May 26, 2023

When “Florida Man” appears in a news headline, cue some real crazy shit going down.

A Florida Man, Governor Ron DeSantis, has declared his presidential candidacy.

Call me an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, but I’m nostalgic for candidates talking about the actual, serious problems confronting the country. That ain’t Ron DeSantis. He’s made it clear he’s all about culture wars, all the time. There’s no culture war issue whose hot buttons he doesn’t try to push. Talking about real issues? Nah.

Our epidemic of gun violence is a real issue. But guns are also a culture fetish for America’s right. So Florida Man DeSantis has made his state (site of some landmark mass shootings — Pulse Nightclub, Douglas school) a permitless-carry gun nuts’ paradise.

The right has also whipped itself into an obsessive frenzy over trans people and other sexually nonconforming folks. This too DeSantis has fed with his “Don’t Say Gay” law. Feeding a professed fear of kids somehow being influenced to go gay. Could these heteros imagine themselves propagandized into same-sex lust? It’s ridiculous. Yet they’re supposedly trying to “protect” children against that.

Protecting them from, like, drag queen story hours. Hey — how about protecting them against assault rifles??

And during Covid, DeSantis actually worked to block schools from measures to protect kids against the virus. Largely thanks to his coddling extreme right-wing opponents of public health strictures, at one point Florida had a fifth of all U.S. Covid infections.

He has also engaged in bashing immigrants and refugees, with cruel bussing stunts (while having nothing constructive to say about the issue). He’s exacerbated racial tensions by battling against the phony bogeyman of “critical race theory.” (“Protecting” kids against knowing our history.)

He’s promoted book banning, signed a draconian abortion ban, and weakened press freedom and academic freedom. All while, with no sense of irony, painting the word “freedom” all over himself.

DeSantis said Florida is “where woke goes to die.” No, it’s where sanity and decency go to die.

For the Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis is up mainly against Mar-a-Lago’s Donald Trump, another Florida Man par excellence. This reflects the Floridamanization of GOP politics. The Governor’s chief selling point is that he’s more electable. If this is what’s electable in today’s America, God help us.