Washington needs to change. The gridlock seems never ending, the ruling-class mentality is ubiquitous, and Americans’ contempt for Congress continues to soar. Enter: Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., who in his two short years as representative for Florida’s 6th Congressional District has made it his mission to bring about reform in our nation’s capital. But landing a seat in Congress was never something he had his sights set on.
Growing up, DeSantis always knew that working hard was the key to success in all aspects of life. Excelling at baseball opened the door to the Ivy Leagues for this self-described blue-collar kid, who, after graduating from Yale went on to pursue a law degree from Harvard. But it wasn’t until after his time in the U.S. Navy where he served as a military prosecutor that he began to think about running for Congress.
“When President Obama took office I was transitioning out of the military and just seeing that he was taking the country in a direction that I didn’t think was consistent with the Founding Fathers and with our constitutional roots,” he tells Townhall. “Having served in Iraq and having seen in Guantanamo Bay some of the stuff first hand, I thought he was approaching it the wrong way and our party was in need of younger leaders, particularly veterans who would be able to carry a Reaganesque message going forward.”
From day one, that’s exactly what DeSantis has been working to do.
As a freshman, he sought to prevent members of Congress and their staffers from receiving an exemption from Obamacare, thereby forcing them to abide by the same laws imposed on everyone else. While the effort did not succeed, it did go further than he imagined, he says.
Now, his focus has shifted to ending pensions for future lawmakers and those currently in office who are not vested into the congressional retirement plan. “There are hardly any private sector employees who get both a 401k and a pension,” DeSantis explains. “There’s just no need that Congress should get both.”
The road to reforming Washington is a long one, to be sure, and DeSantis is just beginning. In the future he hopes to offer ways forward on items such as term limits and a balanced budget amendment, to name just a couple. But how will he get others on board?
“The key is to focus on some of the younger generation, people who have not been in Washington for 20 or 30 years,” he says, “because they can see more clearly the gap that has grown between the American people and what goes on inside the beltway, and I think that if they understand that, ideas like ending pensions in Congress ... click."
Given the congressman’s determination to affect change in Washington, it should come as no surprise that he was one of nine founding members of the House Freedom Caucus, an invitation-only group that “gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them,” its mission statement reads.
DeSantis hopes to use the group as a repository for reform ideas based on limited government principles.
“One of the things that was missing from the 2014 election was a contract with America type of platform,” he says. “There’s a few things we know we’re against but I don’t think … party leadership has put forward a really coherent, positive agenda that reflects limited government principles, so I’m going to be using that to get some like-minded people together and start turning out ideas.”
Because Obama’s policies have failed, the new group will have plenty of opportunities to address budget and spending issues, the rising costs of higher education, devolving transportation and highway spending to the state, and other important matters, he explains.
But that’s not all this Florida congressman is focused on. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, protecting the American people and holding the country’s national security agencies accountable are also top priorities.
Even when he’s away from Washington, however, DeSantis says he spends most of his time reading up on issues and different bills they’re considering for the committees he’s on.
Serving the American people is a 24-7 job, but one DeSantis is proud to do.