On January 27, 2021, Florida Senate Republicans approved a resolution in committee denouncing democratic socialism 4–2 on a party line vote. In response, the undersigned Florida chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America denounce Florida’s political establishment and its failure to respond to the COVID–19 crisis, and invite all Floridians who believe a better world is possible to join our vibrant, nationwide movement.
The Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee’s tired Cold War rhetoric would be good for a laugh if Floridians weren’t currently experiencing the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes. Presided over by some of the most craven politicians in the United States, the COVID crisis has now killed more than 26,000 Floridians, with another 1.7 million others infected before we know the long-term effects of a still-mysterious disease. Many more job and housing-insecure are left reeling, not knowing when or if relief will ever come. The response by elected officials has been inept at best and malevolent at worst, as they have ignored or obstructed the most basic public health measures, and manipulated critically-important public health data. Meanwhile, the dysfunctional-by-design Florida Unemployment system leaves the poor and underpaid working class stranded as they are forced to make the choice between paying rent, utilities, or buying food. What an ironic time to revisit Joseph McCarthy’s greatest hits in the form of an empty partisan stunt crafted on the taxpayer’s dime. How else can we understand this official denunciation on behalf of Florida Senate Republicans but an embarrassing attempt to distract the people from their own criminal negligence in the face of an unmitigated crisis? You may be hungry, at risk of eviction, unable to access unemployment benefits, isolated from your loved ones for nearly a year in the name of an economy inaccessible to you, but hey: the emperor who has no clothes would like you to know that democratic socialism is very bad!
What do everyday Floridians imagine and hope their elected officials are doing right now to ensure their safety and economic survival during this crisis? Spinning around in high-backed desk chairs in plush offices, incoherently babbling about an ahistorical “democratic socialism?” As in one county, making it harder for people to get vaccines as Publix became the sole distributor following its $100,000 gift to our benevolent leader Ron DeSantis? Scheming how to counter the will of Floridians who recently voted for and passed a $15 minimum wage with nearly 61% approval by lowering it again for those deemed “hard-to-hire employees?”
Floridians are tired of the status quo. This kind of blatantly corrupt, inhumane agenda is not a surprise. The distracting denunciation of democratic socialism during one of capitalism’s worst crises is not a surprise. Their cold indifference to mass death is shocking, but not a surprise. That all of these issues disproportionately impact communities of color, while Republican legislators introduce bills meant to undermine a new civil rights movement and prevent Floridians from protesting the material conditions foisted onto them is despicable, but, again, not a surprise. However, cynical resignation is not the answer to wiping away the stain of many years of corrupt political rule in Florida.
That wealthy and lying politicians want to distract us by demonizing democratic socialism only demonstrates their fear that we will notice how they undermine their constituents’ wellbeing in favor of their own financial interests. The politicians using socialism as a scare tactic or partisan smear gamble that the rest of us won’t see beyond fear-mongering and eventually act upon our own interests, as we did in November when Florida voters overwhelmingly approved an increase in the state minimum wage. They’re hoping we won’t act democratically as the people of Florida did in 2018 when we voted overwhelmingly to restore the voting rights of former felons. What will happen when their constituents realize that the false dichotomy of “red” and “blue” United States does not exist? As the prescient Sarah Kendzior has observed, “America is purple – purple like a bruise,” and we’re tired of the incessant beatings.
So who are these democratic socialists? They are us. A multi-racial coalition calling for a political revolution. We understand, as President Harry Truman stated in 1952, that for over a hundred years “Socialism is [the Republicans’] name for almost anything that helps all the people.” When Republicans denounce democratic socialism, and when liberal Democrats make efforts to distance themselves from it, what is it that they are against? Access to healthcare and a living wage in a time of the greatest health crisis in a century, now and into the future; strong labor unions to protect and advocate for workers whose employers act to minimize wages while making record profits for themselves; student loan forgiveness after more than four decades of market deregulation, several economic recessions, corporate bailouts and stagnant wages in a neoliberal gig economy; free education and trade skill programs for all; a Federal jobs guarantee; racial equity and restitution; sanctuary and resources for anyone who wishes to call America home without fear of deportation, imprisonment, or separation from their families; swift action against climate change with an emphasis on environmental justice; that the monied elite cannot pay off the elected officials who are meant to represent us; and so much more. If you support any of these things, you might be a democratic socialist.
Capitalism isn’t working for the American people, for Floridians. We know the system is rigged against the poor and underpaid working class of our state, black and white, red and blue, and we have a platform to combat the corruption, ignite collective power, and create a truly democratic society. This is what the Democratic Socialists of America are fighting for every day, and what U.S. socialists have advocated for over a century. We welcome all Floridians who want to fight for these things, for all people, to join us today. https://www.dsausa.org/join
“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
[In alphabetical order]
Florida International University YDSA
Palm Beach County DSA
Polk County DSA
Space Coast DSA