DeSantis is new to presidential politics but not new to politics. He has passed a right-wing agenda in Florida that is hard to square with what a majority of the country prefers. While his agenda will be very tantalizing to Republican primary voters, most pundits question how it will play favorably with a general election audience.
Among the items that DeSantis passed in Florida:
A six-week abortion ban. This goes far beyond the 15-week ban that the state enacted just a year ago. Six weeks is earlier than many women know they are pregnant. Even with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the woman, this ban makes Florida one of the most anti-abortion states in the country.
Extension of the death penalty. Florida is now the state with the lowest threshold for the death penalty. DeSantis signed a law allowing juries to recommend capital punishment with an 8-4 vote rather than a unanimous vote. He also signed a law making child rapists eligible for the death penalty, flying in the face of a Supreme Court ruling.
Gender identity, pronouns. This is an expansion of DeSantis’ “don’t say gay” law. It bans teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity, through the 8th grade. Teaching those areas is likely not in any school curriculum but it puts teachers in the position of questioning even answering student questions in a general way. This and other laws passed that affect teaching makes it difficult for teachers to even touch upon certain subjects, a regression of teaching openness that has existed for years. Teachers are left with a no-win choice: risking breaking the law or being true teachers, as they trained for.
Concealed Carry. Florida residents now may carry guns without a permit. This in the same state that had been moving toward gun safety measures after the murder of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., just five years ago.
Election changes. In the especially self-serving category, another bill changes Florida law and allows DeSantis to run for president without resigning as governor. Job security to the max.
Not only is DeSantis establishing a platform that restricts rights, he secretly has been using agents form his Department of Law Enforcement to enforce his agenda.
The unit was established to protect the governor and investigate major crimes. Recently, though, they were enlisted in laying the groundwork for a politically charged operation, ordered by DeSantis, to fly border-crossers from San Antonio (yes, the city in Texas, not Florida) to Martha’s Vineyard (yes, the one in Massachusetts, not in Florida).
Florida also has passed a bill that bans transgender people form using many bathrooms and changing areas that match their gender identity on penalty of criminal trespass charges.
This all on top of banning books, banning certain high school musicals from being performed and more.
That, briefly, makes up DeSantis’ agenda for his presidential campaign. Often, GOP candidates will take right-wing positions to secure votes in a primary and then back off them when it comes to the general election. How DeSantis backs off these positions, though, boggles the mind.
When taken as a whole, DeSantis is creating in Florida an environment that bans books, stymies teachers ability to teach, pushes one culture on everyone, takes away women’s rights, takes away LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more) rights, frees citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or certification they are capable to, etc. etc. and so forth.
DeSantis vs Trump. Quite a choice: a dictator-wannabe who uses the system to control people and limit their rights under the Constitution and a dictator-wannabe who ignores the Constitution to control people.
And people wonder why an 80-year-old president might be the preferred choice?