On February 28 2023, a post about a Florida Republican lawmaker’s purported proposal to “cancel” the Democratic party in his state was popular on Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter:
Blaise Ingoglia’s Bill, ‘The Ultimate Cancel Act’
Reddit submissions outside the “text only” category typically featured an external link or an image. The post in question contained the latter, a screenshot of a tweet instead of a link to a news story.
However, the screenshot included the name of the user (Brian Tyler Cohen) and a date. Cohen’s tweet contained a visible link to an article:
Cohen linked to FloridaPolitics.com, a website with consistent and reliable reporting on political matters in the state of Florida, and an excellent example of the value of local newsrooms. FloridaPolitics.com notably and routinely covers detailed political developments at a local level, curating information later reported on a national level — as was the case with their in-person reporting on statements made by lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in December 2022.
On February 28 2023, FloridaPolitics.com reported that Ingoglia was “sponsoring the ‘Ultimate Cancel Act.'” The outlet explained that the Democratic party was not “mentioned in the bill,” but Ingoglia referenced the party in related statements:
Sen. Blaise Ingoglia is sponsoring the “Ultimate Cancel Act,” which would eliminate all political parties that once used slavery as part of its platform.
While “Democratic Party” isn’t mentioned in the bill, Ingoglia said that’s his target.
“For years now, leftist activists have been trying to ‘cancel’ people and companies for things they have said or done in the past. This includes the removal of statues and memorials, and the renaming of buildings,” he said. “Using this standard, it would be hypocritical not to cancel the Democratic Party itself for the same reason.”
The measure (SB 1248) would switch Democratic voters to no-party voters or give them the option of choosing another party.
The site also linked to Florida’s flsenate.gov, specifically the text of SB 1248, “Political Parties.” A landing page for that legislation indicated it had been “filed” (not “passed,”) and it read in part:
GENERAL BILL by [Sen. Blaise] Ingoglia
Political Parties; Citing this act as “The Ultimate Cancel Act”; requiring the Division of Elections to immediately cancel the filings of a political party if certain conditions exist; requiring the division to follow a certain procedure; requiring the division to provide a specified notice to certain voters; authorizing a canceled political party to reregister with the Department of State; providing procedures for an organization to reregister as a political party, etc.
Effective Date: 7/1/2023
Last Action: 2/28/2023 Senate – Filed
Two versions of the two-page “Ultimate Cancel Act” were linked at the bottom of the text. One was a PDF, and it detailed “certain conditions” mentioned above (emphasis ours):
Section 2. Subsection (9) is added to section 103.091, Florida Statutes, to read:
103.091 Political parties.—
(9) The division shall 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. In addition to applicable procedures provided for in s. 103.095(5), the following procedures must also be followed:
(a) If the division cancels the filings of a political party, the division must provide notice to each voter registered with the canceled political party that the political party has been canceled and his or her voter registration information will now reflect “No Party Affiliation,” and provide procedures for the voter to update his or her party affiliation to an active political party.
Ingoglia’s bill was real and accurately described in that initial local reporting.
The Democratic Party and Slavery
Ingoglia’s proposal was designed to render a party whose platform ever “previously advocated for, or [had] been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude.” UCLA’s civic engagement-focused voteview.com had an entry about the Democratic party mentioned its prior support for slavery and later, Jim Crow laws:
The Democratic Party is the oldest continuing party in the United States, officially founded in 1828 … Angered that the popular vote [in 1824] had been ignored, [Andrew] Jackson and Senator Martin Van Buren formed a new party which they saw as representing the will of the people—the Democratic Party, which trounced Adams in the next Presidential Election. The Democratic Party at its inception was against central government power (including abolishing the Bank of the United States) as its key platform. It was not sympathetic to native Americans and opposed the abolition of slavery. In the run up to the Civil War, the party became sharply divided between Northern and Southern Democrats, the former believing US territories should vote on whether or not to allow slavery within their borders and the latter believing slavery should be allowed regardless. After the civil war, because many Southerners associated the Republican party with the Union Army and reconstruction, the Democratic Party became the political home for most white Southerners. The party took positions supportive of Jim Crow laws and denying full rights to African Americans, and remained the dominant party in the South for decades. Meanwhile, the Republican Party became nationally dominant in the post-civil war era …
Voteview.com’s brief summary of the party’s history was, while concise, far more nuanced than the content of Ingoglia’s bill — and it expanded its historical lens to the party’s treatment of indigenous Americans as well as the Jim Crow era. A lengthy Brittanica.com entry titled “Democratic Party” was broken into sections, the first labeled “History,” and the second “Slavery and the emergence of the bipartisan system.”
