Being an unofficial-but-everyone-knows presidential candidate has not been working out so well for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and so next week, he is expected to make it official. Reportedly, there will be a big event at the Four Seasons in Miami. Wouldn't it be great if that ended up being Four Seasons landscaping? That would be comedy gold for months and months.
Although DeSantis is doing very poorly in polling right now (we'll have a closer look at that issue next week), we doubt that is what is behind the timing of his announcement. He's just about to sign the bill that will change Florida law so he doesn't have to resign the governorship in order to run for president. Surely that has been the main holdup, since for weeks he's been doing everything a candidate does, short of file the paperwork with the FEC.
Anyone who wonders what a DeSantis presidency might look like got some useful reminders this week. To start, there are the actions; the things he'll do if he ends up in power. Yesterday, the Governor signed an extremely assertive anti-trans bill, one that forbids gender-affirming treatments for minors, prohibits "adult live performance" in places where children might watch (this is understood to be a ban on drag shows), prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms that don't match their birth certificate, and forbids the use of pronouns in schools that do not match the student's birth certificate. The latter prohibition applies to both students and staff (teachers, administrators, janitors, etc).
Readers of this site know well that anti-trans activists argue that gender-affirming treatment does harm to young people, and that allowing trans people into non-birth-certificate restrooms facilitates rapes and other sexual crimes. These same folks then bend over backwards to turn drag shows into some great evil, one that confuses young people or facilitates grooming or... something. But even if you grant all of these things, why does the government need to get involved in policing pronouns? Is there any argument whatsoever that honoring a request to use "she" or "they" instead of "he," for example, has ANY negative impact? If a teacher doesn't want to honor that request, they can decline without the government's help, just as they can decline to call Timothy "Tim" or to call Jennifer "Jenny." But is there any compelling justification for making it illegal for a teacher to so much as consider that courtesy? Or for students to do so? If there is a good answer to that, we are not clever enough to figure it out. This sort of overreach makes it all-but-impossible for us to take seriously that such legislation is really and truly meant to serve the public good, or to do right by young people.
Of course, actions have consequences, and there have also been some pretty good reminders this week of the consequences of DeSantis' actions. Let's start with the biggie, which broke yesterday. The other shoe has fallen, and Disney has announced that it is canceling plans to build a new, $1 billion facility in Florida. That's a rather sizable chunk of change, not to mention 2,000 jobs, all gone because the Governor threw a temper tantrum. Disney's still going to build the facility of course, but now it will be in... well, some state whose governor doesn't use his power to engage in petty score-settling.
And then there is the harsh new immigration bill that DeSantis signed into law, which goes into effect on July 1. Reader C.T. in Cape Coral, FL, brings to our attention this news item, which addresses the entirely predictable effects the bill is already having. Quite a few mixed families (some documented, some not) are packing up and leaving the state because it's just too risky to stay (remember, anyone who transports or harbors an undocumented immigrant, even if they are a family member, can be sent to prison). And as it turns out—who knew?—these immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are a rather important source of labor in Florida. As a result, construction, food harvesting, cleaning, and other such work is already going un-done because there aren't enough people to do it. And wait until people actually start getting arrested for driving their undocumented sibling to a job site, or a field where the crops are ripe.
Our sneaking suspicion is that quite a few voters will take a look at all of these things and will decide that DeSantis is not their kind of leader. That's just a guess for now, although there was that mayoral election in Jacksonville that sure looks like a repudiation of the Governor. Also, Florida Democrats—who surely have their finger on the pulse of this particular question much more than we do—are feeling pretty good right now, and are thinking their return from the dead will happen much more quickly than expected. Maybe Jesus speed (3 days) as opposed to Voldemort speed (15 years). We'll soon see what happens, polling and otherwise, once DeSantis is an official candidate for president. (Z)