Ron DeSantis apparently wants to be president. His argument is based on the “Florida model”, what he has done as governor of the state.
But the assumption that the American majority wants much of the DeSantis program is shaky. It’s not even clear that Floridians do.
A Pew poll shows that 56% of Floridians support legal abortion in all or most cases. And that was taken before DeSantis actually outlawed abortion. Polls also show that the majority of Floridians oppose concealed and unauthorized carry. Thanks to DeSantis, angry shoppers who backbite each other at Publix can hide weapons of war in their backpacks.
One doubts that many Floridians lose sleep over drag queens. (I don’t think about drag queens for months at a time.) But strictly regulating them is a DeSantis obsession that he includes in his plan.
More troubling are his insane attacks on businesses, and of all businesses, his state’s largest taxpayer and private employer, The Walt Disney Co. As for his jihad against Disney, I just can’t explain it.
Then there’s his ban on vaccination mandates. He even mocks Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed program for developing a COVID vaccine, one of the former president’s few glories. With the virus largely at bay, there are already few mandates. But amid the pandemic, DeSantis has banned cruise companies operating in his state from requiring proof of COVID vaccinations. Can you imagine the pressure on businesses trying to attract older customers to a crowded ship during a life-threatening pandemic?
DeSantis has apparently never had a serious job in the private sector.
Now onto Florida politics. Florida has not become a solid red state as experts confidently claim. Barack Obama has won the state twice, and a Democrat has just been elected mayor of Jacksonville, the state’s largest city. Joe Biden believes that Florida is at stake in 2024, and his political antennae are quite sensitive.
As for DeSantis’ dominant victory in 2022, he was up against a ghost candidate and a Democratic Party that couldn’t find a pulse. In 2018, he defeated Andrew Gillum, an ethically challenged Democrat who had called for the abolition of ICE, the immigration enforcement agency. Even then, he won by less than a point.
Densely populated South Florida is not the American South. It associates with northern immigrants who may like Florida’s lower taxes and its February weather. And they may not like left-wing fringe ideas about gender pronouns and such.
I know many of these people, and one thing they want is access to abortion. And her reasons go beyond wanting a way to end the unwanted pregnancy of her 16-year-old daughter. They can afford to, even if it means a trip back to New Jersey.
But they do understand that abortion bans force most poor women to have children they cannot afford. Unwanted children living in poverty are more likely to fall into crime and other dysfunction. These voters know that even in a state with a thin social safety net, the bills come their way.
Meanwhile, Florida is one of only 11 states that has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, thanks in part to DeSantis. That’s despite the fact that the state would never have to bear more than 90% of the cost.
And who pays for unnecessary ER care, for sore throats or a stitch or two? Guess who. By the way, Florida has the most expensive ER in the country, averaging $3,102 per visit.
If Florida Democrats find an acceptable candidate, they may be able to regain the governorship. America probably doesn’t want to become DeSantis’ Florida.
Florida may not like that either.
Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. She can be emailed to [email protected].
Cal Thomas: DeSantis for president?
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