Ron DeSantis, Republican candidate for President, still refuses to admit Joe Biden won in 2020, supported election deniers in 2022, and denies J6 was an insurrection. Last week he announced that “on day one” in the oval office, he’d ‘aggressively’ review pardons for the J6 rioters, suggesting relief for those unfortunate victims of “political targeting.”
The darlings he would pardon stormed the capital, attacked police officers, carried zip ties, noose, and tasers, smeared feces on historic walls, chanted “hang Mike Pence” for his refusal to subvert the election, and chased terrified Congressmen into hiding. Stewart Rhodes, whose family feared he would kill them, received 18 years for his part in it. To DeSantis, these violent seditionists are victims of the left’s “political targeting.”
The irony is astounding. DeSantis has elevated “political targeting” to new and dangerous levels in Florida, weaponizing state resources to punish anyone who crosses him. Civil rights violations are so severe in Florida that the NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, League of United Latin American Citizens, and Equality Florida have each issued separate travel and relocation warnings to their members. Even more ominous than eroding civil rights, DeSantis has nullified the First Amendment.
DeSantis removed Tampa’s elected prosecutor for political speech
DeSantis was elected governor of Florida in 2018 by a hair. Despite his narrow win, he pushed one tyrannical mandate after another. He was re-elected in 2022 by 19% not because Floridians love him, but because the Democrat party basically defunded Florida that year.
DeSantis is known for his 6-week abortion ban, outlawing books, criminalizing health care, eliminating permit requirements for concealed guns, and persecuting his critics. DeSantis removed Tampa’s elected prosecutor for stating that he would, as the law requires, exercise prosecutorial discretion in controversial cases. Prosecutor Andrew Warren had written that he was opposed to Florida’s draconian abortion and transgender laws.
When DeSantis “fired” him for his statements - not his actions - Warren sued. After reviewing the evidence and sequence of events, a federal judge found that DeSantis retaliated against Warren for his pursuit of criminal justice reforms, his signing of an abortion pledge, and his affiliation with the Democratic Party, rights protected by the First Amendment.
Warren was a high visibility “political target” of DeSantis, who fired him for his political speech and affiliations, contrary to law, to court ultra-right supporters.
DeSantis persecutes Disney for political speech
DeSantis is also obsessed with persecuting the Disney corporation, Florida’s mega-employer and tourism driver, in retribution for publicly disagreeing with “Don’t Say Gay.”
After Disney’s CEO criticized DeSantis for outlawing the discussion of sexual orientation in the classroom, DeSantis yanked control of Reedy Creek from Disney, and gave control over Disney to a DeSantis-appointed tourism board. DeSantis claims Reedy Creek was a benefit Disney was never really entitled to, so the state could take it away for any reason.
DeSantis, a Harvard lawyer, either misunderstands the First Amendment or misrepresents it. SCOTUS ruled years ago that the government is not allowed to take away your benefits in retaliation for your political speech - ever - even if the government was never obligated to provide the benefits in the first place.
It is no surprise that Disney cancelled its $1 billion investment in Orlando, nor that DeSantis prioritizes his own political gain over his state’s economic health.
DeSantis has turned Florida’s education system into a laughing stock
DeSantis imposed state mandates on the manner in which race and gender history can be discussed in both academic and employment settings. Last November, a federal judge ruled that DeSantis deciding which “viewpoints are worthy of illumination and which must remain in the shadows has implications for us all.
But the First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints, and cast us all into the dark.”
Two weeks ago, instead of heeding the Constitution, DeSantis tightened the muzzle. Florida now not only bans certain topics from general education courses, but also guts tenure for “woke” college professors, and encourages people to report non-compliant teachers. It also expands the powers of DeSantis-appointed university boards and presidents, turning academic freedom in the State of Florida into an Orwellian joke.
This division isn’t necessary
I don’t want kids to feel responsible for America’s many crimes including slavery and the genocide of native people. But they should learn our history regardless of feelings, in part because ignorance about the past reinforces inequities in the present.
I also don’t want sexual orientation or gender studies taught in grade school, but they never were (unless DeSantis thinks observing that all Presidents are male is “gender indoctrination.”) Banning all classroom discussion means teachers can’t respond when students ask; can’t be honest about their own families; and can’t comfort a “different” child; often bullied. It locks gay teachers and their supporters in the closet, punishing students who have two mommies, a gay brother, or their own fears about ‘being different’ along with them.
DeSantis and his Tallahassee cabal have bullied women, blacks, professors, gays, transgender people, scientists, teachers, corporations, artists, drag queens, and immigrants.
His weaponization of state power against “political targets” is unmatched in Florida’s history. If scaled nationwide, imagine the destruction he would unleash.