Another day, another hostile New York Times story about the star Republican governor of Florida (and potential 2024 presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis: “Rapidly Flexing Power, DeSantis Turns Florida Into a Lab for the Right,” Miami bureau chief Patricia Mazzei portrayed Florida as a hot-headed state throwing a conservative temper tantrum led by a attention-seeking, Trump-adjacent governor.
Florida feels like a state running a fever, its very identity changing at a frenetic pace.
Once the biggest traditional presidential battleground, it has suddenly turned into a laboratory of possibility for the political right.
Mazzei's characterization of conservative policies were distinctly unsympathetic.
Discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity prohibited in early elementary school. Math textbooks rejected en masse for what the state called “indoctrination.” Schools and employers limited in what they can teach about racism and other aspects of history. Tenured professors in public universities subjected to new reviews. Abortions banned after 15 weeks. The creation of a law enforcement office to investigate election crimes. A congressional map redrawn to give Republicans an even bigger advantage.
And, perhaps most stunning of all, Disney, long an untouchable corporate giant, stripped of the ability to govern itself for the first time in more than half a century, in retaliation for the company’s opposition to the crackdown on L.G.B.T.Q. conversations with young schoolchildren.
Interesting word choice here: “blamed.”
Bob Buckhorn, the former Democratic mayor of Tampa, blamed a combination of factors for Florida’s sudden turn: Mr. DeSantis’s ambition, national culture wars and Mr. Trump, for having “given voice to all of the ugliness and the demons that inhabit Americans.”
....beginning in 2020, a politically attuned Mr. DeSantis seized on discontent with coronavirus pandemic policies, betting that economic prosperity and individual liberties would matter more to voters in the long run than protecting public health. More than 73,000 Floridians have died of Covid-19, yet public opinion polls have shown that Mr. DeSantis and many of his policies remain quite popular.
More than 90,000 Californians have died of COVID-19 despite lockdowns and restrictions, and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom had to face a recall election. So where’s Newsom’s hit piece?
At least Mazzei didn't try to link the pro-vaccine DeSantis to the anti-vaccine fringe again
The question now for Mr. DeSantis -- and virtually everyone else in Florida -- is whether the rightward lurch will stop, either by court intervention, corporate backlash or, come November, electoral rebuke. But given Florida’s trends in recent years, the more likely outcome could be a sustained campaign toward a new, more rigid conservative orthodoxy, one that voters could very well ratify this fall.
Mazzei may have unwittingly revealed media bias against “conservative hellhole” Florida.
Despite all the charged rhetoric and national headlines, Ms. Arnett, the novelist, said her daily life was not much different from before.
“If you put on the TV or you look at the news at what’s going on, it seems like Florida is a conservative hellhole,” she said. “When you’re living in Florida and interacting with people and moving through your day-to-day life, it doesn’t feel that way at all.”