This Saturday, the elections for the Florida Democratic Party Chair will finally take place. Democrats from throughout the state will come together to choose the next leader of our party. As the State Committeewoman from Miami-Dade I have the responsibility of casting our votes for the future of our party.
During this past election cycle, we saw a recurring theme. A theme which has continued to create a growing disconnect between the people and their political party. The defeat of Hillary Clinton exposed the need for a drastically new direction for not only the Democratic Party in Florida, but the Democratic National Committee. The business as usual approach of Democrats does not work. We are consumed by playing it safe and too dominated by money interests, pundits, and technocracy to be responsive to the direct needs of our communities.
If there is any lesson we’ve learned from this past cycle is money alone doesn’t win elections. The candidates and the party have to stand for something that voters believe in.
Democrats were once known as the party of the people, the party of the working class, a party of inclusion, a party that would stand against corporations, special interests, and stand up for the regular person. Regrettably, many no longer have that perception of the Democratic Party. There has been a major shift in identity on the national level, which has trickled down to the states, where the party is seen as the party of corporate welfare, dominated by intellectual elites. We are seen as the party of many words and very few actions that really account for people who are struggling.
To begin a revival, we must apply a basic principle of organizing: Those who are directly affected must be at the center of the change we seek. We must acknowledge the importance of putting working class families, young people, Black communities, women and other marginalized and minority communities at the core of our strategy. This must be reflected in our new chair.
I acknowledge the importance of fundraising, building a long lasting and self-sustaining infrastructure focused on cultivating a leadership pipeline and candidate recruitment with a strong management team that understands the importance of leveraging the resources in our communities. But all the money, vendors, and consultants in the world can’t move our voters to the polls if they don’t believe in who we are at the core. The new Chair must, more than anything, embody the politics, values, and vision of the Party we want to be. Our investors, our activists, our infrastructure must line up behind that vision.
With vision and commitment, the new Chair must:
Make Our Internal Functioning Democratic and with Integrity: party leaders need to check their privilege at the door and get down to working on the people’s agenda;
Commit to build from the bottom-up and invest in making local DECs strong, diverse and effective;
Make year round commitments to Black communities and other marginalized communities, don’t just engage and mobilize our communities during elections; ORGANIZE!
Identify innovative and strategic ways to raise funds as to avoid being reliant on corporate donors and special interests; and
Speak to the economic pain that our people are feeling and make clear commitments to working people, including being front and center against corporate control of our economy and democracy
We are a party of the people, for the people. We have a responsibility to our base. We are at a pivotal moment in our country and our party, where we must prioritize strengthening the foundation of our base. It is time for a fundamental reboot of the party, where we are committed to building from the bottom up, build our organizing infrastructure, develop new leadership, and work hand in hand with movements that are moving people into action. We must uplift the values and the principles of the Democratic Party. We must develop a collective vision and support that vision with a plan which we operationalize and put into action as a new way of building power for our communities. We must create a vehicle that people believe in and will ultimately invest in over the long-term.
I know I am very excited to cast my vote for Chair for former State Senator Dwight Bullard and I proudly endorse him for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
We’ve got a lot of work of ahead and I encourage all who are currently running for chair to make a commitment of uniting our party, holding all accountable with our voters and community at the helm. As the Haitian proverb goes, “Men anpil, chay pa lou”, which means, “Many hands makes the load lighter.” We all have a role to play in strengthening this party, this is not only the work of the next Florida Democratic Party Chair.
Francesca Menes, State Committeewoman, Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee who has one of the largest vote allocation of 62 votes to be cast on Saturday, January 14th for Florida Democratic Party Chair.