When The Florida Squeeze began publication in early 2013 the guiding mission was to give a progressive perspective on politics and other happenings here in Florida. The concept was to create a site that doesn’t engage in personality conflicts related to a party that is on a two-decade losing streak but to critically point out the many failing of how Democrats in this state operate and to hold people accountable for results. For the citizens of Florida, revitalizing a true two-party system is critical. Democrats have failed democracy and the state’s population by being so noncompetitive through the years outside of safe partisan areas. To me personally, the single biggest reason we need a revival of the Democrats in this state is to create that competitive two-party environment that gives our citizens a true choice and a safety valve against a GOP whose arrogance, cronyism and corruption have in mu opinion largely ruined the promise of what once was a dream state.
This appealed to some as our site traffic indicates but not to most politicos. This site has always been a labor of love, an opportunity cost worth maintaining. But it’s difficult to justify much of the time spent on certain subject areas any longer.
I continue to believe most active Democrats in Florida aren’t interested in the truth, but simply in protecting themselves, their access to “power” (whatever that is with a party that is a consistent loser) or whatever faction they belong to. That applies to establishment Democrats as well as to self-proclaimed progressives. Some progressives, including those who write for other websites are wed to a type of politics that revolves around personal attacks and artificial litmus tests. I’ve never wanted TFS to be grouped in with those types of folks, but unfortunately for many we have. These “progressives” are folks who operate like Chairman Mao’s enforcers in the Cultural Revolution – one day you’re an ally, the next day you are a counter-revolutionary because you liked the wrong Tweet or gave an unacceptable response on Facebook to something. Similarly, on the establishment side many will do anything imaginable to protect their kingdom even if it means continuing election losses. I’ve grown tired and jaded of the lip service coming from the party establishment about “changes being made,” and “this election cycle will be different.” Maybe 2018 will actually be different, but it won’t be because of the party based on what is being evidenced thus far.
People often ask why don’t you attack Republicans more on TFS? The answer is simply that almost nobody cares in the world of Florida Democrats. Whenever we publish work on the GOP, its excessive right-wing policies or hypocrisy they generate FAR less traffic than critiques directed at accountability of Democratic officeholders or the Democratic Party itself. It seems so many in our party live in a bubble, and while there’s a hunger for real talk on how to fix it, many of our articles just seem to create more acrimony and tribalism within the party. It at times gives aid and comfort to malcontents and gadflies with agendas that aren’t positive for the party or a progressive ideology while making little impact on those in power.
We’ve also staked out a position against shallow identity politics, arguing instead for listening and understanding the views of those we don’t live around, work with or associate with socially. For this I have been likened to an “Uncle Tom,” by some. This nastiness goes with the territory and I must say my view on identity politics is a bit conflicted as a proud South Asian but one who reveres the history and legacy of progressive Democrats from the rural south, Midwest and interior states, including admiring such luminaries as Sam Rayburn, Wright Patman, Mike Mansfield and Frank Church. However now in the last few months the nastiness has been over-the-top.
The recent developments around the HD-116 Special Election (a district Hillary Clinton carried by over five percentage points last November and an obvious pick-up opportunity) is the latest example of a party that is beset by internal infighting, poor decision making and just general ineptitude which sometimes is so over-the-top borders on what can only be reasonably viewed by outsiders as subconscious sabotage. In that race, a qualified progressive white Democrat from the area, Ross Hancock stepped aside at the party’s request despite lending his campaign $50,000. He was told the party had superstar candidate. Much to Hancock and everybody else’s surprise, the star candidate was Gabriela Mayaudon, who lived in Broward County, well outside the district and just registered to vote for the first time. The party paid her filing fee and according to Politicalcortadito.com she was a self-described “Republican” right before registering.
For me this is the last straw. A party that despite constant loses puts the ethnic and gender profile first and a candidate’s qualification, loyalty and ideology second isn’t an entity worth fighting to reform any longer. This is far from the first time this has happened for what it is worth. And it is clear that despite waxing lyrically about identity politics for ages, I haven’t had any impact in changing the tenor of the party or the thought processes of those making the decisions. The lack of proper vetting of candidates is also reminiscent of the Allie Braswell debacle four years ago and other similar failings of the party.
