Nel's New Day

March 26, 2023

DeSantis, the Force-Feeder

For months, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who still hasn’t declared his presidential candidacy for 2024, appeared to be the new Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). While DDT went down in the polls, DeSantis rose amidst his outrageous stunts. Hubris may have attacked him.

A week ago, DeSantis trailed 39 percent to 47 percent for DDT in a survey of GOP or GOP-leaning independent registered voters, down from his 45 percent to 41 percent lead six weeks earlier. Polls including former VP Mike Pence, not yet declared, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley dropped DeSantis another seven percent to 32 percent. A Monmouth poll is even worse for DeSantis who has only 27 percent compared to DDT’s 27 percent. Last December, DeSantis led DDT, 39 percent to 26 percent.

DeSantis’ policies are also unpopular: more respondents opposed rather than favored seven out of his eight signature policies from 36 percent support for requiring review of public school books down to 21 percent for “granting political appointees the power to fire tenured faculty members at public colleges and universities at any time and for any reason”). Only 30 percent believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a “territorial dispute,” and only 32 percent think “the conflict is none of America’s business.” Other “favorability” for DeSantis’ policies:

  • 35 percent: banning majors or minors in critical race theory and gender studies in public education.
  • 34 percent: banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
  • 32 percent: Banning public higher education from promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • 22 percent: concealed firearm carry without license or safety training.

The backlash to DeSantis’ comment about “territory dispute” in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and polls may have led to his revaluating his strategy and messaging. Part of his problem comes from DDT’s typical vicious attacks against him, including his position to reduce Social Security and Medicare. During an interview with Piers Morgan, DeSantis flipflopped on his support of Russia, calling its president Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” who “should be held to account.”

In a Daily Beast op-ed, conservative columnist Matt Lewis reported how DeSantis will have trouble when he leaves the bubble of his own state where he uses the governor’s mansion as “a form of protectionism” while keeping critics at arm’s length. Lewis thinks DeSantis doesn’t have the killer instinct to vanquish DDT:

“You don’t slay dragons with logic. You need guts, heart, and a razor-sharp sword (or, in this case, tongue).”

DDT has lambasted DeSantis’ Florida being among the worst states for education, crime, and health. Fact checking shows that DDT is wrong, but MAGA folk never worry about facts. DDT’s approach appears to be paying off.

Well known for his “don’t say gay” policy for youth in schools, DeSantis wants to expand the law through high school, blocking any reference about LGBTQ+ people up through the age of 18. His most recent ban, however, has created even more publicity. A Tallahassee charter school principal was fired after parents complained about a photo of Michelangelo’s statue of David was shown to sixth-grade students as part of mandated curriculum about Renaissance art. They claimed the sculpture is “pornographic.” The Tallahassee Classical School states it is committed to “training the minds and improving the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.”

Another part of sex education targeted in Florida’s schools is blocking references to menstrual cycles before sixth grade. The legislator who proposed the bill said that children could not have conversations in school before sixth grade although girls sometime typically begin menstruating between the ages of 10 and 15, sometimes earlier. Over half of Florida’s high school seniors have had sexual intercourse, and half of those who are sexually active didn’t use condoms during their most recent sexual encounters. The state promotes only abstinence education.  

The white students who DeSantis wants to protect have become a minority in his state. Sixty-three percent of Florida’s students are minorities.

Columnist Michael Cohen describes the state of the place DeSantis calls “the citadel of freedom”:

“The reality is a policy agenda defined largely by pettiness, cruelty and a disturbing disregard for basic democratic norms. If states are the so-called laboratory of American democracy, then Florida is the meth lab of American democracy.”

Following are bills or laws passed by the party of small government to take freedom from Floridians:

Require all bloggers who write about elected state officials to report who is paying them and register with the state. (Backlash caused DeSantis to say he didn’t support the bill.)

