A Republican lawmaker in Florida has proposed a bill that would effectively dismantle the Democratic Party, a move that would disenfranchise millions of voters in the state.
Senate Bill 1248, sponsored by Republican state Senator Blaise Ingoglia, is titled “The Ultimate Cancel Act,” a reference to right-wing grievances about so-called cancel culture.
The bill doesn’t mention the Democratic Party by name, but seeks to “immediately cancel the filings of a political party, to include its registration and approved status as a political party, if the party’s platform has previously advocated for, or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude.”
Early in its history, the Democratic Party fought to preserve the institution of slavery and to uphold other vehicles of white supremacy, including Jim Crow laws in the South after the Civil War. Partway through the 20th century, however, the platforms and voting blocs of the two major political parties underwent a dramatic shift; in the years since, Republicans have actively campaigned to disenfranchise Black voters and to suppress any acknowledgment of the ongoing effects of slavery and racism in the U.S.
Indeed, Republicans in Florida, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), recently passed laws to restrict educators from teaching factual accounts of Black history in the U.S. — a move that many scholars and activists say is proto-fascist.
Ingoglia himself has defended preserving racist relics of Florida’s past. In 2016, for example, he was among a handful of Republicans who voted against removing a statue of Edmund Kirby Smith, a Confederate Civil War general whose family enslaved Black people.
If Ingoglia’s bill were to become law, it would effectively end the Democratic Party altogether, preventing millions of Floridians from participating in primary elections. Florida is a closed-primary state, meaning that a person has to declare themselves a member of a political party in order to vote in the primaries. If the bill passes, the status of registered Democrats in Florida would automatically change to unaffiliated, shutting them out of the voting process to select candidates for the general election.
“Presenting a bill that would disenfranchise 5 million voters is both unconstitutional and unserious,” a statement from the Florida Democratic Party said.
Nikki Fried, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, condemned the legislation in a separate statement.
“Shame on the radical Republican party for initiating some type of a piece of legislation of this magnitude,” Fried said. “This is what a dictator does. This is what a fascist does.”
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