Why Ron DeSantis is the Most Dangerous U.S. Politician Today
Should we call him Ron DeFascist?
Ron DeSantis, the empowered governor of the great state of Florida, wants you to think he’s a woke freedom fighter. Many trending topics in conservative media inevitably find their way into Florida law. From protecting gas stoves to fighting critical race theory.
DeSantis’s efforts at regulating the latter are by far the most concerning. Championing himself as a conservative cultural warrior has brought him critical acclaim and decisive electoral victories. But it has also come at a cost. Not many of his voters may see it now, but how DeSantis has wielded the power of Florida’s administrative state is not aimed at creating more freedom. It’s reminiscent of oppressive regimes throughout history that have taken the dark road toward fascism.
Book banning is often one of the first steps. By controlling the minds of the populace, extremist political movements emotionally and intellectually conquer their voters. But before we go there, let’s first analyze DeSantis’s strategy to sell himself as Trump 2.0.
Why DeSantis is Trump 2.0, only more lethal
DeSantis not only can speak the populism of Trump, he can turn it into actual policy. Which makes this version of Trump 2.0 far more lethal.
Most likely, when he saw Glenn Youngkin use an education-focused platform to ride the electoral victory wave in a bluer state like Virginia, DeSantis realized his path to political stardom. As Donald Trump will tell you himself, when DeSantis first ran for Florida governor, he was a nobody. He had to beg for Trump’s endorsement. According to Trump, that is.
There’s no reason not to believe Trump (for once). DeSantis barely won his first gubernatorial race. His policy positions were standard for a Trumpian candidate in 2018. Lots of populism and “sticking it to the libs”, but few concrete and actionable initiatives.
If the pandemic was great for anyone, it was DeSantis. It gave him the opportunity to act against what he portrayed as an overbearing federal government intent on forcing all Americans to live like Joe Biden in a basement. After initially closing Florida, he rebelled against the federal government and other state governors who wanted to keep most of American society closed.
DeSantis’s voters rewarded his efforts this past November. During a midterm cycle where many Republicans underperformed - despite having all the momentum as the party not in power - DeSantis won decisively.
His big win though cannot be attributed to his actions during the pandemic alone. Where, by the way, many Floridians still died under his watch. DeSantis’s other big actionable initiative was protecting Florida’s kids from what he perceived as evil liberal forces. He wanted everyone to realize that liberal pedagogy was trying to indoctrinate their children.
Who wouldn’t pause to consider whether their kids were being brainwashed? There are few things that will aggravate people more than victimized children. Remember, that’s how QAnon first started its crusade. Warning people of liberal cabals filled with pedophiles. It’s why a far-right extremist attacked a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor thinking it was a home base of this cult.
Like Glenn Youngkin before him, DeSantis wants to appear reasonable enough to attract more moderate voters, but populist enough to win the QAnon wing of the Republican party. So he has shrewdly organized his political platform around America’s children. He’s even brought outsiders into Florida and placed them on state boards charged with educational oversight.
Some of what DeSantis has banned might seem reasonable at first. For example, nobody in kindergarten or even third grade probably needs instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation. But do schools really need the state to ban it? Whatever happened to Republicans not wanting government interference in daily life?
Many of DeSantis’s other restrictions are far more troubling. For instance, limiting what schools and employers can teach about racism and other aspects of history. DeSantis’s administration has even rejected math textbooks en masse for what the state called “indoctrination.” There were too many black and brown people in story problems, I guess.
Most recently, DeSantis banned an Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American studies. DeSantis didn’t tell his voters that AP courses like this one are designed by hundreds of academics, not liberal politicians. There’s no evidence anyone has a political agenda with the course. Teaching young Americans about African American plight and challenges throughout history is a harsh reality that more of us need to appreciate and understand.
But DeSantis wants to ban it. He wants to end diversity and inclusion programs. He wants students primarily to focus on teachings about western civilization. Even though, in my view at least, there’s more to be gained from eastern philosophies.
Who is indoctrinating whom?
Why fascists ban books and corrupt the youth first
When the Nazis first rose to power in 1930s Germany, one of the first moves they made was to restrict countervailing viewpoints. In fact, they burned them.
Anything at odds with Nazi ideology was burned, including books written by Jewish, communist, and liberal authors.
And do you know who did most of the burning?
The German Student Union. They were fighting for a “pure” national language and culture. They demanded that German universities serve as centers for German nationalism. They viewed Jewish and other countervailing ideologies as dangerous threats to traditional German values.
Any of this sound familiar to the traditional values DeSantis, Youngkin, and other Republicans are arguing for today?
Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels described everything that was banned and burned as “intellectual filth.” When students had finished with their school libraries, they turned to independent bookstores. Libraries and bookstores could no longer stock their shelves with books that did not meet Hitler’s standards.
Similarly, many teachers in Florida are now afraid to stock the wrong books in their classroom libraries. It’s understandable because they face felonies if they do. This is probably why teaching vacancies have climbed in Florida from nearly 2,000 to over 5,000 in just two years. Some 100,000 Florida students are now missing out on a full-time teacher.
Banning and burning books was more than spectacle and propaganda in Nazi Germany. It was designed to mold the minds of Germany’s youth.
Much has been told and written about the Hitler Youth. It was a crucial pillar in Nazi society. Children were so strongly indoctrinated that they were even encouraged to report their parents for violating Nazi ideology or societal norms. By controlling minds when they’re young, it’s more likely they’ll remain under state control as they age.
And how can you blame them? They don’t know any better. This is why any nationalistic, fascist society wants to control the youth first. Children are the gateway to their parents and the rest of society.
The most dangerous U.S. politician today
Trump is trying to make Ron DeSanctimonious stick. Like “fetch.” But it’s far less catchy than Jeb “Low Energy” Bush and Lyin’ Ted Cruz.
There’s a better name for Ron. One that captures his trending political ideology. The only problem for Trump is that it also captures what Trump made mainstream in the modern Republican Party. Fascism.
Ron DeFascist is the most dangerous U.S. politician today because he uses Trump’s populism with fascist practicality. Just like the Nazis before him, DeSantis is targeting children first. He knows this will not only scare parents but will indoctrinate them too. He knows the boogeyman of critical race theory and woke liberal ideology will play well in his favor at the dinner table.
And it makes some sense. Higher education is notoriously liberal aside from a few schools. But as anyone who has spent time in a liberal arts course in college knows, good professors encourage critical thinking. They want to be challenged. They want tough questions from students.
Courses about gender, history, race, philosophy, and related disciplines are not designed to indoctrinate. They are meant to challenge preconceived notions and latent biases. They are intended to develop more well-informed and well-rounded students.
By removing this course material, Desantis and others have drawn a red line in the sand, telling young people what is the right and wrong history. What is the right way to live (heterosexually) and what is the wrong way to live (trans or homosexually).
In a liberal society - not in terms of political ideology, but in thought - there must be opportunities to explore all forms of ideas. Otherwise, society ceases to be open, free, and liberal. And it can easily descend into fascism.
So while Ron Desantis wants people to think he’s a woke fighter trying to protect peoples’ children, his actions suggest something far more sinister. His wielding of state administrative power is not creating a freer society. It is planting the seeds of a fascist one.