Why are democratic socialists performing so well in Democratic primaries including, most recently, in the non-blue state of Florida? The answer resides partly in the ignorance of many Democratic voters, especially young ones. They know little about history and less about economics (or is it the other way around?).
But there’s an additional explanation: funding. Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker reported:
Gillum [the far-leftist who won the Florida primary] recognized that the big money in the Democratic Party—Steyer’s money, George Soros’s money—is now on the left, not the center. Last year, Gillum watched closely as Soros’s cash helped propel progressive candidates to victory in several local elections, including the Philadelphia District Attorney’s race.
Gillum was familiar with Soros and his organization, the Open Society Foundation: a few years ago, he helped launch a national network for young progressive elected officials, and the Open Society Foundation was the group’s main donor. He had been in the financier’s New York apartment, addressed his board of directors, and, this spring, dined with him in San Francisco when the two men happened to be in town.
Soros committed to back Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign. “If I’m remembering it correctly, it was, ‘We don’t know if you can win, but we would like what it could represent,’ ” Gillum said. “I interpreted it to mean that it would be significant to see a person of color taken seriously in a statewide race.”
I interpret it to mean that, plus that it would be significant to see a far-left candidate (regardless of race) win the nomination.
Gillum managed to get a meeting with [Tom] Steyer [the ultra-leftist billionaire], too. “At the beginning, he told me he had a rule around trying to stay out of primaries,” Gillum told me. “As I talked to him about what I believed, I told him, straight up, ‘In your brand of politics, you are never going to have anyone come out of these primaries who shares that belief system if you don’t get involved.’ ” He needed money to beat money. On June 28th, Steyer’s organization, NextGen America, announced it would commit a million dollars to support Gillum’s campaign.
Then, on the Thursday before the election, Gillum received a last-minute windfall of $650,000 — $300,000 from Steyer, $250,000 from Soros, and a $100,000 from anonymous individuals “affiliated” with the two billionaires.
It’s tempting to see a parallel between the two nominees for Florida governor, Gillum and Rep. Ron DeSantis. One said to be is hard-left, the other hard-right.
But DeSantis is a fairly traditional conservative. According to George Rasley, there was little of substance that separated DeSantis from his establishment primary opponent except that the opponent was seen, perhaps unfairly, as the candidate of a notoriously corrupt state capitol.
This was not the case on the Democratic side. Gillum ran far to the left of Gwen Graham. According to Wallace-Wells, she ran a traditional liberal campaign that focused on environmental protection and incremental increases in spending for health and education.
By contrast, Gillum advocates a steep corporate-tax increase to pay for a billion-dollar boost in public-education spending, Medicare for all, and a fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage.
Gillum has demonstrated that with enough Soros and Steyer money, and given voter ignorance about history and economics, that platform can bring victory (albeit with just one-third of the vote) in a Democratic primary in a moderate-to-conservative state. Can it bring victory in the general election? Will Florida voters “monkey” with, and indeed overturn, the success that conservative policies have helped confer on the state?
One would think not. But in what be a very good year for Democrats, and with Soros and Steyer pouring money in and the mainstream media demonizing Ron DeSantis, who knows?