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Ron DeSantis

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Meet the man even his fellow Floridians call "DeathSantis."
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At one school, "the kids began crying and writing letters to the principal, saying, 'Please don't take my books, please don't do this.'"
—Florida children reacting to the gutting of school and classroom libraries in response to DeSantis' "Don't Say Gay" law[1]

Ronald Dion "Meatball" DeSantis (1978–) is an American far-right homophobe and rising fascist star currently serving as the Governor of Florida, having beaten progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum after dogwhistling about his black opponent being a monkey.[2] For a major public figure who regularly speaks to large crowds, his voice is hilariously high-pitched and nasally to the point it can be difficult to even listen past it.[3]

First elected to public office in just his 30s, DeSantis' meteoric rise in politics makes him a leading Republican in the post-Trump era, with many fearing he could seriously become President of the United States one day. He is even considered to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2024 (assuming that a 2020 rematch doesn’t happen).

Among his weaknesses regarding a presidential run are allegedly subpar social skills. He has a tendency to ravenously devour food "like a starving animal who has never eaten before" during meetings and get it everywhere. In one incident, he dug into some chocolate pudding with three of his fingers.[4][5]

Early career[edit]


After obtaining a law degree from Harvard University in 2005, DeSantis enlisted in the Navy as JAGWikipedia officer (legal advisors to the command). He was deployed to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. During his time there, he advised his command to force-feed the inmates who were on a hunger strike ("Hey, you actually can force-feed."); force feeding is regarded as torture by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Despite this, the Pentagon also approved force-feeding of the inmates.[6]

According to former-inmate Mansoor Adayfi, who wrote about his experience at Guantanamo, "a male nurse forced that huge tube into my nose. No numbing spray. No lubricant. Raw rubber and metal sliced the inside of my nose and throat. Pain shot through my sinuses and I thought my head would explode."[7] Adayfi later recognized DeSantis as he rose to political power and said that DeSantis was one of several people who were smiling at him while he was being tortured.[6]

During an interview with Fox News in 2014, DeSantis falsely claimed that the high cost of maintaining the prisoners at Guantanamo was because, "They get three special halal meals a day. They get round-the-clock medical care, they get the Qurans when they want it. So they’re treated far better than they would be treated almost anywhere else. And that’s costly."[6] These are in fact things that Muslim prisoners at US SuperMax prisons are entitled to due to the First Amendment (Freedom of religion),[6] thus indicating DeSantis' Islamophobia.


DeSantis was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a block of far-right conservatives, libertarians, nationalists, xenophobes, and conspiracy theorists, most of whom supported Donald Trump. While DeSantis chose to run for Senate in 2015, he withdrew from the race after Marco Rubio chose to keep his Senate seat once he lost the Republican primary for president in 2016. DeSantis thought better than to face an incumbent and instead ran for reelection to the House.

In 2015, John Boehner, a well-known obstructionist who helped Mitch McConnell ensure that Barack Obama got none of his agenda through, found himself clashing with DeSantis' Freedom Caucus, who saw Boehner as somehow too liberal. Eventually, the Freedom Caucus, spearheaded by DeSantis and future White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (under Trump), and backed by Ted Cruz, ousted Boehner in favor of Paul Ryan, who himself became a Trump toady shortly after the Orange Man won the primary.

By 2018, DeSantis had greater ambitions. Rick Scott was term limited as governor, leaving the seat wide open. DeSantis, widely seen as the hardliner, won the primary and faced off against Andrew Gillum, an African American progressive Democrat who supported Medicare For All. DeSantis would win by less than 1 percent of the vote.


