Don’t get it twisted. The ousting of Minority Leader Daryl Rouson and the subsequent election of Progressive Champion Mark Pafford to the same position is huge news. No. It’s a BFD. It proves what many of us have already known: the progressive movement in Florida is spreading statewide like a central Florida dry season brush fire. The longtime centrist and Republican light FDP establishment has begun to accept that the party’s future lies in its progressive grassroots not in the deep pockets of conservative donors-that progressive champions like Representative Pafford are the leaders our party must embrace and empower if we desire to repair the damage done to our dear Florida via the Republican Party’s stranglehold on power in Tallahassee.
The election of such a strong progressive like Mark Pafford is not an isolated incident. The progressive movement inside the Democratic Party has been making strides all over the Sunshine State- most notably in the South Florida and Central Florida. The 2012 election cycle brought us progressive State Senators Bullard, Clemens, and Thompson and progressive State Representatives in Joe Saunders. Additionally, Progressives won huge victories by killing controversial constitutional amendments that would have allowed for state funds for religious organizations, restricted abortion rights, and prevented state government from setting up Obamacare Health Exchanges even though the amendment would not have supplanted the federal law .
The future of the Florida Democratic Party lies with our core values, ideals, and principles. Not with our ability to co-opt Republican ideas and cast offs. We are a party built on a foundation of inclusion not exclusion, equality not inequality, and yes, progress not stagnation or regression. We share the belief that no Floridian should have to wait seven hours to cast a ballot nor have to endure an endless political attack on our voting rights from Governor Scott and the RPOF. We also share the belief that our education system deserves the highest of standards and the fullest of resources not to be at the frontline of draconian budget cuts put forth by Governor Scott. We stand with the Dream Defenders and echo calls for change in our gun laws. We reject the status quo that has made it easier to purchase a firearm in Florida than to find quality health care. We understand that Florida’s future cannot be built with jobs of the past like the minimum wage jobs Governor Scott and the RPOF are taking credit for creating. We know our future is built on the back of infrastructure, next generation transportation systems, state of the art schools, clean and renewable energies, and yes, a stable and accessible health care system.
So here we are Florida Progressives. Our grandest of opportunities. We know that Mark Pafford is the middle class champion and leader that Floridians need and deserve but he can’t do it alone. Florida’s Future Florida is not only in our sights, the future is here. The future is now. . Congratulations to Mark, the Florida Democratic Party and the progressive community on what is, the grandest of opportunities. The opportunity to bring the change our great state so desperately needs.