Democrats in Broward failing the eye test at “grassroots” efforts

PrintThis Labor Day Weekend political leaders from around Broward County gathered at the annual labor ball. While organized labor is supposed to represent the common working women and men, the labor ball seems to represent each and every year a political shindig that only elites and those connected to powerful interests, usually within the Democratic Party can afford to attend. The average ticket price for the ball was somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 which is outrageous.

Organized labor is something I have always supported in my own way. For example, I’ve never used an Uber service, visited the company website or downloaded the app. I continue to use regular, unionized taxi services when I travel, and have no plans to ever use Uber unless the company changes its business practices. Also, for years, I avoided non-union airlines though eventually it became difficult to avoid jetBlue living in the Fort Lauderdale area. Of course, jetBlue is now a unionized carrier but for many years it was not. I have tried to avoid flying on Boeing planes built in South Carolina rather than Washington state, for the same reason.  I will admit though I have never had a GM or Ford car, but as I referenced above I have tried to support labor when possible.

However, the leadership of labor in many ways has become more distant from the working people in this state and more involved and tied to political factions and Democratic Party politics than anything else. The Broward labor ball cost illustrated that for me once again. In many cases public employee unions are dominating the labor agenda in the state and while I tend to agree with them on most issues, I don’t have the same sympathy for them I do for private sector unions.

Meanwhile the Broward County Democratic Party will be hosting a “Get out the Vote” Fundraiser on Thursday. Minimum donation is $100. The Broward party does need to be applauded for attempting to raise money. The coffers of the local party in the large county that historically produces the largest Democratic margins in the state have been running dry for many years. The party is so broke that last month, they had to lay off one of two remaining paid staffers.

However, it is interesting to see the host committee for this event which is related to “get out the vote” efforts is largely made up of lobbyists and elected officials. The minimum price for this event makes it cost prohibitive for the types of grassroots activists that the party needs to be engaged and excited about the 2016 election.

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This fundraiser mirrors the expense involved in even attending dinners or luncheons for local Democratic clubs in Broward County. Many of these clubs have in time become private fiefdoms of individuals or political factions making little or no effort to engage Democrats in the local municipalities they represent. This is not the case with all Democratic clubs but is with a good number of them.

Fundraising is an important component of political activity no doubt in this day and age. But the Democratic Party which is reliant on the energy and enthusiasm of working people to be successful seems in many ways to be more distant than ever from those on the grassroots level. It’s one thing for the FDP or DNC to be off in the clouds to a certain extent as they represent larger population areas. However, for county parties and local Democratic clubs to make participation in big events cost prohibitive for most of the members they represent is an unwise political strategy. For the unions it is especially distasteful given the types of people and issues they fight for.


  1. Good article though I’m very disappointed you glossed over the dismissal of Michael Howson by the Broward Acting Chair Cynthia Busch. Racism and maybe even homophobia played a role in this.


    1. I doubt it was homophobia. More like Cynthia things she can do the job herself. She’s sorely mistaken as people will soon learn.


  2. Good article. More attention should be paid to the entirety of the story around Howson’s hiring and firing. It makes little sense; if not homophobia or racism, then at a minimum favoritism/nepotism played a very strong role in that decision at the expense of the party as a whole.


  3. Barbara Miller · ·

    The Broward DEC host list is made up of those who believe in grassroots campaigns. The money raised will be spent to organize efforts to engage voters and get out the vote to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. The Labor Day picnic today is a great opportunity for all Democratic activists to participate. It is free and open to all.


  4. This is a good article. But I do echo the sentiments that the scandal around Howson’s firing has been overlPoked by Kartik and now simply glossed over in this article. His firing wasn’t financial it was a combination of he being black in a lily white party that is getting more elitist than ever with cynthia replacing mitch.

    Financial issues? Why wasn’t the crony Travis Perron who has little local value not let go instead? The answers are obvious?


  5. Maybe Howson wasn’t good at his job and Perron is? Cynthia Busch is a new chair with new ideas. She needs to be given the chance to shape her own party. Mitch Caesar left a mess.


  6. Howson’s firing and the retention of Perron was borderline criminal. Busch the new chair didn’t even give it a day!

    Busch is a suburban elitist plain and simple. A rich housewife with no understanding of the real grassroots of the party. That OFA stuff was elitism personified in many ways.


  7. Dems in Action · ·

    FDP also has events that only the elite can attend. The convention, which is $219 a night per room, and the dinner at $175 is just the beginning of the cost. Add food and drink (even non-alcoholic) only add to the cost and the real GOTV people are left behind.


    1. I don’t disagree with your complaint on costs for the convention, but don’t let that stop you if you want to attend the training and exchange ideas with other Dems. You can get a cheaper room off Disney. I’ll send you info if you are interested. And you don’t have to buy the meal tickets. Although the big night may be worth your while, to see presidential candidates that show up. You may get to shake the hand of the first woman or first socialist president of the US.


      1. It’s absurd that the party has this dog and pony show no one calls out every two years. Grassroots activists are asked to fork money out hand over fist for an event that is largely worthless. It’s a weekend long fraternity party for all intents and purposes. It is insulting the FDP never does anything more cost effective for those who work hard for the party every election cycle.