During his original campaign for governor, and to a lesser degree at other times, DeSantis has done many racist things, most notably telling his supporters not to "monkey this up" (referring to the election), by letting his opponent win.[8] When even Fox News pointed out the bigoted nature of his statement, DeSantis doubled down, whining about "socialism".[9] He also has engaged in other racist activities, such as moderating a racist Tea Party-affiliated Facebook group.[10] Unsurprisingly, racially-motivated voter suppression played a significant role in DeSantis' election.[11][12]

Gerrymandering to eliminate black districts[edit]

In March 2022, DeSantis threatened to veto any redistricting bill that did not eliminate half of all black-held seats in Florida.[13] Even though Florida has officially banned gerrymandering due to a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2010, the legislature still draws their own seats, so there still is no independent redistricting in the state. This has caused several flareups between lawmakers and the Florida Supreme Court, who struck down an obviously-gerrymandered map in 2015 before DeSantis stacked the court with his cronies.[14] By mid-March 2022, the Florida Republican Party passed maps for the state house and state senate seats, which do not need the governor's signature, but their map for Congressional seats must be signed by the governor, and DeSantis instead made his own proposal which gave Republicans 20 seats and Democrats only 8 seats. Even the far more right-wing Florida House of Representatives think that's ridiculous and illegal, but DeSantis refuses to budge, hoping to turn the issue over to the Florida Supreme Court, which is now stacked with his justices. This is the only time Florida Republicans have ever substantially opposed DeSantis, and he is quite annoyed.[15]

In April 2022, the Florida legislature gave up. They granted DeSantis the power to make his own redistricting map, giving the governor the power to gerrymander Democrats and black-majority seats out of existence. His map has 20 Republican seats and only 8 Democrat seats, a partisan power-grab that was only possible because he eliminated black-majority districts. He claims black-majority districts are themselves gerrymandered districts, yet says nothing about the white-majority districts that he himself drew. This means he thinks protections for minority voters are unlawful, implying that he thinks the white power structure in a former Confederate slave-state should never be challenged whatsoever. This sets a huge precedent where state legislatures, even those held by the same party as the governor, can simply be bullied into subservience by the governor. His sky-high popularity among Republican voters matches that of Trump, which is why Florida Republicans are unwilling to challenge him any longer on the issue of gerrymandering. Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson wants to run for Agriculture Commissioner, and Republican insiders admitted to reporters that Simpson doesn't want to anger DeSantis because Simpson thinks he needs the governor's endorsement to win. While there are court challenges awaiting, DeSantis' move does three things: it shores up more Republican seats for Congress, it obviously gives him more personal power, and it allows him to possibly water down or ultimately revoke a 2010 amendment to the Florida constitution, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that sets guardrails on the redistricting process and constitutionally bans gerrymandering on the basis of race. DeSantis wants the 6-1 right-wing supermajority on the Florida Supreme Court to officially strike down all guardrails against gerrymandering in Florida.[16][17][18][19] However, on May 11, the map was struck down in court by a right-wing judge he appointed.[20]


2018 Florida voters were 0.4% away from sparing themselves this madness.[21]
[DeSantis] is a terrible governor who is failing his leadership course with flying colors. Driven only by politics and naked ambition, he pursues reckless policies that divide Floridians and may even put them in danger.
—Ruben Navarrette Jr. in an article for The Daily Beast.[22]

Despite 2018 being a Democratic wave election, with the House going blue for the first time since 2008, Florida did not follow suit. It elected Rick Scott as Senator over Bill Nelson and chose DeSantis as governor over Gillum. This would prove to be one of the most damaging and consequential elections for Florida since 2000 because of what would happen a year later.


In one of the few things on which he agreed with Gillum, DeSantis, who does not take money from Big Sugar monopolies, called himself a "Teddy Roosevelt conservationist," saying he supports banning hydraulic fracturing, along with making inspections of septic tanks mandatory and stricter.[23]

But he's still a Republican, so he signed a bill banning local governments in Florida from requiring gas stations to add electric car charging stations.[24] He later signed a bill that banned local governments and cities from restricting dirty energy, essentially mandating that cities keep fossil fuels despite health and environmental hazards.[25][26]

