Florida Democrats face an uphill fight in 2022 to win statewide elections. Every single year, Florida becomes more Republican due to demographic shifts. While throughout the 2015-2018 period many Democrats tried to claim the state was becoming more Democratic due to the influx of Latinos, in fact as the state has gotten less white it has leaned toward the GOP more. We’ve discussed this phenomena and why the Democrats assumptions about demographics were over and over since 2017 on this site, so no need to rehash. The reason we bring this up is that the margin for error with messaging is gone for Democrats in this state. No more mistakes or sloppy campaigns that misinterpret poll data or just hit on issues groups funding the party want to talk about.
If the Democrats are going to win the Governorship and US Senate elections in 2022 it is going to be about Ron DeSAntis authoritarianism and failed COVID response, period. The control Republicans have enjoyed over the state for two decades has lead to an unprecedented amount of corruption and arrogance – which leads to authoritarianism and the response we have seen to COVID in this state.
CONTROL BREEDS CORRUPTION – THE POLITICS OF PRIVILEGE LEADS TO AUTHORITARIANISM FAILED COVID POLICIES
Ron DeSantis’ is an authoritarian. Period. Democrats need to call this out and also understand for all the whining about Donald Trump and Rick Scott, DeSantis is a far more ruthless, competent and dangerous adversary.
The danger DeSantis poses to the state of Florida is unprecedented in the years since a new constitution was adopted in 1968.
It’s unfortunate many Democratic legislators the last 20 years have “played ball” with the GOP and corporate lobbyists, but now is the time for the Democrats to without hesitation talk about the 20+ years of GOP rule as being about corruption, cronyism and the politics of privilege.
Many Democrats don’t like to hear it but Florida has been a one-party state at the macro level for two decades, and one-party rule has bred the excesses and corruption of Authoritarian states abroad.
The regime (we call it that for a reason) led by Governor DeSantis shares traits with that of Venezuela, Hungary, Turkey, India and Cuba – dictatorships of both the left and right abroad.
This has directly caused DeSantis’ obstinate attitude on COVID. DeSantis flat out believes the Democrats cannot beat him in 2022, because well it’s been almost 30 years since the Democrats won the Governorship.
It’s worth noting DeSantis is relatively young and wasn’t of age politically when the Democrats last controlled large portions of the Executive Branch in the late 1990’s even with a GOP Governor and Legislature. He wasn’t around when Republicans regularly clashed with Governor Bush, like then-Attorney General Crist (now a Democrat of course, and possibly DeSantis 2022 Democratic opponent) and several GOP State Senators that did not like Bush’s arrogance and arbitrary style of decision making.
DeSantis has felt he can act as a dictator because he does not fear the electorate and in the Trump era we have a Republican party whose officeholders are made up almost entirely of spineless, amoral yes men and women.
It is imperative that Democrats not treat DeSantis as an ordinary political opponent within the framework of the American Republic, but as someone who upon election began the process of usurping power from other places and has now become a largely lawless figure living in his own world, who can only be reigned in by the courts. Imagine how unhinged he will be if he is reelected!
To this end Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz had a perfect statement after Friday’s court ruling:
“Judge Cooper’s ruling represents a major victory for schoolchildren and their families all across Florida. It also validates the bold actions of all those courageous school boards in our state that defied an authoritarian governor bent on playing politics rather than allowing them to protect the lives of kids by enacting prudent health protocols.Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz, August 27, 2021
“Governor DeSantis’s unconstitutional executive order banning mask protocols in schools was born from a stunning combination of blind political ambition and stupefying irresponsibility. It is an outrage that Florida’s parents had to go to court to force this administration to accept the decisions of local school leaders to implement the public health measures they deemed necessary to save lives.
“Be that as it may, I applaud the Judge on his wise ruling, and call on the Governor to stop standing in the way of local school officials trying to do what is best for the health of their students, their families, and their employees. It is time for DeSantis to finally devote the time and energy needed to boost vaccinations across the state so we can begin to lower our COVID infection and hospitalization rates and save Floridian lives.”
We need more of this from Chairman Diaz and Democratic officeholders have to be singing from the same song sheet.
IT’S COVID STUPID
Florida is in August 2021, the global epicenter of the COVID crisis. This past week we recorded 1,727 resident deaths and as every reader is aware, we currently are in a position where critical resources such as treated water and oxygen are running low.
This culture of denial from Florida Republicans has deadly for our friends, members of our families and maybe even our children. Governor DeSantis who has disrespected the autonomy local governments throughout the course of the last year, has now through his own actions made himself the face and voice of those who believe the virus is “no big deal” and that private businesses and local governments have no right to contradict his extreme views on the issue.
At a certain point a few months ago, Governor DeSantis stopped promoting vaccines. Throughout June and July of 2021 he made a point of mocking those wearing masks through official items sold at his store and attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci. He spoke at the ALEC Conference in Utah touting a “free Florida“ and then as Florida’s surge became apparent, shifted his narrative to blaming immigrants and more recently has claimed masks in schools are anti-science while cases among those under the age of 18 spike to unprecedented level in the state.
From about June of 2020 onward, DeSantis hasn’t made a point of expressing any sense of empathy with those impacted. His tact has been to make himself those holding his views into victims, not the actual people getting ill or dying from the virus. His tact has been to encourage rule breaking, and a culture where those who care about the well-being of thy neighbor are ridiculed and even defined as criminals while those who selfishly don’t care about mass illness and death around them are the actual victims.
To win next year Democrats must highlight this and stay on message. While polling may indicate other issue resonate with the electorate, Democrats have proven sloppy in the past in how message on popular issues based on polling to sticking to themes related to authoritarianism and COVID are in my estimation the only path to victory.