While I have a lot to say about Desantis, I want to start by talking about Disney.
Florida spent time to craft legislation to try and keep talk of homosexuality out of the grade school classroom. The story goes that the original legislation was specifically about anything other than a “traditional” heterosexual relationship. But it evolved so that it could be disguised to a point. Many people saw it for what it was. Some people defended it because it’s “not that bad” or “aligns with their personal views”…
But that’s the point. It aligns with one point of view. And the problem with hastily crafted legislation is that it always has unintended consequences. In the legislation itself, there are penalties to teachers and school boards for engaging on the topic. That can’t be good.
And there’s the outside consequences. Make no mistake: Bob Chapek bumbled his response to the bill. This could have gone a lot of ways and unfortunately for him (and the company) he picked the wrong way, annoying everyone.
The governor responded stupidly with a comment about producing a movie (Mulan) in China, telling Disney to mind their own business. And of course mentioned something he signed into law regarding corporate training; Disney can’t teach about diversity and inclusion, based on the law. More on that below.
Florida has (well had) a very incestuous relationship with Disney, dating back to 1967. Disney and the state generally played nice, though they sometimes exchange barbs. But until governor Ron and ceo Bob got tangled, it was typically ironed out quickly. Disney is the largest tourism business in the country and provides more in revenue to the state than any single business, and more than most combined.
…but now comes the consequence: governor Ron made good on the threat to undo Disneys special improvement district in retaliation for the hubbub about the so called “don’t say gay” bill.
Look, I’m not a fan of how the original legislation went down and how Disney has the power to operate as a self governing entity. But surely the answer is NOT to cobble together something quickly just to undo it. The (unintended) consequences to the state, to tourism, and to the theme parks we love would be monumental. And not in a good way.
The governor acts like a tyrant and has now shown that no one, no company, is above his wrath. He will go after anyone.
And for those reasons, it is time to vote him out. I’m sure he will continue to attack Disney and other large employers in the state. In fact he’s already stated his intention to continue attacking Disney
There’s too much at stake. We can’t let him remain in office.
Want more? Read on….
His history started before his election to governor. Everyone who was familiar with desantis knew he never finished things. He quit previous jobs and even quit Congress to run for governor.
He runs on 45s coattails and winds up winning in Florida by a slim margin of a couple of thousand votes. (And by the way, quit on 45 a while after winning)
One thing that helped him was this: a few years before, we the people of Florida, voted to restore voting rights to felons who served their time. The GOP and former gov Scott didn’t like that much, and dragged their feet to not allow it. Then, when desantis won, he told us he was basically going to spend every cent it took (our tax dollars at work) to ensure that they couldn’t just vote again.
And so began the assault on democracy, which culminated with a court throwing out most of the voting restrictions he helped create.
For some reason, the legislature decided he could draw new voting maps. Typically this is done by committees who review the population and ideally should just draw boundaries to represent that population. One person creating maps for political (and if we’re honest, racist) reasons can’t be good for democracy.
One of his platform items was not to allow fracking. Which he immediately reneged on, though there still hasn’t been any movement on that front specifically. Still, environmental protections appear to be no more than an inconvenience to him.
We had the surfside tragedy and he promised change. But over the course of two legislative sessions - and two special sessions - that was never discussed. Nor was the “insurance crisis” we have going on in the state.
Context: The state of Florida, after hurricane Andrew (in 1992!) saw many insurers leave the state and the state setup something called the joint underwriters (or colloquially "citizens insurance") as a stop gap. And it has grown every year. You have to have insurance to have a mortgage. No one writes policies. So...
Now our only choice is to ostensibly buy homeowners insurance from the state. Which is decidedly not a principle of small government.
The list goes on of course. The legislature also found time to pass a bill proposed by energy companies in the state, and the governor was all in on it. The summary: we voted to make it constitutionally allowable for homeowners to go off the grid and install solar. This new legislation undoes that; you have to remain hooked up to the energy company AND pay them a monthly fee of the revenue they “lost” on you as a customer. And there are other punitive things included. So much for freedom.
He also was a big proponent of the anti-riot bill, which essentially would give police broad authority (mostly under his discretion) to call whatever they want a riot. This one is tied up in court, but two things happened after. First, he proposed authorizing a private military under his direction (a militia if you will) to handle situations. And second, he was encouraging the trucking convoy to disrupt commerce because it suited his purpose. And by the law he signed, technically they could be considered rioters. And then there were the protestors at Disney of course. They were rioters under the law, but nothing happened. So tell me what this is really about?
And we have to talk about covid. Florida has the third largest number of cases and deaths (perhaps it’s even higher, there were shenanigans going on with the counting) so it’s relevant.
The governor decided that he, as an authoritarian ruler, knew all there was to know about the virus. That everyone was lying about it. And the state of Florida needed to remain open for business. He dictated everything the counties, the school boards, and even businesses could do in the state regarding covid. Small government? Hardly.
Look I’m not saying that anyone had this figured out. We had a giant social/science experiment ongoing. The problems I had were that this seemed (as I noted) very authoritarian disguised as “freedom” and that he was doing a victory dance on everyone. It’s one thing to be assertive and say “let’s try this” … it’s quite another to say “we’re doing this and anyone who disagrees can F off.”
There was also a story (which I can not locate) about his investments in companies that provided “alternative treatments” which would suggest he increased his personal financial portfolio along the way.
He fined people and organizations. He sued. He fired and then personally attacked a data scientist who was simply providing information. None of this is right.
And then, almost to underscore the point, he signs legislation that essentially bans abortion. During his assault on covid rules, he used the always-associated-with abortion statement “my body, my choice” but then signed abortion restrictions. Is it about freedom?
He also made clear that people can and should have guns, because you know, human life is precious. Contrary to his stance on abortion. He wants to add open firearm carry - without permits - in the state. This is something even guns rights groups oppose, so you have to wonder if this is really about racism and intimidation.
He continues the assault on our freedoms by imposing rules on schools and businesses related to what they can teach, or otherwise provide as training. And yes, I said on private companies.
He made a comment to the effect of you can’t make white people feel uncomfortable about things. Whatever that means.
He’s a tyrant and he’s dangerous. We must vote him out.
[editors note: the Florida legislature did hold another special session to “fix” the insurance problem and the condo issues. Again these were hastily crafted (over mere hours) pieces of rubbish that the governor can claim help - but which will need time to figure out. And the law of unintended consequences surely will be an issue down the road. So don’t believe any bluster that this will help. 30 years of mismanagement and poor legislation can’t be fixed in a couple of hours, sorry. And by the way more insurers pulled out of the state after the legislation passed, so you can see it had the opposite effect on the state]