In his crusade against so-called "woke corporations," DeSantis announced he wants to prohibit state investments that use “environmental, social and governance” ratings, which can include taking into account impacts of climate change. ESG guidelines include companies’ climate-change vulnerabilities, carbon emissions, product safety, supply-chain labor standards, privacy and data security, and executive compensation.[27]

Stacking the Florida Supreme Court[edit]

Due to Florida (surprisingly sensibly) prohibiting justices from serving past age 75 (originally 70, before DeSantis took power), all of the justices appointed by Lawton Chiles, the last Democratic governor,[note 1] were essentially term-limited. DeSantis appointed Barbara Lagoa, Robert J. Luck, and Carlos G. Muñiz to the Florida Supreme Court, shifting the court's majority from liberal to conservative. Luck and Lagoa were appointed by Trump to the Court of Appeals, allowing DeSantis to then appoint Jamie Grosshans and John D. Curiel as their replacements. That is five different justices for DeSantis, in contrast to his predecessor Rick Scott's one.


DeSantis rides around with the Florida National Guard in 2019.
See the main article on this topic: Authoritarianism

Starting in 2020, DeSantis became increasingly autocratic and dangerously authoritarian, using his power as governor to crush as many people as possible to shore up support from his base and weaken the opposition as much as possible. He is one of many, many, many Republican governors who followed Donald Trump's authoritarianism with their own and is by far the most successful, more than Trump even.

Punishing people for having different political beliefs[edit]

In July 2022, he signed a law requiring students and faculty be asked their political beliefs. DeSantis suggested budget cuts could be "imminent" if universities and colleges are found to be “indoctrinating” students with political beliefs he disagrees with.[28] The political survey has been derided for its lack of transparency, particularly its lack of details on its privacy protections; based on the bill's language, survey responses will not be anonymous, sparking worries among many professors and other university staff that they may be targeted, held back in their careers, or even fired for their beliefs.[29]

Criminalizing protesters[edit]

On April 2021, DeSantis signed a law that "increases penalties for protesters who block roadways or deface public monuments"; creates a new crime, "mob intimidation"; and requires that anyone arrested at a protest be "denied bail until their first court appearance, likely making for overnight jail stays." He bragged about the law, calling it the "strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement law in the country."[30]

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, people began protesting outside the homes of Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito. DeSantis doesn't like that. So he signed a law that banned protests outside private homes, a transparent way to protect the powerful and prevent people from protesting his own house.[31]

Allowing protesters to be murdered[edit]

In November 2020, DeSantis proposed a bill that would allow gun-owning residents to use deadly force on individuals they believe are looting; basically state-sponsored murder of protesters and rioters for alleged property crime. It would also make blocking traffic during a protest a third-degree felony and impose criminal penalties for partaking in "violent or disorderly assemblies."[32] Worse, he has decriminalized running over protesters, reasoning that it is like fleeing a mob.

Anti-woke "education"[edit]

DeSantis delivers his 2019 State of the State address.
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen," and the powers in charge of Florida's public university system have declared the State has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of "freedom." To confront certain viewpoints that offend the powers that be, the State of Florida passed the so-called "Stop W.O.K.E." Act in 2022—redubbed (in line with the State's doublespeak) the "Individual Freedom Act." The law officially bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints. Defendants argue that, under this Act, professors enjoy "academic freedom" so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves. This is positively dystopian. It should go without saying that "[i]f liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
—Chief Judge Mark E. WalkerWikipedia, November 18 2022, in an injunction temporarily blocking a portion of DeSantis's "anti-woke" legislation[33][34]