      2. Mark Lynn · ·

        I was a Delegate to the FDP Conventions in 89 & 91. The first in Hollywood, FL, the other at Lake Buena Vista. I never stayed at the convention hotel, nor did I go to the banquets or breakfasts & still had a great & memorable time. In 91 I got to meet Gov. & Mrs. Bill Clinton (whom I was a delegate for), plus Bob Kerrey, Paul T., Tom Harkin, Gene McCarthy & a guy named Charles Woods, presidential candidates all. I can’t recall many of my friends & activists from Dade actually staying at the resort. My advice is go find a Motel 6 nearby (you wont spend much time there anyway) & stop by Mickey D’s or Shoney’s on your way to the convention site. Go have a good time with your fellow Dems & network and exchange ideas.


  8. Cynthia is an elitist. Typical suburban white of privledge who only interacts with African Americans when necessary.


  9. same crapola in the other county DECs who only deal in fund-raising without explanation and lotsa self-aggrandizement for the executives – we are leaving our mass of voters behind – to say that these fund-raisings are to get money to support or the Demo feet-on-the-street campaigners is plain out and out B.S – we need leaders now – not absentees who go visiting up north all summer – or other long time gone travel – I know of no street worker who has either seen a buck-or-two from this pot, but used only for the traveling – and other expenses – of our leaders – we Democrats desperately need to see and hear and to know our leaders – I, for one am reaching the end of my rope and getting ready to operate as an INDEPENDENT DEMOCRAT –


  10. dianecbrown · ·

    Kartik, have you ever had a headline that didn’t slam Democrats?


    1. He’s too nice to the Democrats all too often. After the election when everyone else was going nuclear he was like “oh we lost everything but blame the DNC not FDP!” Yeah right, here in Florida losing 12-15 State House races in districts Charlie Crist won was the DNC’s fault! LOL.

      He is too kind to the party honestly. Even this article contains the idiotic caveat “oh Democrats need to raise money BUT” Forget the needing to raise money and the but, this whole elitism in the party STINKS.


  11. Great article Kartik! Couldn’t agree more, although this also applies to the RNC. Most politicians are out of touch with the people they represent. How else do you explain the Trump Phenomena? Was out and about most of this day and spoke with a lot of “common” folks. They were all working and one employee working at a Billion $$ Industry turned to me and stated “What is Labor Day?” He had no choice but to work. Also saw the garbage trucks out and about along with most service workers. They get paid very little thanks to NAFTA ,usually work two and three jobs and get very little respect from the “Elite.” They deserve much more and I for one thank them. Where would we be without them? Thanks again for a great article and hopefully next year they will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with family and friends!


  12. Jessica Winter · ·

    Ok Kartik. Wasn’t it to your wife that Busch made the comment that she lived in “white Plantation” but her kids were going to have to go to schools with Hispanics? Wake up, and see her for what she truly is. A degree in art isn’t very useful so she manipulates people to pay her for campaigns. Obama and the CSC-she did neither out of the goodness of her heart.

    Ask your wife what else she told her.




  14. The FDP and the DNC are totally out of touch with the Grassroots. We need change and that will only come with President Sanders and a complete house cleaning.


  15. Mike Coleman · ·

    Fundraising is an unpleasant task for any nonprofit civic entity and Broward’s Democratic Party is faced with the task of having profitable events in order to build a war chest large enough to make it’s future brighter.

    When someone schedules a fundraiser they have to find a way to achieve their financial goal.
    Major consideration’s are the venue capacity and the amount of money needed to meet the goal.
    Many times these two considerations are the major reason that ticket prices rise above the point that exceeds the average Grassroots Democrat’s budget.

    This is a sad reality but it is an existing condition that must be perpetually contended with.
    Something every one who reads this Blog needs to understand is there are 554,272 registered Democrats in Broward County.

    Without knowing the largest operating budget the Broward DEC has ever had I can safely assume that budget never equaled $1 per registered Democrat. I would venture that is was more like $0.30 (thirty cents) per Democrat per year for the Broward DEC to conduct it’s Voter Outreach, GOTV, pay a Staff and operate an Office complete with all the costs associated with running an organization responsible for leading over a half million people.

    I strongly urge everyone to consider the realities of operating 21st century political entities with an income that doesn’t even equal the cost of a first class stamp per person.

    Cynthia Busch is now tasked with the job of finding the funding to run the County Party and managing each and every task that job entails.
    Imagine what the Broward Democratic Party can do for Democrats running in Statewide Elections with better funding.

    Consider that in the past three General Elections 2010,2012,2014 the winning margin for either the Presidency or the Governorship in Florida has been less than 74,000 votes and in 2008, which was the last year there was a winning margin greater than 100,000 votes, Broward County Democrats delivered a county margin of about 255,000 votes in a state with a Democratic winning margin of about 234,000 votes.

    I happen to believe every reader of this Blog has a great interest in politics and the vast majority here want to see Democrats win elections.

    Elections are hard work and grassroots political activists are very valuable to every party they donate their time and energy towards.

    I hope that tonight’s Fundraiser is successful and I hope that Cynthia Busch can plan more fundraisers including ones that the average Grassroots Democratic Activist can afford and will want to attend. I also hope that many major donors who generally do not donate to local DEC’s come to understand that the jobs that many Florida DEC’s have been doing their job with funding that is less than the cost of a single First Class Stamp per Democrat within their county.

    Imagine what the Broward DEC, or and Florida DEC, can accomplish with a sustained budget of $3 per registered Democrat.

    That total would allow DEC’s to operate their Voter Outreach on a continual basis which would enlarge Democratic voter registration and build huge Vote By Mail populations that regularly have turnout rates that far exceed any other method of voting.


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