Remarks by Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz During the 2021 Leadership Blue Gala


Good evening, Buenas Noches, Bonsoir, Boa Noite.

I came to this country on a freedom flight when I was 6 years old – sitting on my mother’s lap… fleeing a country where the government – to this day – has taken away freedom and opportunity for its people.

For us, this country was a beacon for hope…a land of boundless opportunity.

We all shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation.

My story is part of a larger American story.

In no other country on earth, is this even possible.

I also know that I owe a huge debt to all who came before me.

I could not do it alone – throughout my life, I could always count on support.

This is very familiar to many of you here .

We’ve all had help – and because of that help, as a lawyer, executive, as mayor, as Chair of this organization…. I’ve been able to give back.

Because our country invested in us… all of us now give back.

And THAT – FLORIDA DEMOCRATS– is what really makes America great!

Tonight, somewhere in our state – a child will be born…

What kind of country will that child grow up in?

What values will they learn?

What will it mean to grow up in Florida? …In America?

I’ll tell you why I’m here – Why I believe all of you are here tonight.

Because the kind of country our children grow up in.. matters…

Because the values they learn.. matters…

Because growing up in Florida… growing up in America should matter – and for that to mean something…. the party in power matters.

It matters for the working-class families who wake up every day trying to put food on the table.

It matters that they live in safe neighborhoods where they can send their kids to good schools

It matters for every single person who breathes the air of freedom…. because every single Floridian matters.

And they MUST matter to all of us and that’s why… We are Florida Democrats.

Florida Democrats believe in the founding values of our country – that everyone is created equal and deserves a life of dignity and respect.

Most Floridians are just trying to work hard and provide for their families – regardless of their race, gender, or any other differences.

Florida Democrats must work to ensure that everyone – has a fair chance at success… can support themselves and their family with hard work… and can pursue the American dream.

We believe that hard work and responsibility should be rewarded.

If you work hard, you should be able to make a decent living and take care of your family.

Florida Democrats do not malign the American Dream… we celebrate it.

We value family and faith – the freedom to worship an awesome God.

Is that not right Dr. Green?

We look out for the least of our brothers and sisters… we lift each other up…

While there is no guarantee that everyone will be successful… we can guarantee that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

We are the party that fights for the lives of everyday people—everywhere…in our urban and rural counties.

Florida Democrats fight for safe communities, better roads, and better schools for working-class Floridians.

We believe in safe and secure neighborhoods. Mayor Buckhorn, we know that fighting crime and police reform are not mutually exclusive.

The Florida Democratic Party is the TRUE party of freedom – the freedom to marry who you love…the freedom to live and work without fear of discrimination…. or contracting a deadly disease.

The freedom of women to control their own bodies…and the freedom to vote without obstacle.

We fight for fairness – everywhere – because we know that nobody can do it alone.

Florida Democrats fight for democracy and know that extreme polarization.. including too much personality-based deference…. undermines democracy.

We also know that democracy requires an educated public.

Miss Judy, if there is one child in Jackson County who can’t read, that child must matter to us all.

We believe in teachers – and in the freedom to teach the honest, complete facts about historical events, the good and the bad, without being censored by politicians.

At every turning point in our country’s history – it’s the Democratic Party that has stood for what is right and just.

The belief.. that a just government puts the health, safety and prosperity of its citizens above all else.

A belief… that values transparency, integrity, and access.

A society where small businesses thrive… and parents can go to work knowing their children are safe at school.

Florida Democrats also know that we cannot have true prosperity without a fair society.

Senator Torres and Property Appraiser Mercado, we know that if there is one abuelita in Orange County who must choose between medicine and food…. that abuela must matter to us all.

We also know that fairness requires free and fair elections so that every Floridian…not just special interests… can have a voice in our democracy.

Florida Democrats must care for all.

Casmore and Francine know this….we will not let Republicans seize and run on the slogans of prosperity.

FDR once said “Most Republican leaders have bitterly fought and blocked the forward surge of average men and women in their pursuit of happiness.

Let us not be deluded… that overnight those leaders have suddenly become….the friends of average men and women.” Yes, Alphonso, FDR’s call to action still rings true today.

Ask yourselves… after more than 20 years of Republican control…is Florida more free?….More fair?

Of course not!

This is why we – Florida Democrats – must stand together to fight for every single Floridian… each and everyone one of our 67 counties!!

But, let’s be real — if we can’t get elected…we can’t enact our vision.

Politics isn’t about optics or feelings – it’s not an academic exercise… or a graduate thesis – it’s not about endless policy debates on Twitter…

Politics is about convincing people to vote for you – period.

Let’s not forget where we come from – Askew, Graham, Chiles, Pepper, Fascell, Hastings, Meek.

The true leaders who pushed aside labels…got things done…and made Florida a better place for all…

Let’s not forget that the path to true prosperity…. runs through Florida Democrats –

It’s our job… to remind all Floridians of who we really are.

I know it won’t be easy.

We’re facing headwinds Florida Democrats have never faced before.

But just think of the headwinds facing ordinary Floridians….. if we let Republicans keep control…

Are we strong enough to fight? …To move forward?…. Are we?

Are we strong enough to put aside whatever divides us….. so we can work on ensuring the future of all Floridians?….. Are we?

This is the time…… for Florida Democrats to find our faith again.

This is the time…… to decide that 20 plus years of Republican control is more than enough.

It’s time we decide that– for the first time in a long time – Florida Democrats speak with one voice…..– all Floridians matter….. – and pursue one goal….to make life better for all Floridians.

In his inaugural address…..President Kennedy issued this challenge:

“With a good conscience our only sure reward….with history the final judge of our deeds…..let us go forth to lead the land we love….asking His blessing and His help….but knowing that here on earth….God’s work must truly be our own…”

Florida Democrats….let us all go forth to lead the land – and the state – we love.

God bless all of you, the State of Florida, and the United States of America.

Thank you.

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