In recent years, under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida has been making headlines for its controversial policies and laws reshaping the socio-political landscape. This essay analyzes various elements of DeSantis's governance, emphasizing his feud with Disney, implementation of anti-woke laws, polarizing steps against immigrants, introduction of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, endorsement of a pro-Christian education syllabus, and the worrying tendency of dismissing Democratic lawmakers and committee members. Florida is currently undergoing a transformation that contradicts the values of a progressive and inclusive United States, as seen through the examination of these policies and actions.
Fight with Disney: Undermining Free Speech
One incident that stood out in Governor DeSantis’s tenure was his highly publicized confrontation with Disney over their COVID-19 safety protocols. Disney, along with many other companies worldwide, took measures to guarantee the safety of their employees and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the incident in question. Measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and limiting the number of visitors helped minimize the risk of virus transmission within their premises. Health experts provided guidelines for developing safety protocols to balance business continuity with the public health imperative. Protocols such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and visitor reduction are in place.
Governor DeSantis, however, took issue with these measures. He publicly criticized Disney’s decision, arguing that it infringed on individuals’ freedoms. The dispute between a governor and one of the state's top employers was more than just an incident. It was a challenge to the core principles of our society, like free speech and the autonomy of private businesses.
Freedom of speech is an essential right that enables people to express their thoughts without apprehension of retaliation, censorship, or legal punishment. Businesses can freely communicate with their customers and employees and decide based on what they believe is best for them. Criticizing Disney's safety protocols, DeSantis went against this principle. He didn't acknowledge the company's ability to create regulations and convey them to its workers and guests.
The confrontation undermined private businesses' autonomy. Businesses can decide regarding their operations as long as they do not violate the law or the rights of others. A free market economy requires autonomy to function properly, allowing businesses to adjust to changing circumstances and cater to customer needs.
DeSantis overlooked these principles by going against Disney's safety protocols. He leveraged his authority to sway the decisions of a private company, impeding its independence and violating its right to free expression. The incident was a simple reminder of the significance of maintaining these principles, even when confronting a worldwide pandemic.
The conflict between Governor DeSantis and Disney went beyond a disagreement on COVID-19 safety measures. It challenged the principles of free speech and private business autonomy. Through this challenge, Disney showcased its commitment to these principles and their significance. Disney's response to this challenge showed the importance of defending these principles, even in tough times.
Law against Woke Culture: Control of Critical Discourse.
Governor DeSantis' signing of HB 233, which bans the teaching of critical race theory in Florida's public schools, led to significant controversy. In June 2021, Governor DeSantis signed HB 233 into law, which prohibits teaching certain concepts related to race and history in Florida’s public schools and has sparked significant controversy. Does the Governor continuously opine that teaching any history that unveils the cruelty of slavery, Jim Crow, public lynching, and segregation somehow indoctrinate children? But, if these factual atrocities occurred, then how can teaching about them indoctrinate children? and indoctrinate them into what - sympathetic human beings poised to change the sins of the past? According to the law, schools cannot use any curriculum or instructional materials that portray American history differently than the creation of a new nation based on the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.
Some critics, like myself, argue that this law hinders the development of critical thinking skills by inhibiting open discussion on systemic inequality and racism. Limiting the potential for societal progress and perpetuating a distorted version of history is what DeSantis they accused of doing by suppressing essential discourse.
According to the ACLU of Florida, the law is a "political stunt" and a "racist overreaction" to a non-existent issue.” This legislation could cause teachers and students to feel afraid of discussing important topics related to race and inequality. So, the fear of teaching and open discussion is now an actual idea in America? What would happen if this approach was flipped and teaching about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Civil War was prohibited? This is about raw, unadulterated power preservation. According to a survey by the Education Week Research Center, 81% of teachers think that students should learn about the history of racism in the U.S. However, some teachers now feel uncertain or scared about teaching these subjects in the classroom.
Anti-woke laws implemented by Governor DeSantis, including the ban on critical race theory in schools, have received considerable criticism. According to critics, the legislation limits conversations about systemic inequality and racism, blocks the growth of critical thinking skills among students, and continues to promote a misleading version of history and perception of Florida residents such as immigrants.
