Florida Democrats have never met quite a match as they do now in Governor Ron DeSantis. While Florida’s Democrats are on a twenty plus year losing streak, they’ve often lucked out in terms of opposition and the use of power. DeSantis is a master of holding and using power in the manner taught to us in The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (pictured).
Governor DeSantis’ assault on private enterprise, local governments and accepted modern social norms is marching forward unimpeded (except maybe by an occasional court ruling) thanks in large effect due to the Democrats ineptitude in addition to party’s recent history of acting like anything the GOP does is the end of the world as we know it.
Jeb Bush was ruthless but also hated by large numbers of GOP legislators and routinely faced defeat on his pet issues in a Florida Senate, where moderate Republicans had the most power. Charlie Crist’s economic populism and soft views on social issues put him in direct alliance with the moderate GOPers in the State Senate and large portions of the Democratic Party – it’s no mystery why he eventually became a Democrat.
Rick Scott for all his rhetorical excellence which has guided him to three statewide victories, was a buffoon when it came to governance. Scott is better suited for the US Senate than he was to be Governor, because he never quite grasped how to use power to move pieces on a chess board as a Chief Executive. Scott annoyed Democrats with his rhetoric, but the state entered the 2018 Election cycle not terribly different from 2010 in terms of actual governing. That will not be the case as we enter 2022.
In Ron DeSantis, the Democrats are feeling the full wrath of a Governor who has power and bully pulpit and knows how to use it effectively. The previous GOP Governors since 1998 were by comparison just playing with power. They rhetorically say or do things that may have had symbolic or electoral value – but were tame in terms of reshaping Florida along ideological lines the way DeSantis has.
Much of DeSantis’ success owes itself to the changing demographics of Florida which have shifted the state further to the right over the last 5-7 years. But a chunk of it owes itself to a Democratic Party who along with aligned groups have consistently cried wolf for years about anything the GOP does or says – leading to a point where Florida’s population is accustomed to Democrats whiny rhetoric and victimization complex. Therefore critiques of DeSantis seem less credible than they may have otherwise, because the Democrats over-the-top apoplectic complaints of the past have numbed the public.
So what has resulted is DeSantis’ has a free hand to remake the state in his image, crushing dissent and disrespecting the media in ways we’ve never quite seen, even in the relatively (for the times) toxic Jeb Bush years.
Democrats and party-aligned NGO’s have long been well-funded to create certain narratives that marginalize Republicans. But for all the fundraising success these groups have had, they have failed to adequately define Florida Republicans to the electorate as a whole – also showing to Republicans they can engage in any sort of conduct and get away with so long as they dodge the legal system.
Florida Republicans hold no fear of Democrats either at the ballot box or in terms of navigating the political and legislative process to stop excesses. Years of Democratic ineptitude and whiny rhetoric can be directly correlated to DeSantis’ recent success. The Democrats aren’t going to beat him for Governor he thinks (not a naive thought at all), the only place he can lose is in a primary, so why not push the envelope?
Democrats have no real answer for DeSantis and in the void has come Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried whose unforced errors and visible early campaign looks more like that of a wanna be reality TV or YouTube star than a serious Gubernatorial candidate. Charlie Crist, from my vantage point as a concerned Floridian is very attractive but I have no idea if he’s politically viable or not – but I am basing my vote for Governor on who is best for Florida, not for Florida’s Democrats.
Since Democrats ineptness and constant whining does nothing to stop Governor DeSantis’ continued assault on our state and Machiavellian political games, Floridians are the loser. We need a viable two-party system to ensure Florida’s slide into backwater status is stopped.