When I was a freshman at Stetson University, I walked into pol sci 101, American National Government class, wanting to be a doctor. As I read the syllabus of that class, taught by the indubitable and CNN Hero Dr. Anne Hallum by the way , I came across a quote- a quote that has stuck with me through every campaign, every white paper, every blog post, every protest, and every community organizing event I’ve ever been to:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
These folks are winning. Winning by bucking the trend, rattling some cages, and simply fighting for the middle class. Who’da thunk you could you create social change, win elections, and empower your local community by simply fighting for the people believe in rather than whats politically expedient. While elements in the FDP are chasing so-called moderates, independents, empty suits, and flip floppers to run for office hoarding Sugar, Disney and Big Gambling money while losing elections, the Orange County Progressive Community is creating change, finding candidates, registering new voters, sticking with the principles and values that make us Democrats, and guess what- they are winning.
Not only are they fighting the good fight on major issues paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage, gender equality, and gun reform they are progressing into an area that is at the root of creating change- local elections. By engaging with the citizenry on the local issues that effect their every day lives coalitions can be built to create even more social change and finding solutions to our community’s more pressing concerns.
This VOTE LOCAL project is a collaborative grassroots effort from the Orange Rising Coalition which includes: Black Women’s Roundtable, Community Business Association, Communication Workers of America 3108, Central Florida AFL-CIO, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Emerge USA, Equality Florida, Federation of Churches United to Serve, Fight for 15 Florida, Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Florida Consumer Action Network, Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment, Florida New Majority, Fraternal Order of Police Florida State Lodge, Mi Familia Vota, National Congress of Black Women, National Council of La Raza Action Fund, Organize Now, PICO United Florida, Transit Riders Union, UNITE HERE Local 362. This type of community organizing at the grassroots level amongst the progressive base of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is the first step in rebuilding a broken brand that has become synonymous with failing to turnout out its staunchest supports in off year, midterm cycles. Midterm cycles have proven to be epic failures time and again for Florida Democrats but in Orange County we are seeing the building blocks of a coalition that could work statewide in 2014 and 2018 if given the opportunity.
Wouldn’t it be great if the work that Orange County Progressive community and others are doing were done as collaborative field operation with the FDP as a way to rebuild and restabilize its base? Imagine if FDP had fully funded Orange Rising Coalition in every major city in Florida for outreach to some of strongest communities? Imagine if the state party actually led in this matter and forcing local parties, many of which have become glorified debating societies to act?
In the coming weeks we will highlight some of the initiatives throughout the state to engage progressives and build a winning coalition of like-minded groups on the left of the political spectrum.