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DeSantis’ assault on ‘leftism’ is totalitarianism in disguise

The Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate wants to "make America Florida." Yikes.


"Everyone knows if I’m the nominee, I will beat Biden and I will serve two terms and I will be able to destroy leftism in this country and leave woke ideology on the dustbin of history."

That was Ron DeSantis on Memorial Day, standing in front of a big warship, assuring Americans that, as your two-term president, he would “destroy leftism” and “wokeism.”

Let’s unpack that because that sure sounds like a massive federal overhaul of American life. And we already have a good sense of what that would look like.

In the most recent Florida legislative session, DeSantis and his minions waged a war on women’s reproductive rights. His administration supported book bans. He greenlit draconian restrictions on speech in schools. He’s pushed restrictions on Black history lessons. He's hurled governmental power at individual businesses to punish them for speech he didn’t like. And he made guns easier to access.

That’s what he’s done and what he wants to do to the rest of this country, per his own words: “Make America Florida.”  

Contrast that with Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, a man who is not running for president. In his state’s most recent legislative session, he moved to get families paid family and medical leave, increased funding for free school lunches for kids, passed tax credits for low-income families, strengthened gun laws, protected reproductive rights, and moved to make housing more affordable. 

None of that “governing” stuff is apparently appealing to DeSantis, even though Florida is in desperate need of the same help. Have you seen how much it costs to rent a place in Florida? What it costs to insure a home there? 

The logical implication of DeSantis’ statement about destroying "wokeism” is that if he’s elected president, the federal government would ignore your material and economic needs. Instead, it would micromanage every aspect of your life. 

So I guess the DeSantis administration would move to replace the boards of the thousands of public universities in this country he thinks are too "woke” — like he did to New College in Florida.

He’s going to need some de facto morality police to monitor what you read and to ban books in America’s roughly 90,000 public schools. President DeSantis would ban artistic freedom of speech, of course, and wield the federal government like a sledgehammer against businesses that do anything that displeases him and other members of the far right. A national six-week abortion ban? Make America Florida, huh? You won’t control your body anymore, ladies. “President” DeSantis will.  

There is a model for what this little dictator in the making wants to do: Just look at China, Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan or Iran, where the government censors the media, or force-feeds a strict, conservative religious ideology to children in schools, or deploys morality police to make sure you’re wearing what they want, learning what they want, doing what they want. 

That model also happens to have a name and it’s called totalitarianism, the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority.

DeSantis’ proposal would also require a massive multi-trillion dollar federal investment in a humongous bureaucracy to control and squash unwanted “wokeness." Let me guess: He’ll get Mexico to pay for it?

Freedom from Big Government used to be a pretty basic Republican principle, but I guess that went out the window along with respect for democracy.

This is an excerpt from Tuesday’s episode of “The ReidOut.” It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.