Reverse gun safety laws passed after the school shootings, dropping the minimum age to buy rifles and other long guns back to 18 and allow permitless-carry. The only gun-free zone in Florida is where legislators work.

Force public employers to prioritize work experience over higher education when hiring—except for legislators.

Block drag shows because it “sexualizes” children.

Limit lawsuits unless parents want to sue school districts and workers for violating DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act and ease up ways to sue the press for defamation. The bill specifically says that publications can’t use truth as a defense in anti-LGBTQ+ statements by citing the person’s “constitutionally protected religious expression or beliefs” or “a plaintiff’s scientific beliefs.”

Override local government environmental regulations to protect springs, rivers, aquifers, and wetlands such as limits on size of ships and number of passengers arriving daily in the Keys.

Guarantee only a conservative education in public schools and higher education. The conservative group Florida Citizens Alliance argued that the state reject 28 of 36 textbooks reviewed by its volunteers because of too many references to slavery in a fifth-grade book and too much “negative” perspectives of Native American treatment in an eighth-grade book.  

Make Florida dumb by eliminating race from education. Only Western civilization can be taught, erasing cultures from most continents.

Allow state courts to take trans minors from parents inside or outside the state if the child receives or is “at risk” of receiving gender-affirming healthcare.

Repeal in-state tuition for Dreamers.

Decertify the Democratic party because it endorsed slavery before the Civil War before the two major parties flipped positions.

Block all government investment decisions based on “environmental, social and governance” (ESG) standards.

Conceal all DeSantis’ travel records as he heads into a presidential campaign.

Individuals and groups are fighting back against DeSantis’ draconian laws.

Grace Linn, 100, went before the Martin School District, to fight the removal of 80 books from the schools and talked about how her husband died in World War II when he was 26 in the fight for the U.S. to protect freedom, including that to read. Fear of knowledge is the reason books are banned or burned, she said. The photograph shows her quilt of covers for books that the district has been trying to ban. The freedom to read, Linn said, is an essential right and duty of our democracy, “even though it is continually under attack.” Ironically, Jodi Picault’s The Storyteller was one of the books with Jewish themes removed from the district. With no sex, the novel is set during the Holocaust. One parent, the head of the Moms for Liberty, was responsibility for all the removals.

Member organizations of the Florida NAACPNAACP passed a travel advisory against visiting or moving to Florida. The proposal now goes to the national NAACP board.  


One of DeSantis actions was to take over Walt Disney’s taxing district and assign his political minions to control it. The company plans to host an annual major conference for the next two years promoting LGBTQ+ rights with executives and professionals from the world’s largest companies in attendance. The Out & Equal Workplace summit, which is expected to draw over 5,000 attendees and is sponsored by companies like Apple, Walmart, and Amazon, markets itself as “​​the preferred place to network and share strategies that create inclusive workplaces.” 

The anti-woke campaign may be failing. A poll from early March shows that 56 percent of people consider the term positive, meaning “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.” Over one-third of Republicans agree. Majorities of voters also oppose legislative punishment of companies supporting abortion rights and other progressive issues. The GOP calls for “parents’ rights,” but they want rights for only those parents who agree with them. The percentage of evangelicals has also shrunk from 23 percent in 2006 to a little over 13 percent now.

If DeSantis becomes U.S. president, everyone in the nation will be subjected to his dictatorship, eradicating anything that he or other conservatives don’t like and calling it freedom. In his 20s, after DeSantis groomed his students during a year of being a teacher, he became a JAG lawyer and went to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he advocated force-feeding prisoners who had gone on a hunger strike to opposed horrific conditions. Force-feeding has been determined a form of torture. In his memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo, Mansoor Adayfi, imprisoned at GitMo for 14 years, describes the force-feeding process and DeSantis watching and smiling. DeSantis advocated imprisonment outside the legal system where few detainees were charged and most were released.

DeSantis is still “force-feeding” Florida, and he wants to do it to the U.S.

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