For those trying to understand how Governor DeSantis could talk about stamping out woke education, defend gutting the voting rights act in the state, and keeping Florida “free” during Covid, yet side with solar rooftop owners versus one of the nation’s largest utility companies within one 48 hour-period, it’s because Governor DeSantis is something new entirely in terms of elected officials in this country.
The ideology of Orbán is pretty simple: consolidate power by circumventing electoral democracy, go hard-right on cultural issues, attack secularism, but go left on issues which working class voters care about – in Florida that’s attacking large corporations and appearing less reactionary on environmental issues than most GOPers (yes, in Florida unlike most of America, plenty of GOPers care about the environment, particularly because the state’s natural features which attracted many of them to this state in the first place).
Constantly the media gets it wrong, trying to pigeonhole DeSantis in a MAGA hat or claim he is “Baby Trump.” In fact, it is President Trump who is a toddler from a governing standpoint when compared to DeSantis. For all the huffing and puffing many engaged in during Trump’s Presidency, he probably did less tangible damage to this nation than DeSantis is doing to Florida, as crazy as that sounds. The Republican Party has long been bad for the average American, Trump didn’t create that, but DeSantis could be the person to take that to another level.
The governance style of DeSantis is squarely out of the fascist playbook from Eastern Europe. What exactly does this mean?
- DeSantis is solely concerned with centralizing power in his hands or in the hands of those whom he appoints or holds sway over.
- So this means very plainly, DeSantis meanders about in terms of traditional ideology. He’s conservative when it suits him, but what we used to consider liberal when it consolidates power in his hands. So preempting local government, moving left on the environment (centralizing power in his hands on this), taking on corporations all fits in his wheelhouse even if they aren’t conservative views because it gives HIM more power.
- This explains why we have in DeSantis a guy playing culture warrior at the same time as preempting local government authority, drawing his own redistricting maps and taking on the state’s most entrenched corporate interests. It’s pure Populism combined with Fascism, much like Orbán practices in Hungary and we saw Le Pen embrace this past month in France. It can be strongly argued Le Pen after years of pure conservatism moved in this campaign hard-left on economics, funded partly by Hungarian loans.
- DeSantis attempts at voter disenfranchisement and drawing of rigging political maps is right out of the Orbán playbook. It is precisely how Fidesz has become so powerful in Hungary.
- The early moves by DeSantis to remove elected officials in Palm Beach and Broward Counties for “malfeasance” but not breaking the law was a naked power grab to assert HE IS THE POWER.
- DeSantis has recently implied he doesn’t actually want business to relocate to Florida, which is directly contradictory to the bluster from his GOP predecessors. Whatever you think of that, it makes him different than other GOPers.
- He’s more formidable than anything Florida Democrats have ever faced, and given the track record of the party in recent decades, it’s hard to see the party effectively defining DeSantis to voters without some serious outside assistance.
*Note, I am not saying Trump didn’t want to do more damage than others, I am saying he did less, because he was inherently lazy and undisciplined and couldn’t pull-off most of what he claimed he wanted to do.