The latter was also more comprehensive on the subject of slavery, regional politics, and the Democrats. It described a fracture in the party in the mid-1800s between “Northern Democrats” who opposed slavery, and “Southern Democrats” who didn’t:
From 1828 to 1856 the Democrats won all but two presidential elections (1840 and 1848). During the 1840s and ’50s, however, the Democratic Party, as it officially named itself in 1844, suffered serious internal strains over the issue of extending slavery to the Western territories. Southern Democrats, led by Jefferson Davis, wanted to allow slavery in all the territories, while Northern Democrats, led by Stephen A. Douglas, proposed that each territory should decide the question for itself through referendum. The issue split the Democrats at their 1860 presidential convention, where Southern Democrats nominated John C. Breckinridge and Northern Democrats nominated Douglas. The 1860 election also included John Bell, the nominee of the Constitutional Union Party, and Abraham Lincoln, the candidate of the newly established (1854) antislavery Republican Party (which was unrelated to Jefferson’s Republican Party of decades earlier). With the Democrats hopelessly split, Lincoln was elected president with only about 40 percent of the national vote; in contrast, Douglas and Breckinridge won 29 percent and 18 percent of the vote, respectively.
In total, the section contained two long paragraphs, leading into a section labeled, “A difficult transition to progressivism.” In the second paragraph, Brittanica.com delved into the positions of both parties in the Reconstruction period:
The election of 1860 is regarded by most political observers as the first of the country’s three “critical” elections—contests that produced sharp yet enduring changes in party loyalties across the country. (Some scholars also identify the 1824 election as a critical election.) It established the Democratic and Republican parties as the major parties in what was ostensibly a two-party system. In federal elections from the 1870s to the 1890s, the parties were in rough balance—except in the South, where the Democrats dominated because most whites blamed the Republican Party for both the American Civil War (1861–65) and the Reconstruction (1865–77) that followed; the two parties controlled Congress for almost equal periods through the rest of the 19th century, though the Democratic Party held the presidency only during the two terms of Grover Cleveland (1885–89 and 1893–97). Repressive legislation and physical intimidation designed to prevent newly enfranchised African Americans from voting—despite passage of the Fifteenth Amendment—ensured that the South would remain staunchly Democratic for nearly a century (see black code). During Cleveland’s second term, however, the United States sank into an economic depression. The party at this time was basically conservative and agrarian-oriented, opposing the interests of big business (especially protective tariffs) and favouring cheap-money policies, which were aimed at maintaining low interest rates.
Ingoglia’s bill targeted any political party “if the party’s platform has previously advocated for, or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude.” It was true the Democratic party was once “in support of” slavery, but that was an obvious oversimplification, at best.
Several social media posts claimed a Florida Republican (Blaise Ingoglia) proposed legislation to “cancel” the Democratic party in his state. In late February 2023, Ingoglia filed’ ‘Political Parties” (or “The Ultimate Cancel Act,” SB 1248). Ingoglia’s bill didn’t describe Democrats by name, but it targeted any party which supported “slavery” or “involuntary servitude.” The Democratic party’s history with respect to slavery was well-documented, but credible analyses routinely included comprehensive historical context for that information.