Happy to see the Awake the State and Fight for Florida groups in Florida picking up momentum. Politicians count on voter apathy — that’s how a cretin like Gov. Rick Scott got in office in the first place. I’m also happy to see that this movement grew out of RootsCamp, which I’ve attended and highly recommend to those who want to make a difference on the local level:
Last week, about a dozen activists from various liberal groups held a news conference in front of Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s Tampa office, denouncing his vote in support of the Paul Ryan-Republican budget that would end Medicare as we know it.
Three weeks earlier, an estimated crowd of 150-200 gathered in front of Republican Representative Jeff Brandes’ office in St. Petersburg just days after the legislative session ended, protesting most of the bills supported by Brandes and his GOP allies.
For longtime observers of Florida progressive politics, it’s been an unusual sight — disgruntled Democrats hitting the streets on a regular basis to show their opposition to a governor and a legislature.
It’s not as if one-party rule in Tallahassee were something new, as it’s been in effect for 13 years now. But the election of Rick Scott, followed by a FL legislative session that some say will set the state back decades, has activated a previously somnolent Democratic base into demonstrating their displeasure with the status quo, a la the Tea Party protests from two years ago.
The origins of this groundswell can be traced to a group of concerned activists, originally working under the moniker of Awake the State, and now joined by another group, Fight For Florida,an uncommon alliance, members say, of different parties and organizations unified for a common purpose. St. Pete resident Kirsten Peck admitted at the anti-Brandes rally what was painfully obvious: that there is a price to pay for voter apathy. “I think that what’s happened during the last election was that everybody got a little comfortable and didn’t think that their voice or their vote was that important, and that’s gotta change.”