Former Yale University baseball player Ron DeSantis
was looking for a clean base hit—maybe even a home
run—in appearing with Elon Musk on a Twitter live
event to formally announce what he’s been teasing for
months— advancing beyond Florida’s governorship to
be elected president of the USA.
But an embarrassing failure of technology and ambition
ruined it. Most of us have suffered the frustration of a
live Zoom meeting in the past few years featuring poor
audio and video glitches. DeSantis and Musk looked
like rookie TV hosts auditioning on a new cable
channel. (As someone with 50 years of television work,
it’s hard to make it look easy.)
Baseball would score his performance a “‘K” for a
While Musk usually looks silly, DeSantis favors looking
sullen. We got both vibes in this widely panned fiasco
in media coverage. Was DeSantis expecting to show
more competence and hipness than Trump? Sorry, but
it was a giant fail.
it was a bad media idea, poorly executed. FOX called
it a “disaster,” slate.com noted it “crashed immediately,”
while politico.com described it as “marred by
horrendous tech failures.”
If Trump is all rage, all retribution, all the time,
DeSantis positions himself as controlled rage with
results. He barks code words like “woke,” stressing that
he has shifted Florida rightward away from the
influences he claims are destroying America.
Maxwell Frost, a Gen-Z progressive Democratic
congressman in Florida told the Guardian newspaper,
“Governor Ron DeSantis even being within striking
distance of the Oval Office should frighten anyone who
values democracy, voting rights, civil rights, freedom
and the pursuit of happiness.
“He’s repeatedly supported cuts to Medicare and social
security, a lot of his focus is on toxic culture wars, book
bans, attacking LGBTQ+ youth, erasing history … his
quote-unquote ‘Florida blueprint’ is a disaster
for families across the state…..Ron DeSantis is not fit
to be president because he has not once proven he
can and will do the right thing for the people he’s
supposed to represent.”
From working for two years as a journalist in Florida, I
understand how multicultural and splintered the
the population is because of geographical and
North Florida (The panhandle) was once all
agriculture with political attitudes closely aligned with
the bordering states of Georgia and Alabama. Less so
Central Florida was citrus farms and small towns. On
the east or west coasts of the only state with two
separate coastlines were cities with metro-sized
populations. Today, it is a congested tourist destination
with Disney World, a pet hate of DeSantis for not
agreeing with him on gender politics.
South Florida was the hospitality business and the
jumping-off point for trade and business with South
America. In 1938 there were less than 2 million people
in the entire state. Seventy-five years later, there are
22,000,000 persons. Here’s what helped create this
migration into a hot, wet, and often inhospitable
environment. By the the1930s, Mosquito eradication efforts there had
eased the Malaria disease problem in swamps and
Year-round warm weather and flat land made it an ideal
training ground for the Army Air Corps, making Florida
a growth region with the start of World War Two.
Home air conditioning systems became affordable,
sparking a housing boom possible in the post-war era.
Jet planes made traveling there more accessible, as
did the Interstate Highway system. People, young and
retired, all headed south in the 1950s and 60s.
Florida does not have a state income tax, meaning
most of its revenue comes from sales and excise taxes.
The rich love it, the middle-class benefits but the
bottom third of the population suffers.
An additional element is an arrival in the 1960s of
Cubans Fleeing Fidel Castro’s Communist Takeover of
the island., They were granted citizenship rights
In recent decades there has been an influx of legal
immigrants from Central and South America.
Native Floridians and those who arrived before 1970
seem to have a different view of the impact and benefit
of what growth brought. This older population is more
conservative and desires less traffic and less spoken
Spanish. DeSantis appeals to newcomers from highly
taxed states in the northeast, now happily ensconced in
gated retirement communities that don’t pay high
The governor’s endless culture wars mask the reality
that his policies ignore the majority of Floridians. In a
way, the Twitter decision signals that DeSantis is
comfortable with the right-wing technocrat money guys.
The subliminal message to older, wealthier
Republicans are without Trump, we will manage fiscal
and tax policy: you are safe with DeSantis.
Florida’s rank for healthcare, school funding, and long-
term elder care is near the bottom of a 50-state list.
Teachers’ salaries are among the lowest in the nation,
and so too, are unemployment benefits. Efforts to
increase a low minimum wage brought active
opposition from DeSantis. Unsurprisingly, the state
ranks worse than comparable northern states in
diabetes, cancer deaths, teen birth rates, and infant
Beneath the flashy distraction of the governor’s endless
and often cruel culture wars is the appalling reality of
policies that fail to serve the vast majority of Florida’s
citizens: the non-rich. DeSantis portrays himself as
Trump-like but with governing skills. Will this sell outside Florida,
where a compliant Republican legislature helped make him look OK?
BY: KENNETH TIVEN