The Democratic Party is corroding from the inside— rotten at its core. Will it survive the corporatist excesses of the Clinton era as a vehicle for the aspirations of America’s working families? Can a party that celebrates “leaders” like Rahm Emanuel, Debbie Wassermann Schultz, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer and Joe Crowley be a home for real people? Writing last week about the Florida Democratic Party, our old friend Kartik Krishnaiyer pointed out that the party “has long shared the internal behavior of collapsing businesses, declining empires or nation-states as well as losing sports teams in that decisions are often made based more personality, sentiment and factionalism than on competence, accomplishment and merit.
In Florida that means garbage political hacks like— first and foremost— Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and other self-serving careerists from Alcee Hastings and Joe Garcia to renegade opportunistic Republicans like Patrick Murphy and Charlie Crist. The party has acclimated itself to losing and losing and losing and the party “leaders” care nothing about anything except each of their own pitiful little ghettoized pieces of turf.
Referring to a bitter battle over control of the moribund party, Krishnaiyer warns that “whomever assumes control of the Florida Democratic Party is going to inherit a wounded animal – one whose infrastructure and effectiveness has long since waned. Florida Democrats have lost 17 of the last 20 statewide races and 17 of the last 18 statewide cabinet races – a record which is comparable to that of deep red states in the interior of the country. The new chair will also inherit a party with a progressive wing that does not trust the establishment, and an insider clique largely based in Tallahassee who routinely does lobbying business with Republicans despite representing themselves at election time as dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. The party is cracked, even fractured.”
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is one of the few bright lights in the Florida Party. Andrew’s a fighter and part of the future of the party if it’s going to have one. He’s he’s being personally sued by the gun manufacturers’ lobbyists at the NRA. “In 2014,” he wrote, “as a Tallahassee City Commissioner, my colleagues and I refused to repeal ordinances that prevent shooting guns in a public park.
Because of our actions that day, and our commitment to the safety of our citizens, my fellow locally elected officials and I are facing fines of $5,000 per vote, damages up to $100,000, and the potential to be removed from our elected jobs by the Governor of Florida. We have also been forced to find our own lawyers to defend us in Court.”
Although nobody should be against these types of common sense laws, this lawsuit isn’t about guns. It’s about huge special interests, in this case the National Rifle Association (NRA), spending big money to take away local voices and local control, using tactics called preemption and super-preemption.
It’s also about how these special interests and corporations, after getting their way with state government, are trying to intimidate and bully local communities by filing damaging lawsuits against officials like me. Like your local commissioners. Like your local councilmembers. Like your Mayor. And like you.
It’s wrong, it’s cowardly, and unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse; especially in places with far-right conservative state governments.
But we are fighting back in Florida.
At trial, we have challenged the constitutionality of the laws that are being used to attack our local communities and officials. We have carried that fight to the First District Court of Appeals of Florida, and are set to hear Oral Argument on January 10, 2017.
We have had great support in this effort from state and national partners, and we hope to set a precedent for challenging these “super-preemption” overreaches. Our partners recognize that if these threats are deployed today by the gun lobby, there’s nothing stopping special interests from coming after protections for immigrants, the LGBT community, the environment, and others.
We want to stand up to these bullies everywhere they show up.
That’s why I am officially launching a nonpartisan, grassroots effort to bring together individuals, organizations, and elected officials concerned about the erosion of local rights.
This effort, the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, will send a message to state lawmakers, and give citizens around the country the tools to push back against special interest groups and large corporations, and maintain their right to put forward local solutions to the issues facing their community.
We will hold events to rise against looming threats on issues like minimum wage and health benefits, the environment, local hiring practices, and water quality.
We will help bring awareness and support to similar fights being undertaken by local officials across the country that are fighting to defend local solutions.
And we will elevate the voices and narratives of these efforts, so that no attempt to bully or intimidate local communities around the country will ever be tolerated.
A good reason we need a vibrant two-party political system, don’t you think? Too bad the Wasserman Schultzes and have thought nothing about anything other than their own nasty little power preserves.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis