Don’t buy the whiny victimization, angry press conferences or indignant tweets from Ron DeSantis and his acolytes. The bottom line is this, the conversation nationally over HB 1557, aka “The Don’t Say Gay Bill,” is playing out EXACTLY how the Governor wants it. In a one party state like the Soviet Union, where DeSantis is determined to crush any dissent be it by protesters, corporations, local governments or whomever, he’s in control and has scripted the battle.
Florida’s reputation which has already suffered through the years, partly due to the buffoonery of the Florida GOP but also due to some very clear media bias against the state has sunk even lower during the discussions of this legislation. And this is EXACTLY how the Governor gamed it out.
The Governor loves the likes of HBO’s John Oliver spending long segments mocking him and the Florida Legislature, because it gives DeSantis, a performative artist, unequaled in modern US politics, the ability to play the victim. He loves The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and other “elite” publications or networks coming after him and the state. He can then spin it with appearances on FOX News, OANN, and on the pages of The Daily Caller, TownHall and other right-wing website.
He relishes Disney’s newfound voice because he can attack large corporations as “woke.” This is because despite his rhetoric, DeSantis isn’t a conservative but actually someone who believes in using government to enforce his own social preferences, which isn’t terribly different than Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Putin’s Russia is an orthodox religious state whose economy is basically a combination of crony capitalism and socialism.
It also takes critical attention off two other equally onerous pieces of legislation the Governor will sign – 1) The Stop Woke Act, which effectively puts Florida’s Legislature into every workplace in the state, almost inevitably curtailing needed conversations about race, gender identity and ethnicity. For a Governor that constantly talks about Communism as an evil, this legislation reads like the most perfect piece of Stalinism to me (Stalin’s attempts to whitewash identity in the Soviet Union by Russifying everyone even though he was actually Georgian and eliminating religious distinctions is what led directly to the current conflict in Ukraine we are witnessing). 2) The assault on reproductive freedom in this state which puts the state, not women or their doctors in control of a process to get a life-saving medical procedure done after a certain period and makes it more difficult in general to get access to critical reproductive health.
DeSantis is playing this perfectly and unfortunately for those of us in Florida trying to fight him on a daily basis, he’s winning – he controls the narrative and much like Vladimir Putin’s shameless courting via propaganda of the global south and anti-western imperialist forces during his invasion of Ukraine (this requires another full length piece on which I am working), DeSantis knows his base, knows the media, and ultimately controls the spin cycle.