Ordinary People Will Shape the Path Forward: A Note About Florida’s Primary

March 21, 2020
four young people wearing dream defenders tshirts pose in front of a graffiti wall

We are so proud of our membership, who saw the need to intervene in this political moment and took a chance by endorsing a presidential candidate for the first time in our organization’s history. We knocked on thousands of doors, made over 100,000 phone calls in every major city in Florida and talked to our communities about the things we all deserve: healthcare, education, debt relief, higher wages, and a re-shaping of our criminal legal and immigration systems. And today, at the end of our efforts in our home state, we have more members and relationships than we’ve ever had because of this work.

We are Florida kids.

We know intimately the challenges that come with living in this huge peninsula. Metropolitan and rural and small town America, southern and international, deep and rich history interlaced with some of the worst horrors this country has ever committed. And in our lifetimes, we have lived through Trayvon and we lived through the tragic killings of 17 children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Florida is a hard place, but we birth movement and power out of tragedy.

We didn’t get the big shiny win last night, but exit polls tell us the majority of Floridians now support medicare for all. In 2018, a majority of voters decided to restore the voting rights of 1.4 million people with felonies. And nearly 400,000 Floridians voted for the candidate with the most progressive platform we’ve ever seen. Florida is moving, we’re busting our asses to make it happen.

Florida is a hard place, but we birth movement and power out of tragedy.

While we fight for progress in the state that is often the butt of jokes, our government fights us at every turn.

The GOP fought tooth and nail to gut Amendment 4, to the point that many people with felonies don’t know whether or not they can vote.

And as we sit in the midst of a global pandemic, with projections saying that millions of people could die, Florida’s government stood by and did nothing to ensure people could access the ballot and stay safe while doing so. Hundreds of polling sites were shutdown across the state. Thousands of students who were registered to vote had to move off campus when schools shut down, and then couldn’t change their address to vote in the counties where they wound up.

In the face of all this, we moved quickly to take action, doing our best to meet our communities needs in the face of a whole lot of confusion.

We cancelled canvasses and took to the phones instead. We’re setting up community health programs across the state to make sure our communities are. safe. We filed a lawsuit with the state, demanding they ensure every voter had access to vote by mail.

Florida’s government has done nothing. Voters across the state yesterday shared that polling sites were empty. In our phone banks, voters told us they were sick and didn’t want to vote and get others sick or were worried they might catch something if they left the house. Our politicians could have ensured every voter had access to vote by mail in the wake of the crisis but they chose to ignore the problem. But again, they chose to do nothing instead.

We could live in a society that ensures everyone’s voice is heard. Florida politicians have made it clear that when we all have a voice, their power over us is threatened.

The road ahead is unclear. We may be entering very dark days. The face of community organizing is changing, but we commit to continuing the fight for our people. With business shutdowns, layoffs, job uncertainty, a slow moving congress and dim witted President we know meeting people’s needs is our greatest priority.

Now more than ever, all of us must show up for each other and remember the rallying cry that brought us all together: Not Me, Us.

In this moment it will be young Black and Brown folks; young, disillusioned and angry folks; young, ordinary people across the country, in organization and unity who will remake the world. And we want you to join us.

News dropping soon.

In love, solidarity, and the fight for a better world with you always,

The Dream Defenders

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