funded, pedigreed, status quo centrists have run and lost, all the while we’ve begged to let us run someone who leans into labor, who leans into environment protection, who leans into our values.

After 2016 we stopped begging, and now we have that chance.

Andrew Gillum won the Democratic primary on the back of a tsunami of allied organizing force. Progressive partners and community groups have campaigned ceaselessly to raise voter awareness, to register folks to vote, and to increase the voter turnout. Volunteers printed their own campaign materials and walked door to door in their own neighborhoods. Progressives inside the Democratic Party infrastructure worked ceaselessly to ensure the Party didn’t tip the scales, making sure that the voters decide this race.

What that effort gave us is a chance now to test our claim. For decades we’ve been asking for a fight, and now we have it. If we can do the work to bring Gillum to victory in November, it will be a ringing endorsement of our belief that Floridians respond to authenticity, values, and a people-first message. Party insiders will be forced to admit that there may be something to our strategic claims, and we’ll have an unprecedented opportunity to enact policies that will have transformative effects on Floridians’ lives.

But this is an all-in, do or die moment. If Mayor Gillum loses in November, we’re saddled with a Trumpite Republican for four years, and the progressive movement in Florida will be set back a decade. Democratic Party operatives and candidates will entrench deeper into the old Blue Dog thinking, and Republicans will continue their disastrous one-party rule. Republicans will double-down on their attacks on public education and women’s bodily autonomy. They’ll continue their tragic refusal to stem the tide of gun violence, their failed hard enforcement solutions to the opioid crisis, their fleecing of the poor in favor of the rich and corporations. Democrats won’t be able to develop a coherent, promising counter-proposal, and the vast majority of us will suffer for it.

The solution is to keep up what we’ve been doing. We need to ensure that the vast operations of the state’s Democratic establishment understands the kind of politics we’re doing and that they get on-board. We need to continue the distributed, decentralized, community-first style of campaigning that marked Mayor Gillum’s landmark primary campaign. We need to avoid a top-down, command-and-control campaign apparatus and allow citizens to talk to their neighbors without interference from Washington, DC operatives who don’t know our communities. Democratic Party organs need to get and stay on-message, and they need to work aggressively on get out the vote and voter registration efforts. We need to allow our progressive partners in labor and community advocacy to do their work and mobilize their members.

If we can do all that, we will win. We will offer a compelling, credible opportunity to change Florida’s political landscape and we will make a huge dent in the monolithic power of the Republican Party. If we can just do that, we will win in November, and we’ll win the fight we’ve been asking for.