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Ron DeSantis is one of the most powerful political figures in the United States. With a disruptive personality and an effective agenda, the Florida governor is gaining respect and popularity within the conservative world. He is even considered the GOP’s man for the 2024 presidential election. However, the governor has already made it clear that the rumors about his candidacy are, for the moment, “nonsense“, and that he is focused on “working hard”, since next year there are gubernatorial elections in his state and he has several rivals ahead of him, among them, Nikki Fried, the current Florida agriculture commissioner,
Despite the boisterous criticism from the mainstream media and his political rivals, the success of the DeSantis administration is unquestionable. The pandemic, which was an unresolved problem for many politicians, was successfully dealt with by the governor, not only economically, but also in social and health terms.
If Florida is statistically compared with New York, California or Texas, that is, the other three largest and most populated states in the union, the numbers do not lie: the “Sunshine State” has fewer deaths than those three states and is among the 20 territories in the country with the lowest mortality rate per 100,000 inhabitants. Also, despite the effort to disqualify DeSantis as an “anti-vaccine”, Florida is one of the states that best vaccinated its elderly and most vulnerable population and the DeSantis administration is one of the pioneers in promoting the treatment of monoclonal antibodies, a drug that helps prevent serious cases of coronavirus and deaths from the disease.
Under the DeSantis administration, in addition to its economic policies and pandemic strategy, Florida also established itself as a bastion state for civil liberties. While in New York and California the Democratic authorities imposed draconian health measures, killed their taxpayers’ pockets with high taxes, destroyed jobs and subjected their citizens to constant loss of liberties through the coercive force of the State; DeSantis did the opposite: he bet on economic openness, recovered jobs, attracted companies from all over the country and respected the fundamental rights and liberties of Floridians. Against this backdrop, New Yorkers and Californians packed their bags and went to Florida without hesitation.
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A candidate without direction
Against this backdrop, Democrats have a tough time: how do they compete against a popular governor who leads a good administration?
Nikki Fried, who in theory is DeSantis’ main rival for 2022, is not finding the answer to that question. Her campaign is completely misplaced, adrift. In repeated displays of desperation, the agriculture commissioner has resorted to meaningless labels to smear DeSantis. First she called him a “communist autocrat,” then she asked him not to turn Florida into a “fascist” state.
It seems that the only alternatives left for Nikki Fried to become governor are ad-hominem fallacies and misinformation campaigns. For example, the candidate disseminated on her Twitter account the controversial Miami Herald article titled: “Florida changed its COVID-19 data, creating an ‘artificial decline’ in recent deaths.” There the media accuses Florida of manipulating coronavirus death statistics, the headline of that report is not only inaccurate, but completely false, as read in the response from the Department of Health.
Recently, Fried also said the governor is “generating misinformation” about the effectiveness of vaccines. “It’s extraordinarily dangerous and irresponsible for Governor DeSantis to continue to lie about the vaccine (…) By saying vaccines don’t help anyone but the recipient (not true) and that breakthrough cases among vaccinated aren’t rare (also not true), he’s continuing to impede the health and economic recovery of our state.”
What Nikki Fried is doing here, in tune with the media, is distorting a quote from DeSantis to make him look like a “denier” of the effectiveness of vaccines. All the governor said was that despite being vaccinated “there’s some breakthrough infections” and, as such, it is necessary for some vulnerable people to be treated with the monoclonal antibodies in order to avoid hospitalizations for COVID-19 and possible deaths.
“You know the breakthroughs are not that rare…The vaccinations have been effective against preventing severe illness, but it hasn’t created the type of herd immunity that we hoped,” DeSantis said. “The severity of those cases is less as a result of the protection of the vaccine, of course, but we do have folks [the elderly]…who are becoming symptomatic even with fully vaccinated.”
Honestly, I don’t know in whose head what DeSantis says can be a lie, especially understanding the context of the phrase. Although it shouldn’t surprise anyone either, since Nikki Fried is the same person who compares the political situation in El Salvador to Florida on her Twitter account.
“Be it in El Salvador or Florida, democracy is on life support right now. It’s up to us to decide what kind of future we want our children to inherit. The vote is in your hands.”
It is curious that Nikki Fried accuses and compares DeSantis to dictators when it is her colleagues in the Democratic Party who lock people up with confinements, demand vaccination passports to enter restaurants and seek to prevent the creation of conservative media in Florida using the force of the federal government.
Nikki Fried is not a good candidate. Although she has the support of the Democratic media apparatus, Florida is a different state. There, conservative radio stations have the same weight as the mainstream media and the power of the media is more balanced. The Latino vote, in addition, highly values DeSantis’ work and the governor’s efforts to support Cubans.
Her campaign strategy, while it may reach the liberal anti-DeSantis base, will not convince all sensible Democrats or even independents that she can be a better governor. Nikki’s shipwreck is evident, we will see if she will make it to any port in the Democratic primary or in 2022.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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