By Reesa Levy
I am a democrat, bona fide and proud. I vote democratic, knock on doors for democratic candidates, make hundreds of GOTV phone calls, and donate money to those democratic candidates I believe share both my ideals and concerns. I value my time and my work, therefore my expectation is that on those constantly decreasing times when we do succeed in getting Democrats into office, I will have a representative in government.
Unfortunately, this is currently not the case in Florida. For those of us following the voting records of our elected officials, we consistently experience surprise and dismay at what we read. Why would a Democrat vote for the continuation of Benghazi Hearings, a government funded Republican tool used to harass and discredit our best candidate for president? Why would a Democrat vote to indite Lois Lerner because she chose to use her Fifth Amendment right when being viciously attacked by Republicans? Why would any Democrat vote to weaken Dodd Frank, our hard earned legislation that protects us from banks and businesses? Why would a Democrat vote to a three-week extension in funding Homeland Security, when both the party and the president understood the immediate severity of not passing this funding? And how could any Democrat, from a state suffering from its own severe environmental problems, vote for the Keystone Pipeline? What we do not need is another Joe Manchin type senator to represent Florida-what we do need is a true Democratic senator who shares our values and belief in the party platform and votes consistently to make it happen.
If we immediately jump in to support a person solely because they can raise big money or successfully pander to Republicans, then we are knowingly and willingly abdicating our vote. We must question whether a candidate is more comfortable speaking in front of business leaders or is he or she equally at ease addressing income inequality. Does our person have the clear understanding that big oil and its enormous appetite for profits is not a national security issue, but a selfish self-interest? Where is the voice on common sense gun control laws and where is the leadership on this issue? Is it possible to disagree with your party and vote with Republicans 23% of the time and still understand and represent Democrats?
As Democrats and as Florida Democratic Party members we need a fair choice in the primaries and we need to have our concerns voiced. We should listen to other candidates who have declared. Let’s start by getting to know Pam Keith, a substantive candidate. Pam, an African-American woman, is a former JAG officer in the U.S. Navy and a seasoned attorney. She speaks French and Spanish. She has a solid understanding of the issues and formidable public speaking skills. Pam blends her skill as a trained advocate with the passion of a preacher and pitches her delivery perfectly to convey intelligence and zeal. She can appeal to a broad range of voters, and has none of the baggage attributable to others considering a run. Although, it remains to be seen if Pam Keith can parlay her substantial personal appeal into fundraising prowess and can create campaign machinery that will deliver on a statewide scale, she deserves that fair chance. And if or when this race becomes crowded with contenders, perhaps Pam Keith could rise above the fray as the candidate with the passion to truly advocate progressive ideas and to win over swing and centrist voters. That is the imagined democratic way. That is why we have primaries.
It would be refreshing for all Florida Democrats to buy into this 2016 election by choosing our candidates in a real and robust primary. Once we have selected our candidates together, we can and will unite to elect a formidable Democratic slate from our state. And hopefully, it will be these fairly elected leaders who will be on the forefront of moving our country forward for all of us in Florida and all of us across the nation.
Disclosure: TFS Editor-in-Chief Kartik Krishnaiyer has been advising Pam Keith’s Campaign