Tallahassee, FL — Governor Ron DeSantis delivered his second Inaugural Address on 3 January 2023. Standing in the steps of the Old Capital, DeSantis gave a ‘fiery address‘ in which he lambasted “wokeness” and “medical authoritarianism.” The 44-year-old Republican cited Florida’s strong economy, population growth, Everglades restoration, and disaster response as evidence of good leadership.
The ceremony kicked off with an artillery salute by the 13th Army Band of the Florida National Guard and a jet flying over. While Ron DeSantis cultivated a militarist ideological tone, “First Lady Casey DeSantis wore a gown with a cape and gloves, and gave off a Jackie O vibe,” as conservative PJ Media’s Jeff Reynolds put it. Unlike recent appearances, peppered by Trump-Esque hand gesturing, they were almost absent this time.
“When the world lost its mind – when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue – Florida was a refuge of sanity, a citadel of freedom for our fellow Americans and even for people around the world.”
“In captaining the ship of state, we choose to navigate the boisterous sea of liberty rather than cower in the calm docks of despotism.”Governor Ron DeSantis
In what another conservative writer, Paula Bolyard, called “a line which brought down the house,” DeSantis delivered a full-throated admonishment of wokeness.
“We reject this woke ideology. We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy! We will not allow reality, facts, and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die!”
“Now Florida’s success has been made more difficult by the floundering federal establishment in Washington, D.C.”Governor Ron DeSantis
Yet, at the same time, he also made appeals based on Lincoln’s Republicanism, anti-fascism, and anti-racism. According to the stalwart conservative, “the fire of liberty” refers to:
While typical of woke leftists to ground their ideology in post-war euphoria from the defeat of the Axis powers and the civil rights movement, DeSantis shares their disdain for what he calls “identity essentialism.”
“This bizarre, but prevalent, ideology that permeates these policy measures purports to act in the name of justice for the marginalized, but it frowns upon American institutions, it rejects merit and achievement, and it advocates identity essentialism.”Governor Ron DeSantis
One champion of Ron DeSantis, who could not attend while he winters in Hungary, was Conservative pundit Rod Dreher, who was elated by his reelection. In a column for the American Conservative entitled “Ron DeSantis Gets Real Fighting Wokeness,” Dreher talked up DeSantis’ 2023 appointments of board members of New College of Florida, one of which is the conservative ‘anti-woke activist’ Chris Rufo.
The plan, according to Dreher, is for the college to become the epicenter of conservative anti-woke politics. What Dreher doesn’t mention is that annual resident tuition at New College is $6,915 for resident undergraduates and $11,383.92 for graduate residents. It’s nearly $30,000 for out-of-state students. DeSantis is staunchly opposed to student debt relief or forgiveness calling the policy “divisive,” and “unfair to taxpayers without a college degree.” Although conservatives will hold more power over the liberal arts college, it will be unaffordable for the children of many conservative working class voters. If the governor’s address is any indication, “identity essentialism” will not be tolerated by White students.
It’s no surprise DeSantis feels that way. White people were not referenced once during his speech, instead discussing his opposition to federal government spending and covid vaccine mandates. Also absent from his speech were any concrete policy proposals for the governor’s second term aside from vague appeals to promoting ‘freedom.’
Since DeSantis became governor, the state has been at the center of controversy over social issues such as gender identity and public education. Compared with other solidly red states like Indiana, Utah, and South Dakota, Florida has been more rigid on the topic of transgenderism.
However, his tenure is not without its share of political stunts, such as the decision for Florida to ship illegal Venezuelan immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard to “own the liberals.” Florida has the third highest number of illegal aliens, although it’s also the third most highly populated state. Yet, an illegal immigrant is about as likely to be deported from Florida as California.
DeSantis championed mandatory e-verify, which would require employers to check the citizen status of applicants. The bill he signed excluded agricultural labor and would only apply to state agencies, public employers, private contractors, and their subcontractors. In 2021, road-signs were printed, which said: “Florida uses e-verify!”
A review of DeSantis’ top contributors on Open Secrets, reveals a typical trend for establishment politics. Among his top contributors are the Republican Governors Association, Walmart, the National Association of Realtors, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida Medical Association, with a smorgasbord of contractors and property developers. However, the largest category with $19,487,622 is an “organization unavailable for these records.” Both the Chamber and Restaurant Association were massive lobbyists for the bi-partisan pro-amnesty agenda, which failed in the previous Congress.
During his time in Congress, DeSantis’ notable contributors included pro-Israel groups, Koch Industries, and John Bolton PAC, which supports “national security conservatives,” like another Ron—Wisconsin, Senator Ron Johnson.
The Inauguration itself was sponsored by “Hartley and Ballard, Nick Iarossi of Capital City Consulting and Bill Rubin of Rubin, Turnbull & Associates,” the Miami Herald reported. “Other prominent sponsors included Florida Power & Light, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Brodie, and Craig Mateer, an Orlando entrepreneur and a member of the state Board of Governors.
“Some of the state’s largest businesses — from law firms and lobbying associations whose clients have obtained some of the largest contracts in state government, to tobacco companies, healthcare providers, retailers, auto dealers, and insurance companies — also were listed as sponsors.”
The demand by insiders, lobbyists, and speculators was so great, there wasn’t enough space to fit them all at the Inauguration Ball later, purportedly leading to complaints by sponsors unhappy with crowd control measures.
After massively outspending his Democratic opponent, former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, Ron DeSantis won a landslide reelection. Balancing the ticket is Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, who is the first Latina to hold that role. She is the daughter of Cuban immigrants who fled Fidel Castro. During her tenure in the legislature, she co-sponsored bipartisan HB 851, which allowed “the children of undocumented immigrants to pay the same in-state tuition rates for college as other Floridians.” The bill was passed in 2014.
Replacing outgoing Jewish Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Nuñez has been actively agitating against Venezuela with the exile community. There is strong speculation that DeSantis will run for President in 2024. Should he win and take office, pro-migrant Nuñez will succeed him as Governor.
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