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OPINION

DeSantis Is Busy Terrorizing Democrats, While It’s ‘SSDD’ With Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is terrorizing Democrats for several good reasons. 

First, although DeSantis hasn’t formally announced his 2024 candidacy, tactician Donald Trump has already proclaimed bombastically that DeSantis is running and what a lousy commander in chief he would make. But DeSantis has made Florida the destination state for many disillusioned liberals from blue states, saying, “the woke agenda has caused millions to leave these [blue-state] jurisdictions for greener pastures. Florida has, for so many of them, served as the promised land.”

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Second, DeSantis is showing leadership capabilities with results that shame the likes of Democrat presidential candidates-in-waiting (Gavin Newson, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Gretchen Whitmer, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders). They all know but won’t yet comment if Joe really grasps what is going on day-to-day. DeSantis has already become a known and important presence after campaigning for J.D. Vance, for senator in Ohio. Tickets to see DeSantis’s Rust Belt rally were devoured within minutes of their release. 

Third, while many conservatives still admire Donald Trump and would likely support a reprised new term for him; he has never seen a fight he wasn’t eager to pick. This personal bellicosity was developed from years of dealing with New York politicians, government officials and labor unions—if you don’t fight, you can’t win. In January of this year, Trump took a left-handed stab at Governor DeSantis during his first major campaign swing through New Hampshire and South Carolina, crediting himself for helping elevate DeSantis during his 2018 campaign: “Ron would have not been governor if it wasn’t for me.” He left out the fact that DeSantis narrowly beat Andrew Gillum in 2018 who had ethics problems and later was found with two other men in a Miami hotel room with methamphetamine and smoking paraphernalia. 

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Fourth, despite Republicans having a nearly 300,000 voter advantage in Florida, DeSantis won his last gubernatorial election by more than 1.5 million votes! Hispanics are an important and loyal constituency where he won by double-digits in Dade County (Miami), which is 69 percent percent Hispanic, mostly Cuban-American and Puerto Rican and also delivered on those hopes by winning heavily Latino counties north of Miami that no Republican candidate for governor or president had won in a generation.

Fifth, despite his many positive accomplishments, DeSantis has been the frequent subject of derision by many of Florida’s leftist newspapers—old habits die hard. Much of this has recently been because of the governor’s decision to recruit Citi Journal’s Christopher Rufo to ferret out the woke teaching (DEI) that permeates Florida’s state university system (SUS). As a professor emeritus at the University of South Florida, I have seen intimately how left-leaning SUS universities have become. By the time students matriculated to my upper division courses, they were filled with Marxist ideas from the de rigueur faculty ideology at USF. 

When DeSantis charged City Journal’s Christopher Rufo to diagnose the woke cancer that has metastasized throughout Florida’s State University System, Rufo’s first stop was New College in Sarasota. Rufo hit the nail on the head, explaining DeSantis’ dissimilarity to other Republicans in the 2022 election: “The answer, I believe, is that he has created a new model for ‘culture war’ as public policy, which combines popular media combat with competent, effective governance and a keen eye for...stoking the culture war.” He doesn’t engage in controversy for its own sake; his strategy is calculated and self-disciplined, proceeding only when he can accomplish his goals…to advance important policy objectives and to protect his constituents from the excesses of woke ideologies.

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Rufo first targeted New College in Sarasota. Roger Brown’s critique in the Sarasota Herald Tribune begins: “Each day, there is a gap in Florida that continues to perceptibly widen. It is the gap that separates what Gov. Ron DeSantis does largely to boost his personal aspirations and what he does to genuinely boost and improve the lives of all Floridians.” Brown intimates his failing newspaper is the fault of a conservative governor unearthing the dominant woke ideology in the SUS, not the fact that the Tribune’s leftist news reporting is not what its home audience wants. That so many residents from other states, particularly the north and midwestern blue states, are moving to Florida is prima facie evidence that they are disgusted with the effects of their local woke politics and media, wanting the kind of home Florida and its governor offer.

Sixth, DeSantis has also written a bestselling book at Amazon, The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival. He may not have built a real estate empire, but he is willing to share his template for success with the world. Whereas Trump is well known for his incendiary rhetoric covering any and all people, DeSantis is meticulous in his oratory. As Victor Davis Hanson surmises, “DeSantis’ meticulous attacks on Disney or Martha’s Vineyard are laser-focused, shorn of puerile put-downs, cul-de-sac extraneous tweets, and narcissistic fixations with past grievances and hurts…. keeping him [Trump] reactive and self-obsessed while DeSantis appears presidentially aloof from the mudslinging.”

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Unlike Trump, DeSantis knows both national and local politics. He represented Florida's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018 after graduating with honors from Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as a JAG officer and deployed to Iraq as an adviser to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of the SEAL mission in Fallujah, Ramadi and the rest of Al Anbar province. His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service and the Iraq Campaign Medal. How many presidential hopefuls have such legitimate and distinguished service in their credentials? Unlike DeSantis, neither Trump nor Biden ever served in the military. We might surmise that Joe was probably chasing Corn Pop and the Romans through his ever-present fantasy world.

DeSantis may or may not be pitted against Joe Biden in 2024, but eerily, Biden is retracing the steps taken by Florida’s state universities before DeSantis. The new Executive Order 13985, like so many Democrat-initiated woke initiatives, is sinister and parodic. This order is titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” enjoining the heads of federal departments and agencies to establish Agency Equity Teams within 30 days. National Review’s Rich Lowry argues this presidential order empowers ideological shock troops to bastardize federal policy across the board. Woke teams will “coordinate the implementation of equity initiatives and ensure that their respective agencies are delivering equitable outcomes for the American people.”

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The contrast between Trump and DeSantis is palpable, for the Donald is DeSantis’ diametric opposite. Trump engages in grandiloquence, picks fights because he can, and has been doing so for 50 or more years. He is damaged goods and can’t be put back together again because there are no new tricks he can appropriate. Today’s political odds are stacked firmly against him.

On January 6, 2023, Ron DeSantis uttered the now-famous commentary that shook liberals and their media enablers in their boots: “We have embraced freedom. We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers, and we reject woke ideology. We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”

Ron DeSantis is our future.

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