The popular governor from Florida on the media, elementary school education (indoctrination), woke corporations, and crime. Photo credit: AP/Ron Johnson
In a previous article, I debriefed an interview Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida completed with conservative talk show host Ben Shapiro. There were three initial areas of discussion I examined: DeSantis’ early years, his first political campaign, and the COVID pandemic response. Today’s article will begin with a look at DeSantis’ relationship with the media since he became governor in 2019.
From the beginning of his administration, but especially during COVID, DeSantis refused to allow the media to create and carry a narrative without some pushback. He did not accept them as the arbiters of truth since they had proven themselves so incapable of presenting clear evidence, rather chose to uphold leftist ideals regardless of what the facts indicated.
COVID cinched the matter for DeSantis. Once the reporters in Florida became emotional about keeping beaches open, he knew they were more interested in exacerbating the story rather than just reporting on the truth. As the governor said, tourists were escaping their locked-down states to come to Florida’s beaches. The media scolded DeSantis for not closing these ocean shores, but what was he supposed to do? It was a respiratory virus. Would it be better for people to be on the beaches congregated or in hotel rooms inside? With pressure from the news sources, many counties did eventually close down the waterfronts, but then DeSantis gave instructions to get them back open.
As he saw it, this was the game the media wanted to play. They would watch DeSantis make a decision, then they would criticize, hyperventilate about how dangerous it was, and try to point out the risks to which he was exposing people unnecessarily. As he summarizes the legacy news sources: “They have an agenda. They are coming at you in bad faith. They are trying to craft narratives. They are not reporting facts. And so, their agenda is partisan, their narratives are not constrained by what the facts were. And as much as I have not liked the media bias in the past, I kind of feel like 25-30 years ago if there were like some key facts, they would have to acknowledge those and they would shade it left to try to create the story there, but now they just ignore facts.”
He protests the media’s coverage of his rejection of a course being taught as African-American studies, instead of the press stating the facts about the course including neo-Marxism, Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, and intersectionality that just serves to indoctrinate instead of providing academic training. The media tried to frame his efforts as removing the teaching of African-American history, which is patently false since Florida laws require it. They even went as far as to say that books with African-Americans are not allowed.
According to DeSantis, “They are not gatekeepers, these legacy outlets, they are not umpires, they are active political participants with an agenda. And it is not your agenda. It is not my agenda…I will not indulge them as if they are honest brokers, they are not honest brokers.”
DeSantis’ calling card has become that of a cultural warrior. That moniker comes from the dominant media which believes that anyone who opposes their progressive agenda stands against what is good for America. In the case of Florida, the governor decided that kids in elementary school should be learning about reading, writing, and math. He did not think educators should be instilling in young children ideas about sexuality when many parents voiced concerns. To be clear, a bill aimed at muting sexuality topics and drag queen visits was working its way through the legislature. The Left decided to target kids in K-3. DeSantis decided to fight back against this, and parents liked it, including Democratic parents.
Disney decided to take sides when Hollywood activists and media stalwarts decided to rename it the Don’t Say Gay Bill. DeSantis refused to back down. Ultimately, the governor won re-election with almost 60 per cent of the vote. Safe to say he chose the right side to fight for, reminding big corporations, big media, and Hollywood leftists that influence and money only goes so far when children, parents, and family’s interests are on the line.
Besides his confrontation with Disney, DeSantis has also faced down other corporations for pushing the equity, diversity, and inclusivity initiatives that often characterize what many have called “woke” policies. The term “woke” has come under scrutiny from the Left because they have become defensive about what the term means.
Essentially, “woke” could be described as progressive enlightenment whereby a person comes to acknowledge their privileged position as white, a colonizer, or a member of the patriarchy. Those who have suffered under this regime deserve a kind of social justice that looks very different to many people in leadership. For one kind of leader, it may mean the creation of safe spaces where those who represent the empowered elite are banned. This means that only the voices of the victims or the aggrieved may be heard, in effect canceling those who speak a message that oppresses these casualties of the colonial conquest.
This philosophy allows books to be banned, words to be erased from our lexicon, events to be altered to fit a narrative more pleasing to the subjugated, and monuments, statues, or buildings to be torn down, renamed, or reassigned. DeSantis stands squarely against this and brings strength to his arguments. As he points out, the legislature reflects the will of the people, but corporations are intimidated into adopting policies and advocating ideas because of pressure they don’t think they can resist.
The squeeze only comes from one side. The companies buckle and that makes them an even easier target for these special interest groups. DeSantis advises the companies to tell these people to “go pound sand.” He maintains that these businesses should be standing up to demands that serve one agenda. Rather than surrendering and allowing the progressive elite to dictate the terms of engagement, they should recognize that most people are uncomfortable with most woke ideas, and preserving the best of the old order ensures liberty, safeguards timeless values, and protects our tumultuous history, both the good and the bad.
CRIME AND POLICING IN FLORIDA
In conclusion, Shapiro asked the governor to speak to the issue of crime. No other issue so muddied the waters as that which described defunding the police. Many Democrats ran on this and insisted that reassigning money to support police on the streets would be better spent on social workers and helping the indigent members of society who were unfairly treated and never received a fair shake. Once that started to manifest itself in thefts, thuggery, and violence, Democrats retreated into a different position, one that allowed them to maintain their progressive views while denying they were defunding police work. DeSantis, as usual, smoked them out.
DeSantis did not allow Florida to get burned down like so many other Democratic areas were vandalized, rioted, and set ablaze. He does not like the idea of “cops risking their lives to apprehend a criminal, see a judge release him and, then a week later have to risk his life again to arrest him for another crime.” He speaks out forcefully against prosecutors who do not want to apply the law, citing examples in San Francisco where DAs advise people that crimes like breaking and entering will likely not be adjudicated. In Florida, DeSantis already fired a prosecutor with this kind of philosophy. As a matter of fact, police who are recruited for Florida’s law enforcement receive a $5,000 bonus which probably explains why Florida has crime rates at a 50-year-low, while other jurisdictions are dealing with crime waves.
In the end, many reporters will interview DeSantis in the coming weeks. A lot will be said, but DeSantis’ message is clear: I am a winner, I want to beat Biden, I want to hire people who will work to make life better for Americans, and what I have done for Florida I can do for America. His record speaks for itself. The question remains, can he transfer his success in Florida to a national stage?
Dave Redekop is a retired elementary resource teacher who now works part-time at the St. Catharines Courthouse as a Registrar. He has worked on political campaigns since high school and attended university in South Carolina for five years, where he earned a Master’s in American History with a specialization in Civil Rights. Dave loves reading biographies.