America’s Distressing Choice

Governors DeSantis and Newsome clash in spirited political debate on the Hannity Show, highlighting policy differences and visions for America’s future. Photo Credit: Wikipedia


On Thursday, November 30th, two leading politicians from each political party joined Sean Hannity on his evening program for a political debate. The exchange of ideas, policy differences, and barbs served as a reminder. Civil, though spirited, discussions of opposing solutions to America’s problems can still occur. Governors DeSantis of Florida (the nation’s third most populous state) and Newsome of California (the country’s most populous state) squared off in the debate America deserves. The two men scrapped over their positions on various issues. They came prepared with information and delivered two very stark visions of America. The normalcy of the debate may have shocked some Americans after two cycles of watching debates based on personality, insults, and accusations. 

DeSantis characterized the differences between the states using Newsome’s father-in-law as a foil. Kenneth and Judith Seibel, Newsome’s in-laws, purchased a home in Naples, Florida, for 3.3 million dollars in 2020, according to Fox News. In the debate, as reported in the New York Post, DeSantis commented, “So, I was talking to a fella who had made the move from California to Florida, and he was telling me that Florida is much better governed, safer, better budget, lower taxes, all this stuff, and he’s really happy with the quality of life,” 

“And then he paused, and he said, ‘You know, by the way, I’m Gavin Newsom’s father-in-law.'” The Governor then made his point. More people are leaving California to come to Florida. That should say a lot about the quality of life people are seeking and experiencing. Newsome, of course, did not like this fact in his face. He tried to spin that the 750,000 who left California versus the 450,000 who have come to Florida represents something different than a choice, but his arguments fell short of the story the numbers tell. Regardless, the discussion allowed those listening to weigh facts and think about the evidence, leaving the viewer to decide who offered the better choice. 

During the next topic, Newsome’s accusations about book banning in Florida also met significant opposition from DeSantis. Newsome accused the Governor of being on a book-banning binge. He claimed DeSantis had banned six books last year, including Toni Morrison’s books. Newsome characterized the bannings as if Florida troopers entered stores, collected the books, and cleared out warehouses if they had them in stock. He failed to mention, as DeSantis correctly pointed out, that the books were being taken out of schools to protect children, not withheld from citizens who wanted to read them. As an example, DeSantis referred to a book, Gender Queer, a book that includes pictures blacked out for television. If television finds them offensive, what does that say about their appropriateness for kids in grades five and six? Newsome had little to say in defence. As DeSantis pointed out, the role of schools is to educate children, not indoctrinate them. “It is not to impose an agenda. It is to do the basics. And what we said in Florida is it is inappropriate to tell a kindergartener their gender is a choice. It is inappropriate to tell a second grader they may have been born in the wrong body. Now California has that. They want to have that injected into the elementary school. My wife and I have a seven, five, and a three-year-old. We don’t think that is appropriate. Most parents do not think it is appropriate.” Parents’ rights versus state authority. Again, the participants offered two visions, advanced their arguments, and the viewer could choose. 

The next section of the debate focused on the handling of COVID. Governor Newsome tried a sleight-of-hand strategy, but it sounded hollow. Using Donald Trump’s idea that DeSantis was a lockdown governor during the pandemic, Newsome somehow thought he could escape the noose of his tying while hanging all the negatives of COVID on Governor DeSantis. The argument became too cute by half. While DeSantis, like all governors, did lockdown at the beginning, the nation knows, thanks to a hyperventilating media, that DeSantis, Kemp of Georgia, and Abbott of Texas were all governors who returned their states to regular hours much earlier than most, sent their students back to school, and allowed businesses to re-open. According to Newsome, Florida, as he accused DeSantis, “…passed an emergency declaration before the state of California did. You closed down your beaches, your bars, your restaurants. It’s a fact. You had quarantines. You had checkpoints all over the state of Florida. By the way, I didn’t say that. Donald Trump laid you out on this. Dead to right. You did that. You followed science. You followed Fauci. He followed science. He followed Fauci. You were promoting vaccines. You even wore a mask in September. He did all of this until he decided to fall prey to the fringe of his party.” 

In other words, at the same time that DeSantis reportedly locked down more severely than others, he also failed to follow through with this policy and bears responsibility for thousands of deaths. DeSantis rightly pointed out that Newsome’s policies endangered the mental health and well-being of millions of students, drove businesses into bankruptcy, and forced thousands to leave the state. He also made hay of the Governor’s hypocrisy when he found it okay to attend restaurant meals at fancy restaurants (The French Laundry), banquets, fundraisers, and political events while Californians were locked down. 

Finally, on immigration, while Newsome took umbrage with DeSantis sending immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, DeSantis chided, “These liberal elites like to impose burdens on you. They don’t want to have to face the consequences of their actions. We have a lot of elites who want to open borders. Who lectures everybody else about it, but the minute they have to deal with any of the consequences, oh man, all hell breaks loose.” 

This debate brought to the table the issues Americans need to hear aired out in fulsome before the nation. Unfortunately, Mr. Newsome’s concluding statement probably sums up the immediate future for both men. Neither will be their party’s nominee. Instead, the American people will get a match-up between two men who have seen better days and likely will face health challenges, declining mental acuity, and legal prosecution over the next four years. Neither will debate the other. Neither can serve more than four more years. They both represent entrenched interests at this point. These Interests elevate the man above the nation. 

Mr. Trump has shown no desire to debate his Republican opponents. Can Mr. Biden hold a stage for ninety minutes? The chances of the two men having a civil exchange of ideas, laying out the choices for their audience, and making a clear case remains improbable at best. America deserves the debate DeSantis and Newsome provided. The closest thing to a presidential debate occurred on November 30th on a FOX news show. And neither of the men who will represent their party next year participated. It says a lot about the distressing choice before America next November. 

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