As an outsider (Canadian, can’t vote), it seems to me that the Republican grassroots game is way better than the Democrats, even the left wing of the Democratic party. The Republicans worried about all the little stuff - school boards, town councils, county commissioners, sheriffs, state legislatures - and it is through this they have been able to stoke the outrage machine, one bit of kindling at a time. Democrats can stoke outrage too, but they haven’t managed to translate that into anything near the same level of grassroots action. Democrats just don’t seem as interested in this stuff - they seem to think as long as there is a Democratic President, and hopefully Senate and HoR, then everything will be okay, or at least not too shitty.
So while Gov. Newsom’s message isn’t necessarily counterproductive, it does come across as a bit performative (at least to me, as an outsider). What are Democrats actually doing on the ground in Florida? We never hear about that. Honestly, it’s either “What did Ron DeSantis do this time?” or “Behold, laugh at Florida Man”. Republicans have taken the economic/livelihood anxiety and hitched it to a bevvy of social issues, blaming liberals and Democrats along the way.
I don’t know what the solution is - I think this is bound to happen in a two party democracy where rural constituencies hold disproportional power. And fixing that would require fundamental change. But it seems as if the mainstream Democratic Party has misunderstood the game for some time.
A big part of it is that the GOP base skews older, and election day always falls on a weekday (Tuesday), which means that they have a built-in advantage when it comes to voter turnout in minor elections, when working folk don’t bother while retirees have all the time in the world.
This is also why Republican primaries have gotten so crazy. They just need to get a tiny number of people riled up to kick out an incumbent, because not many people typically pay attention to primaries.
As for what the Democrats are doing on the ground in Florida, the answer is that they really can’t do much. It’s winner takes all, and the other party can do little to stop the winner. The Republicans have big majorities in the state legislature and the governorship.
No, the answer is to get people psyched to vote for school board and city and state offices every single time there is an election because there really is no other way. It’s an uphill battle, but I do not believe that a majority of Floridians would want this shit if they sat down and thought about it.
Speaking as a native Georgian and current resident, you are most welcome to join us! We turned blue last election cycle nationally, but we could sure use more progressives here to hold the beach and start advancing. Speaking of beaches, ours aren’t as pretty as Florida’s, but there are fewer man-eating alligators in the water features here.
And get national level voting legislation for mail in ballots and expansive early voting. More people would vote, I think, if they didn’t have to figure out how to get there during a small time window and could have the ballot laid out in front of them instead of having to go find whose on it by themselves.*
The small races really do matter
*Shout out to Ballotpedia.org very easy way to find out what’s on your ballot