A legislative action titled “The Ultimate Cancel Act” was brought to the Florida legislature by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Hernando, in February 2023 proposing to eliminate any political party that has previously supported slavery. When considered from a historical perspective, this legislation targets the Florida Democratic Party.
Since this proposition, DeSantis has demonstrated his disdain for the Florida Democratic party by referring to it as “basically a dead, rotten carcass.”
The bill proposes that these parties would be wiped from existence and the voters affiliated with this party would have to be classified as non-affiliated or independent. This would force the party to reallocate resources to a new party with a name that is considerably different from the previous name.
Even though the Florida Democratic Party is not explicitly mentioned in the bill, it is an obvious attack on them because of the Southern Democrats’ support of slavery in the mid-19th century.
The Republican Party often paints the picture that it was completely against slavery and sought to demolish the institution for good when Lincoln was elected. However, Lincoln directly stated that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
Lincoln’s statement demonstrates that his goal was not to abolish slavery because he was a moral person but rather because he could emancipate the slaves so that southern slave owners could not utilize them against the Union. Therefore, the motivations Lincoln had were unclear.
Lincoln believed that he had no constitutional right to interfere with slavery, and he did so only after the Confederacy broke the contract of the Constitution when they seceded. After slaves were emancipated, Republicans were willing to allow them control over their labor, however, they could not stomach allowing former slaves to be on the same social level as white people.
In the 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, the New Deal coalition had fallen apart, therefore separating the Democratic Party into northern Democrats who supported the expansion of rights and the southern Democrats who opposed these new laws. When Kennedy was elected, he had a limited ability to address the issue of Civil Rights and proposed compromised legislation.
After Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson– an avid supporter of the Civil Rights Movement– was able to pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, much to the dismay of Southern Democrats.
The southern Democrats no longer supported the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party was willing to take the electorate hit. Southern Democrats began to vote for racially conservative politicians in the Republican Party.
As a result, people that had supported slavery in the 1860s were the same people who switched their support to the Republican Party after the Civil Rights Movement. This transition proves that each party has supported the disenfranchisement of Black Americans because of southern white voters.
Regardless of the label, the constituents of the Republican Party were the same as those who were a part of the Whig Party. When the U.S. was founded, every party supported slavery, and these groups eventually evolved into the Republican and Democratic parties.
The Ultimate Cancel Act proposed by the Florida Legislature presents a redundant and misguided attempt to shut down competitors within the Florida Democratic Party. Representatives are trying to force a party shift which would ultimately prohibit voters from being able to exercise their civic duty.
This act could be framed as an attempt by conservatives to limit Democratic opposition to their bills. If voters were forced to be independent, they could not vote in the upcoming primary in 2024. This is a vengeful attack against the Democratic Party, and our legislature is harming voters in the process.
Democracy is founded upon individuals’ right to show preference and vote for their representatives freely. If parties are limited in the electoral arena, then democracy and the electoral foundation of the country would be hindered. Not only is this bill unfounded, but it is also an undemocratic attempt to disenfranchise a portion of Florida’s voters.
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Featured Image: Florida Senate vote distribution in 2023. Unmodified from Florida Election Results by County, 2023 used under a Creative Commons License. (http://bit.ly/3KJLhH1)