Today (4/1/23) The Wall Street Journal had as a front-page article on its REVIEW section titled “How Florida Became America’s GOP Hot Spot.” Written by several authors, it is a magnificent gloating piece celebrating GOP electoral accomplishments and becoming one of the major hubs of conservative heavyweights in the nation.

Florida not only has living in it the two top Republican presidential candidates but has also many other luminaries of the conservative world. The article to its credit recognizes that Florida once was one of the nation’s biggest swing states, but that now it is solidly conservative. 

They give credit to the vibrancy and creativity of conservative thinking in the state. I say hogwash. The reason that the Republican Party enjoys such reputation has much to do with the betrayal of Democratic economic principles by the Democratic Party leadership in the last few years. 

Barack Obama won Florida twice. Obama ran on a very different agenda than the Democratic Party have been espousing lately, especially in the last elections of 2022. For one Obama was the creator of the Affordable Care Act aptly referred to as Obamacare. Just on that alone Obama had a major issue to campaign on that significantly helped many people in the state. 

In the elections of 2022 what was mainly heard from the Democratic Party leadership was the need to stop “encroaching socialism,” without offering much fight on issues that are important to people like healthcare (in spite of the gains made through Obamacare there are still 2.8 million people with no health insurance in Florida even though one million could be incorporated by a stroke of the pen into the insured camp through Medicaid expansion), Florida’s housing prices are now at the same level as California with a fraction of the wage level; the highest property insurance rates in the nation all based on damage projections (and still Florida Republican leadership is solidly in the fossil fuel camp!), the “woke” campaign to distract from draconian policies in education, firearms, social issues, etc. 

So, considering all these issues and the many more affecting the people of Florida the Party leadership focused on fighting “encroaching socialism”. Other swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin didn’t have to deal with such screwed-up vision. And consequently, people came out to vote and all four former swing states have now Democrat governors.

Why Florida? Florida has an outsized influence from the Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan exile community, who many of them or their descendants come from hard-core right-wing families in their homelands with the ability to pose as members of the overall Hispanic community while spouting the same Republican ideas they held back home.

Is Florida lost forever. Of course not! The people of Florida have a history of voting progressively on issues affecting them through referendums like restoration of voting rights for felons, medical marijuana, increase in the minimum wage to $15, etc. what Florida needs is a Democratic Party that is concerned about the needs of the people instead of catering to the whims of those that see the Party as a means to enrich themselves.

Lorenzo Canizares

Co-Chair Labor Community Alliance of South Florida (LCA)