early and often

Florida Republican Wants to ‘Cancel’ Democrats Over Slavery

State senator and former Florida GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia. Photo: Phil Sears/AP/Shutterstock

One of the dumber habits of contemporary Republicans is to respond to accusations of racism by pointing at the Democratic Party’s ancient ties to slavery and Jim Crow. Last year it came to light that Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Tudor Dixon, had publicly claimed in 2020 that Democrats’ alleged hatred of America was motivated by a desire to avenge white Southerners for their Civil War defeat. This insane and/or cynical claim is paralleled by a long-standing conservative contention that today’s Democrats devised Big Government to re-enslave Black people via dependence on Uncle Sam.

But now Florida state senator Blaise Ingoglia has provided perhaps the ultimate in bizarre whataboutisms based on completely irrelevant history, as NBC News reports:

“The Ultimate Cancel Act,” filed on Tuesday by state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, would require the state’s Division of Elections to “immediately cancel” the filings of any political party whose platform had “previously advocated for, or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude.”

The bill, called S.B. 1248, would require Florida officials to notify all registered voters who belong to any canceled parties that their party no longer exists. It would also change their voter registration to “no party affiliation” and “provide procedures” for those voters to update their affiliation to “an active political party.”

You can almost hear Ingoglia chortle at his own cleverness:

Ingoglia, in a press release, suggested his bill was designed to get back at Democrats and “leftist activists” who he said had “been trying to ‘cancel’ people and companies for things they have said or done in the past,” including “the removal of statues and memorials, and the renaming of buildings.”

For the most part, the “removal of statues and memorials and the renaming of buildings” that “leftist activists” have promoted involves the commemoration of actual people engaged in slave-holding, and/or armed insurrection against the United States in defense of slave-holding. Yes, the Democratic Party was once a vehicle for defenders of slavery, then ex-Confederates in the South, and racists outside that region (until the New Deal, anyway). But I’d say the Democratic Party has pretty thoroughly repudiated that heritage via its support for civil-rights and voting-rights laws, its election of the first Black president and the first Black vice-president, and its ability to build a diverse voting coalition that Republicans can’t pretend to emulate. Indeed, the people continuing to defend racists of yesteryear largely aren’t Democrats, but members of the Republican Party — including Florida’s own Donald Trump (who battled to stop the renaming of military bases after Confederate leaders) and Ron DeSantis (who pushed for enactment of a state law making the toppling of Confederate memorials a felony).

As a rule, one shouldn’t pay too much attention to random wing-nut state legislators (though it’s tempting in an era when Republicans attribute every left-wing activist utterance to the Democratic Party writ large). But Ingoglia is a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party (serving from 2015 to 2019) and is in his fifth term as a legislator. In the Sunshine State, he is far from being an anonymous schmo. Other members of the Florida GOP need to tell him to lay off the “Democrats are still the party of slavery” fiction before Democrats start tying Republicans to Herbert Hoover.

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Florida Republican Wants to ‘Cancel’ Democrats Over Slavery