Something special is happening in the Democratic Party. We are witnessing a new generation of leaders emerge before our very eyes. You should familiarize yourself with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, as the Florida gubernatorial race will be one of the main races to watch this November, largely thanks to his surprising victory in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary. Here he is on CNN this morning, quickly recapping his platform.
At a campaign rally last week, Gillum said “It's my opinion that the way we are going to win [the general] is by nominating a candidate who has the ability to move more of our voters to the polls, more black voters, more brown voters, more young voters, more purple voters, more white voters, more working class voters. That's how we're going to win.”
Money has so dominated politics to the point where it's downright laughable to define America as a democracy. The worst-kept secret in the world is that American politicians are more accountable to their donors than their constituents. The rise of the progressive movement and its ability to churn out voters who are not part of the narrow paradigm that D.C. consultants make millions perpetuating is perhaps the most important development in American politics post-Trump. Gillum was the only nonwhite, non-rich candidate in the Democratic primary, and he won. These spending figures are astounding.
Simply put, the progressive movement has been able to get voters to the polls in a way that traditional Democratic campaigns have not. Florida broke all kinds of turnout records last night.
Because this is the Trump Era, the news out of this race isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Gillum's Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, went on GOP state television this morning and let it be known that he wants every single racist piece of garbage in the state to come out and vote for him.
That phrase was clearly premeditated. I’ve been paying attention to politics my entire life and it’s very clear when politicians are repeating their talking points. I would bet any amount of money that “monkey” was an intentionally crafted part of his talking points. It’s not even a dog whistle—more like a bullhorn. Ron DeSantis injected this racist tone into his campaign because he is a Trump-style politician and Trump has proven that’s the best way for Republicans to churn out voters given their unpopular agenda. After all, this is a country which has elected just two black governors in its entire 242-year history. Richard Nixon proved that running on racism works, and the GOP has used his template over the last half-century. This race will likely get very ugly.
Luckily, a new age of politicians like Andrew Gillum have begun to establish an effective counterweight to America’s longtime appeal to racists at the ballot box, and regardless of whether Gillum wins this November, a new way forward for liberalism has been established. Democrats do not need to be paralyzed by America’s ugly political history. The days of fearing a backlash from racist voters are dwindling. Democrats can unabashedly run on true liberalism that works for a majority of the population because there are more voters willing to support a progressive agenda than the GOP’s longtime dog-whistling corporatist one.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.