The best politicians are usually the least delusional. But this year, Democrats are trying to prove that success can come from crossing your fingers or clicking the heels of your ruby slippers together three times.
To quote the great philosopher Pollyanna, “There is something about everything that you can be glad about if you keep hunting long enough to find it.” You might remember her from the 1960 Disney movie, in which orphan Pollyanna (Hayley Mills) tried to find the bright side of every situation.
Democrats in Florida have been hunting for a couple of decades and have yet to find the rainbow.
It’s pathetic, really. But the Democrats are making a big show of trying to be competitive. They’re spending $15 million on a campaign they’re calling “Blue Shift Florida” to try and break the GOP stranglehold on politics in the state.
Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz contends “Blue Shift Florida” is the start of an ambitious, institutionalized year-round effort that he has been touting since he took the helm of the battered party soon after Democrats were routed across the state in the last election. The idea, he said, was to create an operation that will remain intact after the elections and will be in place for the next presidential election in 2024.
“We’ve been killed since 2000,” Diaz told POLITICO, citing the razor-tight presidential election were George W. Bush narrowly edged out former Vice President Al Gore. “It’s been a real mess. My mission — my push — from day one is that’s not going to happen again.”
Mr. Diaz neglected to mention the 10-ton elephant in the room. Gov. Ron DeSantis stands astride the political landscape of the state like a colossus. (Not really, but don’t you love that imagery?) He is running for re-election this year and may give Florida Democrats the coup de grace that puts them out of their misery.
DeSantis is likely to win re-election by 40 points. It’s more than possible that he will drag dozens of Republicans across the line in November by his coattails. The smart move would be to calibrate which races the Democrats can win and take that $15 million and put it in the coffers of candidates who have a chance.
But don’t stop Diaz now. He’s on a roll.
“This is the year we push back,” Diaz added. “Let’s stop being so doom and gloom here.”
To justify his optimism, Diaz harkened back to the last midterm elections where Gov. Ron DeSantis won by slightly more than 32,000 votes and former Gov. Rick Scott defeated incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in the U.S. Senate race by just over 10,000 votes. He said part of the goal would be to send Democratic organizers to all 67 counties in order to lessen the GOP margin even in Republican strongholds. He also said Democrats were hampered in 2020 by Covid-19-related lockdowns where they did not do direct voter outreach.
“We’re not in Mississippi, we’re not in Alabama, we’re in Florida,” Diaz said. “This is still a purple state. We have to get the work done.”
The political landscape has completely changed since 2018. In just four years, DeSantis has made Florida as red as any state in the union, including Alabama and Mississippi. Diaz is delusional.
For the moment, Democrats are pretending it’s just a matter of tweaking their message or finding more attractive candidates. What they need is a new party with new ideas that don’t try to destroy tradition and history.