Teresa Jenkins delivered the following remarks at our monthly DEC meeting. Please join us on March 7th at 5:30 to listen in person to her next update.
We are in week 6 of the Florida Legislative Session and it has proven to be a red meat session. The legislature is pushing through whatever the governor wants and whatever will get him re-elected. So, we’re seeing a bunch of nonsense and a bunch of dangerous radical ideas such as the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kinds and Employees (W.O.K.E) Act that will give businesses, children, and families tools to fight back against woke indoctrination. It builds on DeSantis’ ban on Critical Race Theory and the New York Times’ 1619 project in Florida’s schools.
During this Black History Month, it’s important to reflect on leaders who paved the way for progress – and no one quite bears that torch like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He put his life on the line in pursuit of justice and equality for all and led marches for progress with other champions of democracy like John Lewis. Shamefully, we have people like Ron DeSantis who refuse to carry on these heroes’ legacies. You cannot honor Dr. King with a bunch of words and at the same time mutilate his legacy as many in the GOP are trying to do from voter suppression bills at the state level to blocking national legislation to ensure equal access to the ballot box. This is not the democracy Dr. King fought for – it’s deliberate destruction of democracy.
Our role in the Charlotte County Democratic Party is to educate our voters on not only what Republicans aren’t doing for them, but what Democrats will do for them. Voting rights and everything that civil rights heroes like John Lewis and Dr. King fought for are on the ballot this November. Our democracy is on the ballot.
We must remind voters that it is President Joe Biden who has helped Floridians by passing bills that beef up our state and local budgets. It is Joe Biden that has given Florida money to improve infrastructure and address the negative effects of the pandemic, not Ron DeDantis.
This is 2022 – the year ends in a “2.” That means that every state legislator is up for re-election because it’s a redistricting year. So, Republicans in the FL House and Senate are motivating their voters in the usual way – by fear. Democrats must motivate their voters by giving hope.
This is no ordinary election. If we act as if it is, we’ll lose. The Republican Party is so off the deep end now, that they are describing an attempted coup and a deadly insurrection as “political expression.” This is an election to preserve our democracy because it is the former president who is still an immediate threat, and that threat extends to every Republican on the ballot this year.
We must elect a Democratic governor this November.
We aren’t likely to win a majority in the Florida House or Senate. But if we have a Democratic governor, she or he can stop the insanity in Tallahassee. See this pen? It looks like an ordinary pen, right? But in the hands of a Democratic governor, it becomes a magic pen – a Veto pen. The governor can veto not just policy but also the state budget. And the budget is just as important as policy.
We face many challenges and many threats – continued struggles for racial justice, and a threat to our democratic institutions. But there is also much hope that gives us a sense of optimism.
Every week I meet on Zoom with Democratic officials in the FL House and Senate who provide an update during this legislative session. None of them have given up. They fight every day to stop bad bills and pass good ones. They know what they’re up against, but they never stop fighting – for us.
Today, it was announced that Democrats in the FL Senate, the FL Democratic Party, and a donor partner called Florida Alliance have launched a multi-million-dollar voter registration effort across the state. We have technology today that wasn’t available to us in 2020 that will help identify unregistered voters. There are counties coming together to share ideas and resources so that we can win in November including persuading the Independent voter to vote for our candidates.
You should be angry that elected officials charged with looking out for the interests of everyone in the state are only concerned about their voter base, only concerned with getting and maintaining power at whatever the cost.
Let’s put that anger to good use. I’ve said it many times before – Charlotte County matters; small counties matter in close elections. Charlotte County’s population is expected to grow by 6.7 percent annually, which is one of the highest growth rates in the state. That means we have folks that need to register to vote. Many register through the DMV, but not everyone. And we have folks who have been dropped from the voter rolls because they haven’t voted in the past; we need to get them registered. Vote by mail is critical – if the voter has a mail-in ballot, they will vote.
Those are our priorities right now and I want to personally say thank you to everyone who is working hard in Charlotte County to register voters and get them signed up for vote by mail. If you aren’t helping but want to help, please complete THIS FORM. And of course, DONATING to your local Party helps with printing costs, mailing costs, and advertising costs.
We need our voters to feel just as intensely about the stakes of the election as we do, and we need to show those voters how important this election is and why the future depends on their participation. Thanks for all that you do for democracy.
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