As part of his ongoing scheme to indoctrinate the next generation with reactionary bullshit, DeSantis signed laws to restrict how schools teach topics linked to race and sexual orientation. The bill allows parents to sue teachers and "challenge instructional materials" if they were offended at having to treat trans people with basic human decency. Math textbooks have been "culled for traces of critical race theory," which makes as much sense as you think it does (hint: it doesn't). Schools for the first time will have to observe "Victims of Communism Day," during which high schoolers will be taught anti-communism lessons. Teachers and librarians are worried a parent will "complain if a student with two moms shares stories from home during class time." His administration told school districts to "ignore new guidance from the federal government intended to protect transgender students from discrimination." CNN reports that this is DeSantis jumping on an anti-teacher bandwagon kickstarted by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, but as with everything else about DeSantis, he's even more extreme about it, namely by endorsing candidates who have vowed to support his education policy. A huge component of his strategy is to tie himself to Moms for Liberty, a far-right group that has mobilized conservative women around the country to "fight school boards over cultural touchstones," including curriculum they believe is "pushing a liberal agenda" or textbooks they say are "inappropriate for kids," with Orange County (home of Orlando) considering "limiting LGBTQ ally symbols like rainbow lanyards and "Safe Space" stickers."[35]

Instructors who are simply teaching facts about American history, and its many unpleasant actions, are being accused of Marxism. The Florida legislature is considering bills that "aim to prevent students from feeling discomfort, guilt or anguish about race," basically weaponizing white guilt to stop any discussions about race. Perhaps the worrying thing is this isn't a bunch of well-connected plutocrats trying to set up private schools that teach Ayn Rand, but a bunch of normal parents who think their kids are being taught lies and falsehoods about how awful their country really is, and they're making inroads throughout the state (and country) while opportunists like DeSantis reap the benefits. Thankfully, educators and activists pushed and pushed harshly enough to force Florida schools to teach historical events such as the Rosewood and Ocoee massacres written into the standards and onto state exams, and even the State Board of Education rule banning critical race theory "reiterates state law requiring instruction about slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the civil rights movement."[36]

Blocking local city/county government rule and limiting First Amendment rights for protesters and activists[edit]

DeSantis pushed for a bill designed to protect Confederate monuments; permit the state to overrule local governments' decisions in reducing funding for police; waive sovereign immunity for municipalities, thereby allowing local authorities to be sued for "inadequate law enforcement"; and block people injured while participating in protests from receiving damages. This would severely hamper black protesters from exercising their First Amendment rights, critics say.[37]

Limiting ballot initiatives and amendment referendums[edit]

In Florida, despite often electing Republicans, voters typically vote in favor of progressive ballot initiatives, like restoring voting rights to non-violent felons. DeSantis, unhappy with popular democracy, signed a bill that would make it harder to launch successful ballot initiatives. This happened right as Floridians were trying to put medical marijuana legalization, increases to the minimum wage, and expansion of Medicaid on the ballot.[38][39]

Circumventing felons' voting rights[edit]

When Floridians restored voting rights to non-violent felons, DeSantis signed a law that required felons to pay court fees and fines, which was not on the ballot initiative at all. This was done specifically to stop as many felons from voting as possible, as many do not have the money to pay for those fees.[40][41] This "pay-to-vote" system was partially blocked by a district judge, who imposed a permanent injunction pending further judicial review.[42] DeSantis, in a great moment of doublespeak, said that allowing more people the right to vote would "corrupt" elections in Florida.[43] But the Eleventh Circuit reversed and vacated the injunction, with the circuit's chief judge using a law and order argument in favor of DeSantis. The Eleventh Circuit ruled 6-4 in favor of DeSantis, and two of the six judges were Luck and Lagoa, who got their start as Florida Justices appointed by DeSantis, because of course.[44] If you took away those two, the circuit likely would have ruled against him.

