Edward Bunch III
February 1, 2023
Ron DeSantis, the 46th Governor of Florida, and his colleagues in the Florida Legislature have been a mainstay in the press recently due to a number of abrasive policies and statements. DeSantis has been openly utilizing his powers as Governor to defund or threaten those who disagree with his ideology, seen by the thousands of public school teachers and university professors in Florida scared of violating recently instituted laws which are punishable by up to five years in prison plus fines.
Most recently, the DeSantis’ administration has come under fire mostly for their “book banning” enactment across K-12 public schools in Florida. This process has been activated thanks to a bill, which was signed into effect in March 2022, and that requires schools to be transparent with the state in connection with learning materials present in classrooms and libraries.
Specifically, by doing so, the Administration is aiming at pressuring schools into complying with either their or parents’/local school boards’ standards for what is suitable to be taught to children. However, what has surprised even more is the fact that this phenomenon will also be implemented in the State’s public universities, where DeSantis has begun to strip the Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs.
Prior to persuading the College Board into changing the materials present in their AP African American Studies course, a member of the DeSantis administration explained their definition of “wokeism,” possibly providing insight into why the administration is so opposed to it.
According to Ryan Newman, general counsel to DeSantis, the term woke means “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them,” also adding that DeSantis doesn't think any systemic injustices exist in today’s United States.
DeSantis has been vocal about ensuring that rhetorics like “Critical Race Theory” are unable to spread or take root in Florida, where his administration has taken action to reduce the visibility of content deemed to lack “educational value”. However, this has generated outrage among members of the Black community, who find it to be blatant whitewashing of history.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time DeSantis instigates a historically-oppressed identity group, as the LGBTQ+ community still remains irate following the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which he signed into law and recent policies, forcing transgender youth to de-transition.
Even if the collection of arguable decisions DeSantis has taken over his mandate has resulted in accusations of being a fascist, many among the rows of the Republican Party find his assertiveness to be a positive quality, one which is rarely found in today’s politics. A phenomenon that does not surprise though, as conservatives in and out of Florida have hailed the Sunshine State as a safe haven for right-wing ideologies, being fully embraced by DeSantis and his colleagues.
Following simultaneous scandals involving migrant trafficking and potential government overreach, DeSantis’ Administration has had a run for their money with the media and court of public opinion.
Despite public pushback on certain policies, statements, and actions taken in recent months, the DeSantis administration shows no signs of backing down from their ways. They have fully embraced Florida being the state where “the woke goes to die,” a statement proudly given by DeSantis following his re-election victory in late 2022.
Even if the polls depict DeSantis as the favorite among the Republican Party members, the situation could soon shift, changing the game in view of the 2024 nomination. Clearly, opinions on this relentless quality may play the biggest role in the Florida Governor’s push for a Presidential Nomination in 2024.
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