Fight Against Immigrants:
The relocation of undocumented immigrants out of Florida using taxpayer funds, as decided by Governor DeSantis, has stirred up significant controversy. Critical questions arise regarding public resource usage, the treatment of marginalized communities, and the approach to immigration reform.
How to use taxpayer funds is at the heart of this issue. Public funds should benefit all residents, contributing to public goods such as infrastructure, education, healthcare, and social services. Investing in solutions that could benefit the community is more appropriate than using these funds to displace individuals.
This policy does little to address the fundamental challenges associated with immigration. The problem is not solved by this approach, which fails to invest in comprehensive immigration reform. It fails to provide a long-term solution or address the underlying factors of immigration, like economic struggles and violence in immigrants' homelands.
Marginalized communities are also negatively affected by this policy. Undocumented immigrants are often among the most vulnerable members of society. Accessing services and opportunities is challenging for them, and they always live in fear of deportation. The policy worsens social division and creates fear and uncertainty by forcing these individuals to move, further marginalizing their communities.
The policy also prioritizes optics over practical solutions. The policy may give the impression of being strict on immigration, but it does not address the challenges of immigration in a humane and sustainable way. It continues a narrative that demonizes immigrants and shifts the focus from the requirement of a complete immigration reform.
To conclude, Governor DeSantis' decision to use public funds to transport undocumented immigrants out of Florida is a misuse of resources and does not address the actual challenges related to immigration. It exacerbates the marginalization of needy communities and favors appearances over practical solutions. Focusing on comprehensive immigration reform, creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and addressing the root causes of immigration is a more constructive approach.
Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws: Discrimination in the Sunshine State
Upholding equality and inclusivity is essential for every society, and any discrimination goes against these principles. However, the Florida administration has recently acted against them. Unfortunately, recent actions taken by the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have raised concerns about discriminatory policies targeting the LGBTQ+ community in the state, earning it the moniker of the “Sunshine State.”
One law that has drawn significant criticism is the Parental Rights in Education Act (HB 1557). While proponents argue that this law protects parental rights, critics say it opens the door to discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. The law allows parents to review all instructional materials used in schools, including those related to sexual orientation and gender identity. This provision raises concerns that parents may use it to censor or exclude LGBTQ+ content, perpetuating a harmful environment for LGBTQ+ youth and limiting their access to inclusive education.
Florida has witnessed the introduction and passage of several bills that restrict the rights of transgender individuals. For example, Senate Bill 1028 bans transgender girls and women from participating in women’s and girls’ sports teams in schools, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and excluding transgender athletes from participating in activities that are important for their personal growth and well-being. Similarly, House Bill 1475 prohibits transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming medical care despite medical professionals advocating for the importance of affirming and supportive care for transgender individuals. These policies not only undermine the rights of transgender individuals, but also contribute to a culture of discrimination and exclusion.
Another concerning area is adoption rights for same-sex couples in Florida. While we have made progress in recent years to ensure equal adoption opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, some policies enacted under the current administration have sought to limit these rights. For instance, Senate Bill 1226 allows private adoption agencies to refuse services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. This creates a situation where LGBTQ+ teams may face discriminatory hurdles when seeking to adopt, denying them the same opportunities as their heterosexual counterparts.
It is essential to acknowledge that these policies are discriminatory and significantly impact the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. Studies have consistently shown that discrimination and exclusion contribute to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among the LGBTQ+ community. By enacting laws perpetuating discrimination, the DeSantis administration is exacerbating the challenges an already vulnerable population faces.
The fight for equality and inclusivity requires ongoing advocacy and education. Many individuals and organizations within Florida are working tirelessly to challenge these discriminatory policies and support the rights of the LGBTQ+ community by highlighting the negative consequences of these laws and advocating for change to create a more inclusive and accepting environment in the Sunshine State.
