I grew up in Florida. When I grew up here, Jeb Bush was the governor. Then came his more moderate successor, Charlie Crist, followed on by the ultra-Conservative Rick Scott. When Scott was term-limited, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) was uncertain of where to go next.
In the midst of the Trump Revolution, the RPOF stood at a crossroads. Florida’s Republican Party could have gone with the well-connected, Bush-era Republican, Adam Putnam, or it could choose someone newer, younger—someone more in line with the “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) wing of the Republican Party.
Ron DeSantis Fights COVID His Own Way
After all, less than two years after DeSantis’ charged battle with Gillum for Florida’s future, the Sunshine State was darkened by the arrival of the novel coronavirus that emanated from Wuhan, China, on our otherwise pristine shores.
Had Gillum been in charge of the state government, Florida might have looked disturbingly like California or an assortment of other big, Blue States that killed their economies—and deprived their citizens of their God-given liberty—to stop the ambitious virus from Wuhan.
Initially, he followed Trump’s lead. Thankfully, the Florida governor was unimpressed by the demands the federal government was making of him. He resisted. Ron DeSantis did the one thing no other elected official was willing to do early in the pandemic: he led—and DeSantis led in a way that bucked the conventional wisdom (something that President Trump used to do exceedingly well).
The optics got so bad for Trump during COVID, that he called Ron DeSantis and accused the Florida governor of making him look bad; that DeSantis was being disloyal to the president who had gotten him elected. Yet, DeSantis was doing what no other leader in America was doing at the time: he was standing up for the rights of his citizens. Yes, we were all rightly scared of the novel coronavirus which likely came from a Chinese laboratory. But the data has proven that states in lockdown did either as bad—or worse—than those states, such as Florida, that lifted their lockdown early in the pandemic.
And because the lockdowns were lifted, Florida’s economy recovered faster. DeSantis’ leadership has proven just how important that decisive leadership truly is. A weaker man running Florida would have given in to the president—at the time the leader of his own party who had helped get DeSantis elected—but Ron DeSantis understood his mission: to keep Florida strong.
Florida very easily could have collapsed the way that New York, Illinois, and California did. It thrived and grew where those states’ economies contracted at historic rates, hurting the people living in those states (who were already panicked and scared about the biological crisis). DeSantis prevented that. Because of his actions, not only did the Florida economy expand but our population base exploded as well.
Florida Succeeded Where California Failed
At a time when the major Blue States saw massive contractions in their populations, DeSantis’ policies attracted that human capital (and actual capital, as evidenced by the exodus of not just conservative people and industries from Blue States but even elements of Silicon Valley ended up in Miami).
A neighbor of mine who had just moved to our community from Los Angeles a year ago (and whose family emigrated to California from Eastern Europe years ago), quipped to me that DeSantis’ Florida had become to Blue State America what West Berlin had become to the oppressed people of the Soviet Bloc: a glimmering example of freedom and hope for a more prosperous tomorrow.
Florida has never been as great of a place to live as right now. Yes, we’ve got killer humidity. And having barely survived Hurricane Ian last Fall, we’ve got some monster storms here. Yet, I don’t have to shovel snow anymore (as I did when I previously lived and worked in Washington, D.C.). My neighbors are all happy. Most of us feel like we’re doing well financially (even though things for most people everywhere are tough—maybe it’s the constant sunshine).
Our kids are thriving, too. We’ve also got real community down here. With more people moving down here by the droves, for those of us who own houses, the values keep surging upward at a time when the rest of the country—notably the Blue States—are crashing downward.
It’s been a great time to be a Floridian under Ron DeSantis. I can’t help but to imagine what he could do for the United States as president (especially as his term as our governor is set to end by 2024). If only he would just run with as much ferocity and pizzaz as Donald Trump appears to be. DeSantis could be one of the greatest presidents of all time but if he doesn’t take the stage—and throw some punches along the way—he’ll simply be remembered as the forty-sixth governor of Florida as opposed to the forty-seventh president of the United States.
Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.