Leer en Español
Leading up to and during the American Civil War, states were classified as either “free” or “slave”. That most horrific, but inevitable and necessary armed conflict, settled the issue of slavery and unified the “house divided” that so eloquently Abraham Lincoln described in his speech in 1858.
Today, we also see fundamental differences in the quantity and quality of freedom enjoyed by citizens of America, which are determined by the state in which they live. The “house divided”, is now witnessed, not necessarily because of geography. It is attributable to the political party in power, but even more so, it is sewed up by ideology. The Made in China virus has laid out the setting which has crystalized this great divide among the United States. Liberty is abundant in some places, yet a rationed commodity in others. Florida is a free state.
Florida reject statism
Under the stewardship of Ronald Dion DeSantis (Ron DeSantis), Florida’s 46th governor, the Sunshine State has faired much better than most big states during the coronavirus pandemic in all measurable categories. This has not been a coincidence. It has been a direct result of specific policies which rejected the “advice” of statist, leftist political scientism, which insisted on a monolithic approach to the problem.
DeSantis, with the support of the Republican-dominated state legislature, was able to put into play a comprehensive plan to deal with the pandemic, yet assuring that the overall well-being of Floridians was addressed, including that most seminal of civic concerns, the people’s freedom.
“Every Floridian has the right to earn a living. Florida is open, and we’ve got your back”, tweeted DeSantis recently. This statement is bold and revolutionary! While the left has had a socialist frenzy castigating society’s willingness to work and be virtuous in places such as New York, New Jersey, Michigan and California, Florida’s chief executive has called the people’s desire to be industrious and economically self-reliant, a “right”.
A way to measure the success of a political system is how people vote with their feet. When 20% of the Cuban and Venezuelan population have left their respect countries for exile, this tells you things are not working well there. What is the common denominator? Socialism and the lack of freedom. There is a parallel in principle here between the exodus of Americans from authoritative blue, left-wing states to freedom-focused places like Florida. The stampede of New Yorkers fleeing permanently to the Sunshine State has much more to do with the social-political climate, than the sub-tropical weather.
A few days ago, during an interview on Fox News “Primetime” with journalist Maria Baritromo, DeSantis made the case, supported by empirical evidence, for the alternate and better course in dealing with a pathogenic pandemic.
The approach implemented in Florida has been almost the same identical pragmatic trajectory espoused by President Donald Trump and has been like that carried out in the Nordic countries of Finland, Norway and Denmark, where they had partial, targeted lockdowns and Sweden, where there was no lockdown at all. It is no coincidence that just as the overall death and infectious rates for the four Nordic countries cited fare much better than their draconian lockdown neighbors like Italy, Germany, Great Britain and France, the Sunshine State has outperformed the lockdown zealots like New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and California (just to name a few).
Key to the overarching success achieved by Florida, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, has been the primacy placed on freedom in the panoramic sense of the social compact. For this, undoubtedly, political leadership deserves credit. During the cited Fox interview, DeSantis responsibly said “lockdowns don’t work”. Embracing a wide strategy to deal with all ills consequential in a pandemic, something blue, authoritarian states refused to do, Florida insisted schools accept students, and that the economy remain open, thus empowering normalcy as an priority pillar.
The results of Florida’s successful route are visible in many ways, as the governor highlighted to Baritromo. Home sales were up 24% in 2020, state revenues exceeded the projected amount by over $330 million, and it has the 26th lowest coronavirus mortality rate per capita in the nation, despite having the second highest senior population. This last fact is attributable directly to DeSantis’ state directed policies in dealing with seniors during the pandemic and contrasts greatly with those ordered by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on this very issue.
DeSantis prohibited hospitals from discharging COVID-19 patients and sending them to nursing homes. Cuomo, the darling of the elite left, did the exact opposite. New York seniors paid dearly for his negligence. The Florida governor has shepherded an accurately based, science-backed focused strategy. Ample evidence proves that the Communist Chinese virus strikes the elderly and frail in disproportionate numbers. Therefore DeSantis, from the outset, protected them and now, with the vaccine rollout, has prioritized them to be priority recipients in the “Seniors First” initiative. Consequently, Florida has already vaccinated over one million seniors statewide.
Freedom, a fundamental factor in a democracy, needs the rule of law as a safeguard and as an enforcer of justice. The Communist riots carried out by Black Lives Matter and Antifa in over 140 cities during the 2020 spring and summer, witnessed a despicable tolerance for lawlessness and, ironically, a simultaneous call by leftist politicians to defund the police .
DeSantis displayed the complete opposite position. Florida has not been hospitable to the widespread vandalism, arson and looting that has plagued blue cities and states. This display of “zero tolerance” towards delinquent conduct, has afforded Florida citizens a level of security to enjoy their freedom. During the next legislative session in March, DeSantis has already announced his interest in signing antiriot legislation into law to make sure that Floridians remain free from these subversive elements.
The conservatism practiced by the Harvard-graduated attorney, Iraq war veteran, former House member and now Florida’s governor, has placed DeSantis in the comfortable position of being in the top list as a 2024 Republican presidential contender. Florida, a free state, could become a successful contagion agent for America. The country certainly would be better off for it. If you have any doubts, visit Florida.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.