See the full Flickr album of photos here.
The “Florida Deserves Better” than Fantasyland action was held Tuesday, June 2 outside of the hotel where Rick Scott held his “cattle call” for GOP candidates to strut their campaigns in front of monied-up interests like the Chamber of Commerce and their members. Billed as an “insider” event, it was never meant to be a big attention-getter. This gathering was held to stuff money into pockets as discreetly as is possible in Florida.
Inside the hotel, GOP the presidential candidates were calling dibs on the future of our country. I’m sorry if that sounds hyperbolic, but it’s the truth. There’s only a few pots of money left to extract money from: Social Security, healthcare and worker security are the last frontiers of Corporate Greed, and judging by the post-summit press, all three were being negotiated.
The economic summit provided the pretext where the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Disney could sidle up and take a nice long gander at their bought-and-paid for Republican presidential candidates. Maybe buy them a drink. Invite them up to the room.
On their agenda: reducing corporate tax rates, increasing the retirement age for Social Security benefits, and scaling back spending on Medicaid and Medicare. Clown Car occupants promised to deliver for their masters on all these policy issues, and more. There were dire warnings about “printing money,” and other austerity talk about how we needed to “tighten our belts,” and by “our” they didn’t mean “theirs.”
And there we were — real Floridians — having to stand at “The Crossroads” of a suburban shopping mall, with this AWESOME boat…chanting, holding signs, sweating to get our message across. Well, the jokes on them because we had a great time.
“We work, we sweat, put 15 on our checks.”
Outside, the impressively diverse coalition of social justice groups came from up and down the I-4 Corridor, including Organize Now, Fight for 15, Mi Familia Vota, Florida Climate Action, SEIU, Young American Dreamers, Young Dems (and some older Dems), I think I even saw a Green or two. There were many who were still coming as I was leaving, and quite a few I noticed who came solo because they saw the Facebook notice. I’d say more than 100 people turned out over the course of the event.
If this is what the I-4 Coalition looks like early summer 2015, it’s going to be a beast this time next year. It was a good time, too. Folks had a lot to share. Lots of catching-up was done. There were new chants, and for the first time — drums. Good lord, there should never not be drums at these things. I was having so much fun, I had to remind myself to leave and get some work done.
I’m seriously bringing the cowbell next time.
As always I enjoyed talking to Daniel Barajas with Young American Dreamers who is trying to raise money for a July 4 visit to veterans who’ve been deported to the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, Mexico. Yes, you read that correctly: “These deported veterans are still eligible for VA healthcare and assistance, however unable to receive it due to not being allowed to enter the U.S. to keep their appointments. However, upon their death, their lifetime deportations are over, & their remains are finally allowed to return to be buried with military honors.”
Let that irony set in and please check out Daniel’s efforts here for more information.