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Horowitz: Why Byron Donalds’ comment regarding Florida’s education successes is so problematic
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Horowitz: Why Byron Donalds’ comment regarding Florida’s education successes is so problematic

Identity politics and corporate politics. Those are the two Achilles’ heels of the entire Republican Party, including some of the few committed conservatives.

Ron DeSantis is the first politician in a generation to punch through those two impediments to success – not as a talk show host but as the governor of the third-largest state. Rather than celebrating this new paradigm of success and elevating his example as the new baseline for Republican governance, Republicans are now ignoring his success at best or downright joining in with left-wing attacks at worst – simply to appease one man. Or worse, they are appeasing the barking dogs that have prevented red states from becoming truly red for decades.

It's very easy to rail against the woke left. Leftists have become so extreme, absurd, and destructive that one could easily still be far from the truth and righteousness in this era but still disdain their most odious attributes. To actually implement a governing agenda diametrically opposed to them and withstand the pressure in doing so is much harder. In fact, it is so hard that no other governor aside from DeSantis has actually implemented a conservative governing agenda across the spectrum of issues.

Rather than simply complaining about critical race theory, DeSantis has revamped the education system in multiple ways, including rewriting the African-American studies curriculum for the state. While most Republicans will refuse to do the right thing even on issues that could obliquely become racially charged, DeSantis had no problem grabbing the racialized AA curriculum and even forcing changes to AP African-American studies. No other governor would have had the guts to do so.

In comes Kamala Harris and, during a visit to the state, accuses the governor of promoting virtues of slavery because of a point made in the curriculum that the skills built by the former slaves helped them thrive after the Civil War. Of course, this same point is taught in the official AP African-American course, but it did not stop the left from feigning outrage as if the course promoted slavery.

Much like with DeSantis’ fight with Disney, this should have been an all-hands-on-deck moment for conservative media. Historically, every accusation of racism on something this sensitive would be met with a swift retreat and apology from the GOP official – like a child running from a barking dog. But DeSantis has broken the mold with both corporate politics and identity politics. He smartly builds a parallel policy, implements it efficiently with smart and principled political appointees within state government, and then refuses to back down.

We simply don’t find this leadership in any other red state. This is why a modest bill to end affirmative action in state government in Arkansas was summarily defeated in the state House because Republicans cowered from accusations of racism by the state’s legislative black caucus.

To begin with, the silence of conservative media in covering DeSantis’ successes in recent months has been as jarring as it is appalling. But when Rep. Byron Donalds suddenly and shockingly took the side of Harris, that crossed a red line. Donalds said that while the new standards approved by Florida are “good, robust, & accurate,” “the attempt” of the curriculum to “feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted.” Despite the revelation that the College Board and Encyclopedia.com contain the same passages, Donalds has not recanted his statement.

Donalds is no liberal Republican. He is a member of the Freedom Caucus who joined the rebellion against Kevin McCarthy. What is so gut-wrenching about his betrayal – siding with Harris as the only black Republican from Florida – is that it demonstrates why we can never achieve conservative governance. Even the best Republicans are too scared to actually implement a competing agenda to the left and be willing to stand up to the pressures of the race industry and the Chamber of Commerce.

You want to know why every other GOP-controlled state promotes green energy? It’s corporate politics. Meanwhile, DeSantis vetoed an electric vehicle bill from his own GOP legislature.

You want to know why every other GOP state backs down when it comes to enforcing employment laws against illegal aliens while DeSantis swiftly implemented enforcement? It’s corporate politics mixed with racial politics.

You want to know why Florida is the only state that has stood up to the biomedical security state and the only state with a health director who challenges the safety of the vaccine?

It’s corporate politics, given that the largest employers in most states are health cartel industry companies.

You want to know why no other governor is willing to veto jailbreak legislation? It’s racial politics about incarceration levels of black people.

You want to know why most red states refuse to cut welfare programs or corporate subsidies while DeSantis vetoes them all the time? Racial politics and corporate politics.

Every weakness in red-state governance is linked to one of those two vices. Until we are willing to reward rather than rebuke those willing to stand up to the race and corporate cartels, red states will be nothing more than anti-abortion and pro-gun versions of the left. It’s why every Republican will wax poetic about the need to uproot anti-white bias from our government and education, but none will have the guts to actually do it.

There’s been a noticeable shadow-banning of DeSantis among conservative media types since the primary kicked into high gear. Even when he achieves rare victories we’ve all dreamed of for decades, they are not newsworthy. The Disney fight, for example, is emblematic of why Florida is different from other red states, where the governors are not only scared to battle the largest employers in the state but will actually reject conservative policies based on their lobbying. When Trump sided with Disney over DeSantis, there was deafening silence from nearly every conservative media figure.

Byron Donalds is a big supporter of Trump. That is totally fine. However, following Donalds’ statement echoing the inaccurate and racially pandering slander about Florida’s new curriculum, conservative influencers need to think long and hard about what they are willing to sacrifice for the promotion of Trump in this primary. It’s OK to support Trump. There are certainly good things he did as president. But don’t feel that your support of Trump necessitates that you must suddenly be at peace with some of his liberal positions. Conversely, don’t accept the urge to suddenly ignore or even disdain DeSantis’ accomplishments in Florida simply to promote your man in the primary.

This is much greater than the presidential primary. We’ve been working for a generation to get Republicans to actually govern in accordance with our values. We’ve failed to find leaders who have the principles, the backbone, the intellect, the focus, the attention to detail, the ability to appoint competent and principled leaders like Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and Secretary of Education Manny Diaz in any other state. The DeSantis Florida story is truly unique, even though it should be the standard baseline for a red state. Let’s raise the bar rather than lowering it or losing our moral and political compass altogether.

Let the primary be a race to the top for each candidate to compete for our highest values, not a raise to the bottom for us to lower our standards to comport with the flaws of human beings. Are elections ultimately a means to something greater we are trying to achieve, or are they a vapid end to itself?

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