Unlike many (probably most) in the world of Florida Democratic politics, I believe in accountability. When people fail in the private or public sector in our society they have consequences to pay. The one place failure seems acceptable is within the Democratic Party, particularly in Florida. The culture here is one of constant failure, followed by pushing the blame onto others. This vicious cycle has become worse since the 2016 electoral debacle, to point where it is unbearable. I must conclude that this website has failed to positively change the behavior of the Democratic Party or its leaders, who often use our critiques as an excuse to marginalize those who they feel we associate with or to circle the wagons to protect specific vendors or consultants. I haven’t made my critiques to get attention, increase business or to settle personal scores. That might be difficult for those in the political class to understand as all three of those points tend to characterize many within the Democratic Party’s establishment and activist bases. The goal of this site hasn’t been to create acrimony but to fix problems associated with the party and progressive movements. I feel we have fallen short of my hope to accomplish such a thing.
Within the party and left-leaning circles, guilt by association seems to be the order of the day. Factionalism has invited the creation of cliques which police conversations with those deemed “suspicious” by certain politicos without being put on the defensive themselves. The internal battles define us, not the actual work with the outside world and the citizens of Florida that this party continues to let down each and every day thanks to two decades of consistently poor election results. Florida is a clear case of democracy derailed but the wounds have been largely self-inflicted by the opposition party, not due to some military junta or coup creating the circumstance where a single party rules the state with an iron fist reminiscent of Soviet Russia.
The Democratic Party is a mess. But the personality-driven politics of the party is making matters worse, and taking the party down a road where its minority status now resembles a bunch of elementary school kids at a lunch table fighting over the final container of Sunny Delight within the school premises. Until those associated with various interests related to party can agree to listen one another or to behave as civil adults I see no point in continuing to cover Florida Democratic Party politics.
So for now I am stepping away from covering party politics or Democratic Party happenings at this site. Our other writers will continue to cover party and progressive politics and I might when I feel so inclined chime in. I’ll continue to contribute historical pieces, coverage of the legislature and other news related to our great state. National and international politics and goings on in the legislature or country governments will still be a focus My sincere hope is that this will serve as a wake up call to all those who put personal grievances and individual status/ego above the greater good. My parting thought on this party for now is for everyone on our side of the aisle in Florida: If you can’t get over the pettiness and personal acrimony, or insist on feeding at the trough instead of sacrificing for the greater good, perhaps you really don’t deserve a seat at the table. But most at the table fit those descriptions I have determined.
Ultimately despite the critiques I articulate in writing, I am a far more agreeable and pragmatic person that some may believe – I believe in progressive policies but also personal consensus. I have a belief in building coalitions and more importantly than anything listening to folks without condemning those who don’t agree with us as “deplorables,” “racists,” or whatever else. I do believe that it’s important to call out those on the left who have ties to corporate interests that impact the way they govern or approach issues. That will never change. What I do decry is despite my vocal opposition to them the false equivalency that ,many apply which compares these types of Democrats to Republicans – I’ve been guilty of fanning those flames with the likes of Patrick Murphy and Gwen Graham among others and deeply regret the results and how certain articles were interpreted and manipulated. Pointing out how Murphy and Graham don’t always live up to Democratic ideals was my intent – not to give some on the left cover to imply their Republican opposition was somehow similar or superior. In rare instances a Democrat is not worth electing over a Republican. But most of the instances where progressives now feel that way aren’t quite the case they make it out to be from I sit. My bigger concern is the number of corporate Democrats being nominated in party primaries in safe urban and suburban area legislative seats. To me that is a MUCH bigger issue than the nomination of someone like Murphy or the potential nomination of Graham, yet most progressives aren’t as vocal about that problem. The sexiness of statewide races drives the conversation – I understand that. But the importance of local races should drive the actions of progressives and it doesn’t always come out this way.
We’re always open to reader input into what sort of subjects you’d like to see covered here. Substantive subjects – not personality conflicts. We’d love to hear from you, those who have supported us for so long. Thank you as always for supporting us!
TFS will continue and we once again invite our readers and interested party stakeholders to leave comments on how we can help foster a more positive dialogue that lead to better results and ultimately better behavior among all parties.