Commentary

A Ron DeSantis presidency would have dire consequences

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantisPhoto: Shutterstock

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) became the GOP’s party-selected champion of the midterm’s “red wave”, but he also used horrific means to get there. While this isn’t the first politician to do so within the political elite of our US theocracy, this specific election has dire consequences.

The Florida governor has a direct path toward the 2024 presidency in front of him, and as long as former President Donald Trump is a liability for stealing and storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, DeSantis is sure to rise past Trump’s influence.

No matter the future of the presidency, one thing is certain: DeSantis will continue to sign off on fascist fundamentalist policies in the 2023 legislative session that threaten youth, trans, LGBQ, Black and migrant communities in the name of parental rights, freedom of speech and religious freedom.

With that, the need for the Equality Act is more important now than ever before.

DeSantis’s 19-point win over his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, was the first time that a gubernatorial election wasn’t decided by more than a “point or so since Crist’s victory as a Republican in 2006”, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

This “red wave” victory proved to the nation that Florida is a solid Republican state, not a swing state. However, Desantis’s victory left more than just a rippling “red wave.”

He spent a year mapping out the ways he could win re-election by suppressing and intimidating voters before election day.

In June DeSantis’ redrawn Florida congressional map was deemed unconstitutional. However, the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge of the map, which heavily favors Republicans, and stayed in place during the midterms.

“I am finding that the enacted map is unconstitutional under the Fair District amendment … because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect the representatives of their choice,” said Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith in a hearing.

At a bill signing in mid-April DeSantis said North Florida would be drawn out “in a race-neutral manner”.

Yet, race neutrality doesn’t exist; racism does.

DeSantis said the size and shape of the district was unjustifiable. What is justified for the district is reparations. The district stretching from Tallahassee to Jacksonville increased political power to urban and rural Black voters in a region that was home to the slave plantations of the 1800s. With SB 7066, DeSantis also used fear tactics to intimidate voters with prior convictions who were legally able to vote. The administration fear mongered eligible voters by very publicly arresting 20 voters of color for voter fraud.

Additionally, SB90, passed in April 2021, makes it harder for people to vote by mail by criminalizing the aid of retrieving and delivering mail-in ballots for Floridians who couldn’t do it themselves. Under this law, DeSantis eradicated secure vote-by-mail drop boxes, which 1.5 million voters used in 2020, according to ACLU Florida.

DeSantis’s rise to power has proven his autocratic style of rule is similar to Putin’s fascist Russia.

On March 28, DeSantis signed Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay (or Trans)” law.

“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” reads HB 1557.

Eight months after the law’s enactment, the Florida School Board of Education passed an amendment further targeting teachers who affirm LGBTQ+ students.

“This bill is about protecting our kids, empowering parents and ensuring they have the information they need to do their God-given job of raising their child,” Former state rep. Joe Harding (R) said in a statement regarding the bill’s initial passing into law.

Similarly, Russia’s upper house of parliament voted unanimously on November 24 to expand their 2013 anti-LGBTQ+ law, which is described as an “LGBT propaganda” ban. The law, which previously banned any advocacy or “normalization” of LGBTQ+ people to children in Russia, now expands to all ages.

Now, Congressional Republicans are attempting to take Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay (or Trans)” law from a state to a federal level. Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana, along with 32 others, introduced the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act of 2022” on October 18. The bill seeks “to prohibit the use of federal funds to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, and for other purposes.”

As long as DeSantis stands as Florida’s national emblem, the state remains idyllic for nationalism and populism to grow like mold on a home with a leaking roof trying to dry in humid temperatures.

On December 11, The New York Young Republicans Club (NYYRC) held their annual gala in New York City. As elite fascists dined with White nationalist US politicians and European ultranationalists and neofascists, they discussed a “total war” for control of the US, as reported Monday by Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch.

Donald Trump Jr., Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and far-right operative Jack Posobiec were the gala’s scheduled speakers.

“The party is in a pretty good spot, but America may not be getting it,” Donald Trump Jr. said in his speech.  “We have a party right now that is actually delivering for the American people. But what we don’t have [is] our same people in Washington, who can make those things happen.”

It’s this kind of alt-right organizing that has magnified LGBTQ+ hate, particularly online, with “groomer” content surging to over 400%, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation, a notorious anti-LGBTQ+ hate group, rewarded Florida for its destruction of freedom and democracy. Heritage ranked Florida as #1 in overall education freedom. “Florida is the only state with top-10 ranks in every category, including first in Transparency, second in Regulation, and third in School Choice,” the 2022 report card said.

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