It was a really bad weekend for Florida progressives; not just because the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Gala ended in racially-tinged acrimony.
Kartik Krishnaiyer, one of Florida’s leading progressive bloggers and publisher of the award-winning Florida Squeeze website, wrote Friday he was “stepping away from covering party politics or Democratic Party happenings.”
At a time when President Donald Trump is advancing a reactionary, neo-nationalistic brand of GOP politics and Florida Republicans are beginning to demonstrate there is a shelf-life to one-party rule in the state, Krishnaiyer’s withdrawal from blogging and writing is a genuine blow to the progressive cause.
However, according to Krishnaiyer’s final post, Democrats and progressives only have themselves to blame for isolating a blogger once recognized by The Washington Post as one of the best state-based blogs in Florida.
“Whenever we publish work on the GOP, its excessive right-wing policies or hypocrisy they generate FAR less traffic than critiques directed at accountability of Democratic officeholders or the Democratic Party itself,” Krishnaiyer writes.
Krishnaiyer no longer wants to be a party to the Democrat-on-Democrat crime.
“It seems so many in our party live in a bubble, and while there’s a hunger for real talk on how to fix it, many of our articles just seem to create more acrimony and tribalism within the party. It at times gives aid and comfort to malcontents and gadflies with agendas that aren’t positive for the party or a progressive ideology while making little impact on those in power.”
What Krishnaiyer wrote Friday seemed to be on full display come Sunday when, as Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida first reported, Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel was forced to apologize for racially-tinged remarks directed at black lawmakers who were upset with Bittel for allowing event planners to skip a feature to recognize state House and Senate Democrats.
“A party that, despite constant losses, puts the ethnic and gender profile first and a candidate’s qualifications, loyalty and ideology second isn’t an entity worth fighting to reform any longer,” Krishnaiyer wrote presciently.
Krishnaiyer, a staunch Democrat, began his political advocacy in the mid-90s as president of the University of Florida College Democrats. By 1998, he was active in the governmental and public relations sectors, where he stayed for a decade on political campaigns, nonprofits and advocacy organizations.
Before becoming a consultant, Krishnaiyer served as a staffer in the Florida House, acting as a political director for both organizations and campaigns. He played a role in the 2000 Presidential recount in Palm Beach County, working on behalf of the Palm Beach Democratic Party. He was statewide field coordinator for the Florida Democratic Party working through the DEC Chairs Association during the 2002 election cycle. He ran several local campaigns in both 2002 and 2004 in Palm Beach, Broward also in Central Florida.
In addition to his political work, Krishnaiyer has been a major figure in soccer reporting from 2007 to 2013, returning to political punditry in 2012 writing for the Political Hurricane. He founded the Florida Squeeze in 2013.
Krishnaiyer now serves as the managing editor and podcast co-host for World Soccer Talk, an international soccer blog. He is the author of “Blue with Envy,” a book about Manchester City Football Club, and is a regular contributor to the Florida Politics email digest Jacksonville Bold.
It’s unclear what will happen to The Florida Squeeze without Krishnaiyer’s writing propelling it forward. To be honest, the volume and quality of the site’s content dropped off considerably since winning The Washington Post recognition. It should have parlayed the accolade into a larger footprint in Florida politics.
But, for whatever reasons, that never materialized.
Still, the site continues to be widely read within Florida Democratic and progressive circles. It has an active comment section where insiders, in mostly anonymous fashion, spar with each other. And with a wide-open Democratic primary for governor and other statewide offices, the Squeeze could have offered an arena where Democratic activists and thinkers shaped the big debates of the 2018 cycle.
Unfortunately, that does not look like it will happen.
On a side note, Krishnaiyer’s stepping away from the table is more evidence that Florida’s fledgling political blogosphere died a long time ago. It’s no longer enough to call this website a blog, nor is The Sayfie Review, with its complete lack of original content, a blog.
No, a blogosphere is/was something that was populated by wonderful, interesting sites like The Political Hurricane/The Florida Squeeze: mostly non-commercial platforms giving voice to a broad array of opinions. They weren’t always the best-edited websites, and sometimes they looked as attractive as a dog’s breakfast, but they were worth reading.
There was a time, less than six years ago, when prominent Florida political blogger, Kenneth Quinnell, actually staged an awards contest to recognize the best of blogging in the state. There were more than 150 websites which merited consideration!
Those were the days.
After a while, though, many amateur writers lost interest in blogging. “Why am I writing all of this if no one is reading it?” is the question which probably kills off most blogs.
The New York Times reported at the end of the blog era that 95 percent of blogs are essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.
My friend Kartik Krishnaiyer tried his damnedest to fulfill his blogging dream. But in the end, it went unfulfilled. And we are all the worse for that.