Ideological attacks on public education are central to the politics of Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is carving out a brand as a book-burning, gay-phobic, transphobic, racist authoritarian. A Fauci-hater and anti-vax hero of right-wing media, DeSantis restricted instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation with his “Don’t Say Gay” law. He limited what schools can teach about racism and diversity with his “Stop WOKE” law. He rejected Math textbooks en masse for what the state called “prohibited topics,” such as critical race theory; and he banned an Advanced Placement course in African American studies for high school students on the grounds that it is a tool for “political indoctrination.” Playing the wannabe tough guy, he wants to troll his way to White House as America’s premiere culture warrior.
His Trump-style, pugilistic approach was rewarded by Florida voters who re-elected him by a 19 percentage-points. “Florida is where ‘woke’ goes to die” was DeSantis’s sinister declaration in his inauguration speech, weaponizing ”woke” to denounce any disliked policy from climate change to transgender rights, critical-race theory and the Black Lives Matter movement. He successfully appealed to the bigotries of the state’s aging population, who were sadly bamboozled with racist culture war stunts like shipping legal migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. They voted for a Trump poseur who performs cruelty for their enjoyment, but wants to cut off Social Security and steal their nest eggs from under them.
As governor, DeSantis has failed to expand Medicaid, leaving hundreds of thousands of Floridians without health insurance. As a three-term congressman, DeSantis was a fierce opponent not just of the Affordable Care Act, but Social Security and Medicare. He voted to strip a quarter trillion dollars from programs that allow retired Americans to survive. Like most other Republicans in 2017, he voted to cut taxes on corporations, high-earners, and wealthy heirs. As President, he likely would slash what’s left of the social safety net and use the proceeds to help the rich stay rich.
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