Slavery Beneficial in Education Curriculum: Rewriting History
Introducing a pro-Christian education curriculum in Florida schools has sparked concerns about manipulating historical narratives and the potential whitewashing of uncomfortable truths. Under Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration, there have been efforts to downplay the relevance of slavery and its lasting impact on American society. This approach to education raises questions about the administration’s intentions and commitment to fostering a well-informed citizenry.
Promoting a pro-Christian curriculum poses a risk of presenting a narrow-minded perspective that overlooks the diversity of religious beliefs and values in our society. Education should strive to provide a comprehensive understanding of history that encompasses multiple perspectives and encourages critical thinking. By focusing on a particular religious viewpoint, there is a danger of excluding or marginalizing students who do not adhere to that specific belief system.
One of the major concerns is the potential whitewashing of history. Slavery is an integral part of American history and has had a profound and lasting impact on the nation's development. By downplaying its importance, the administration distorts historical facts and denies students a complete understanding of slavery's complexities and consequences. This not only undermines the pursuit of historical truth, but also hinders the development of empathy and an appreciation for the struggles and contributions of marginalized communities.
An education system that cannot address the uncomfortable truths of history is detrimental to the formation of critical thinkers and well-rounded citizens. Through an honest examination of the past, including its darkest chapters, we can learn from our mistakes and work towards a more just and inclusive future. By rewriting history and presenting a skewed version of events, the DeSantis administration is hindering the development of an informed citizenry capable of grappling with the complexities of our shared history.
We can foster a more informed and empathetic society by engaging in open and honest discussions about history, including the uncomfortable aspects. The concerns raised about the pro-Christian education curriculum in Florida schools highlight the need for vigilance and advocacy to ensure that education remains a tool for enlightenment, not a means to manipulate historical narratives.
Anti-Democrats: Undermining Democratic Processes
Governor DeSantis’s pattern of dismissing lawmakers and committee members affiliated with the Democratic party has sparked concerns about his commitment to democratic principles. This trend of silencing dissenting voices raises questions about his respect for pluralism and the democratic processes crucial for a thriving democracy.
In a healthy democracy, it is essential to have a diversity of opinions and perspectives represented in decision-making processes. By firing lawmakers and committee members solely based on their political affiliation, Governor DeSantis shows a disregard for the principles of inclusivity and open dialogue. Silencing dissenting voices inhibits the ability to engage in robust debates and compromises necessary for effective governance.
This trend reflects a concerning erosion of democratic norms and values. The democratic system relies on all citizens' fair representation, regardless of their political beliefs. When those in power dismiss or marginalize individuals based on their party affiliation, it undermines the principles of fairness, equality, and respect for differing viewpoints.
Governor DeSantis’s actions also raise concerns about the overall health of the democratic process in Florida. By removing lawmakers and committee members from their positions without due cause it creates an environment of fear and intimidation. This can have a chilling effect on individuals who may be hesitant to express their opinions or challenge the status quo, ultimately hindering the democratic process.
To have a thriving democracy, we must create an environment where we hear and respect diverse perspectives. The presence of dissenting voices is crucial in keeping those in power responsible and ensuring we decide for the collective good of all citizens. Governor DeSantis’s trend of firing lawmakers and committee members affiliated with the Democratic party undermines these principles and raises concerns about his commitment to democratic values.
It is important for citizens to remain vigilant and advocate for protecting democratic principles. By actively engaging in the democratic process, voicing concerns, and demanding transparency and accountability from elected officials, we can work towards a more inclusive and robust democracy.
Ron DeSantis’s governance in Florida presents a troubling picture of a state heading toward dystopia. The clash with Disney, anti-woke legislation, controversial immigration policies, discriminatory laws, rewriting of history, and undermining democratic processes show a departure from the values of a progressive and inclusive America. For citizens, critiquing the consequences of these policies and taking part in open dialogue is crucial to prevent America from following the divisive path of Florida. We must prioritize the preservation of democratic principles, free speech, equality, and a comprehensive education system that accurately reflects our history to safeguard the future of our nation. Remember to vote in 2024 for a free democracy over a dictatorship.