Florida’s governor, Ron “DipShantis” DeSantis, in a bid to help win the state for his lord and master Donald Trump in the upcoming election, has been pushing some really bad ideas this week.
First, he proposed the Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, whose primary purpose seems to be discouraging and criminalizing dissent.
Among other things:
- It provides a loophole for people who run over protesters with their vehicles if they’re “fleeing for their safety”.
- You can be arrested for attending a protest where someone decides to pick a fight.
- You won’t be able to post bail if you’re arrested at a protest that turns violent.
- If you organize a protest and someone who attends starts a fight or engages in vandalism, you’ll be liable under RICO (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), which is not the intended purpose of that law.
While he’s not so keen on first amendment rights, the governor is a big fan of university students’ right to party. He wants a “bill of rights” to protect college kids who might get expelled for breaking the no-parties rule that universities in the state are trying to enforce.
“I personally think it’s incredibly draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party,” he said on Thursday. “That’s what college kids do.”
But proposing that we deny bail to protesters and charge protest organizers as if they were mobsters? That’s what corrupt governors do.
And finally, there’s the surprise announcement yesterday that he signed an executive order lifting major restrictions on restaurants. Local governments can still restrict restaurant capacity, but they can only restrict capacity to no lower than 50%, and if they’re trying to restrict capacity at all, they need to clear it with the state.
President Donald Trump found a new applause line at his Florida rally this week: “Normal life. O! I love normal life. We want to get back to normal life.” The next day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to deliver on that promise — or the appearance of it.
The Republican governor of the president’s must-win battleground responded 24 hours later by canceling all state coronavirus restrictions Friday without warning, catching local governments and epidemiologists off-guard amid their own strategies to keep the coronavirus contained.
As of yesterday, we had over 18,000 cases in the past 7 days.
I used to think that the mayor of the beach town of Amity from Jaws was a bit over-the top. “No real-world politician would be that deadly a combination of foolish, power-hungry, and popular,” I thought, but I was wrong. We’ve got them in spades right now, and the governor is among the worst of them.
As Florida author, podcaster, and former Republican strategist Rick Wilson tweeted five months ago:
1/ Look at any ambitious GOP governor — and all the one’s jockeying either for re-election, Senate, or a 2024 WH run (a la DeSantis, which is the worst-kept secret in Tallahassee) and they’re all VASTLY more concerned with Trump than with the health of their states.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) April 23, 2020
At this point, you’re probably wondering “What can I do?” And the answer, thankfully, is “plenty”.
- Just because restaurants can open at full capacity doesn’t mean you have to go. You can still support your local eateries by ordering “to go” or delivery, and tipping generously. And be sure to support mom-and-pop operations!
- Just because there’s a bangin’ party full of hot co-eds doesn’t mean you have to go. This is a hard sell to a college student (trust me, my own university career was Van Wilder-esque), but it’s not a true hardship, kids. You still have it easier than most of your forebears:
- Use your voice. Tell your elected officials what you think. Discuss this with your friends. Vote.
- Hope. The goal of disenfranchisement is for you to lose hope that you can make a difference and meaningful change, lose faith in democracy, and simply surrender to authoritarian power. Resist, take heart, disconnect from the internet and news when you need to, and remember Alasdair Gray’s words:
Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.