Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) noted on a recent podcast how the American voters who together with him took a stand against the woke agenda in his state ultimately left the Florida Democrat Party a "dead, rotten carcass on the side of the road."
While this sense about the Democrat Party's fate in Florida may have been confirmed by a glimpse in the rearview mirror, DeSantis nevertheless appears to be focused on the road ahead and on greater trophies than those hosed off the asphalt in Tallahassee last November.
DeSantis discussed his new book, "The Courage to be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival," on Tuesday's episode of Newsweek's "The Josh Hammer Show."
In the episode, DeSantis detailed some of the ways that Florida's success in combatting "COVID fascism and the biomedical security state," "wokeism," identity politics, and other debilitating attacks on America advanced by the left and ESG-bound corporations could possibly be scaled up, amounting to a rescue or a "revival" for the country.
The episode comes on the heels of DeSantis' visits to New York City and the suburbs of Philadelphia and Chicago last week, to discuss crime with law enforcement groups, and ahead of trips to Texas, California, Alabama, and other states — appearances that Axios claims amount to "a de facto campaign launch."
DeSantis contrasted his capture of the governor's mansion four years ago with his seismic re-election in November, noting that whereas initially his margin of victory was roughly 32,000 votes, in November it was over 1.5 million.
He attributed his success, in part, to his rejection of advice to trim his sails and avoid making "a lot of waves."
Instead of playing it safe and accommodating the sensitivities of ideological foes, DeSantis noted he went "on offense. ... That really ends up being a good defense, too, because a lot of Republicans are more likely to sit back. Media attacks them. Media defines the terms of the debate and puts them in a bad posture."
Recognizing that passivity was a dead man's game in the way of politics, DeSantis said, "We were constantly out there making things happen and really defining the terms of the debate. We did not shirk from issues."
"We've shown a knack for identifying the left when they're totally off their rocker, isolating those examples, and really protecting Floridians from the left's worst pathologies. People don't have to be Republicans to appreciate that," he added.
The governor recalled that Florida was a well-run state around the time he came into office, but the focus in Tallahassee was more of a "chamber of commerce agenda. You know: making sure that you're doing things for corporations and to make it a good place for businesses. ... A lot of those policies were sound, but I think we leaned in across the board, whether it's education— yes, fighting the wokeness — illegal immigration, all those different things."
DeSantis highlighted the populist and patriotic reasoning behind his efforts to send illegal aliens to Democrat-run so-called sanctuary cities: "It's a no-brainer politically for Republicans because, I think, pretty much working-class people of all different ethnicities agree with this," he said.
DeSantis added that he did not share some politicos' concern about possibly alienating Hispanic voters by enforcing immigration laws, saying, "I rejected that, so my first year as governor we banned sanctuary cities. ... This should have been done like 10 years ago."
As with ousting illegal aliens from the state, DeSantis indicated that the fight against identitarian leftism, COVID tyranny, and the transsexual agenda, particularly in schools, won him no favor with the corporate press, but instead won favor with the 4.6 million Floridians who turned out to vote for him.
DeSantis indicated that it wasn't libertarian indifference that won him the support of nearly 60% of voters, but a conservatism unafraid of using government powers to protect the good and the just.
He suggested that Republicans unwilling to wield the powers of government to protect the country may ultimately yield it to the "quasi public powers" exercised by woke corporations.
"They can marginalize you based on a conservative viewpoint," he said. "You should be able to live your life the way you want to in Florida, without having the left's agenda crammed down your throat."
DeSantis suggested that his administration's zealous fight against woke indoctrination and creeping authoritarianism secured for Florida not only a reputation as a "free state" but a "mojo."
"People have viewed Florida as a refuge. ... I think it has made the state much more interesting, much more dynamic, and I think it gives us a foundation to have a really good run," he said.
As for a presidential run, DeSantis has yet to announce his intention to go toe to toe with former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
The 2024 Republican National Convention will take place July 15 -18 next year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In a Feb. 20 Economist/YouGov poll, 43% of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of DeSantis; 36% indicated they held an unfavorable opinion. The same poll had Trump at 42% favorable, 52% unfavorable.
A Feb. 17 Rasmussen survey indicated that 52% of likely U.S. voters had a favorable impression of the Florida governor. Despite 33% of likely voters holding a very favorable opinion of DeSantis, he nevertheless trailed Trump by 13 points among Republican voters.
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