Attacking women's abortion rights[edit]

DeSantis signed bills requiring parental consent for a minor to get an abortion and another that mandates governments and some businesses use E-Verify to check the immigration status of their workers. This puts more control in parents' hands over their children and allows for the government and businesses to learn if workers are undocumented immigrants, which would potentially put their lives in danger of ICE. This is one example of how vital the state Supreme Court is to people's lives: they originally struck down a similar abortion consent bill in 1989 when they had a centrist-to-liberal majority at the time.[45]

On April 2022, DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban without exemptions for rape, incest or human trafficking, the most restrictive in Florida's history. The only exceptions allowed are when a pregnancy is "serious risk" to the mother or a "fatal fetal abnormality" is detected if two physicians confirm the diagnosis in writing.[46][47][48]

Limiting democracy, allowing voter purges, and deputizing voter intimidation[edit]

In 2022, DeSantis voiced support for a bill that limited ballot harvesting, banned rank-choice voting, and created a state law enforcement office to "ensure election integrity." This new Office of Election Crimes and Security would have the goal of "investigating allegations of election law violations" or election "irregularities" in Florida.[49] DeSantis wants even more restrictions on voting to ensure that absolutely nobody beats him when he runs for reelection in 2022.[50] His Election Police Force aren’t sworn officers of the law, but they're still endowed with authority to do voter intimidation of anybody who may vote against the governor, critics warn.[51]

On April 2022, DeSantis signed a bill that officially creates an Election Crimes and Security Office, which means his election police force is now activated effective immediately months before the 2022 midterm elections. The bill also bans Ranked choice voting statewide, including in cities and counties. It stiffens penalties for ballot harvesting, which means pro-voting rights organizations can collect people's filled-out ballots and mail them in; one can now go to jail for get-out-the-vote efforts. It also requires election supervisors to purge any voters who they deem to be inactive from the rolls.[52]

Because DeSantis refused to identify exactly what "election irregularities" are, beyond the obvious "you're not white" overtones, many experts fear Florida's new election police will end up deterring voters, election administration officials, and third-party organizations that help voters navigate elections.[53]

His brazen efforts to intimidate and harass voters has inspired Republicans do try it on a national scale. It was revealed through leaked recordings that the Republican Party plans to place party operatives and lawyers as poll workers and build a "hotline" to "friendly district attorneys" who would immediately prosecute against law-abiding citizens who are accused of voter fraud. This is a "precinct strategy" meant to intimidate voters in swing states such as Michigan and Florida.[54]

Arresting whistleblowers[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Whistleblower

Rebekah Jones, a former state data scientist, revealed that DeSantis was covering up COVID deaths in the state. DeSantis fired Jones after she refused to manipulate data to make DeSantis look good, allowing her to launch a COVID database of her own.[55] DeSantis ordered law enforcement to raid her home, take her hardware, and draw their weapons on her, which was caught on camera.[56]

Firing his critics[edit]

DeSantis tries to do an action pose at the 2021 Turning Point USA conference.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, a twice-elected Democrat in a county that voted for Gillum in 2018, pledged not to criminalize women for seeking abortions or those seeking reproductive health,[57] which is entirely legal within his authority as prosecutor. But as he was waiting for a grand jury to make their decision on two rape and murder cases, Warren received an email from the governor saying DeSantis had suspended him and commandeered his car. DeSantis was so angry at someone opposing him that he defied the will of the voters, ignored all precedent, and ousted a democratically-elected prosecutor for doing his job within the confines of the law. DeSantis accused Warren of being a “woke” prosecutor more interested in social justice than in enforcing the law, which is laughable on its face. DeSantis called progressive prosecutors a "pathogen" spreading across the country, because they have the temerity to reduce incarceration rates and decrease the profits of the private prison industry in favor of humanitarian solutions to crime. Warren had also declined to press charges against 67 people who had been arrested for unlawful assembly — angering local law enforcement officials who always saw the pro-reform attorney as a threat to their power. Warren had also criticized DeSantis for the anti-riot law that penalized 2020 era protesters and spoke out against DeSantis ordering the state government to deny Medicaid coverage for transgender-related surgeries and medication.[58][59][60][61]

Punishing sports teams for opposing gun violence[edit]

DeSantis vetoed state money for the Tampa Bay Rays' new training facility after the team tweeted about gun violence. He claimed taxpayer money shouldn't be used to fund private sports stadiums, but Republican insiders said DeSantis had not made up his mind about the money until they made that tweet opposing gun violence. To repeat, saying you don't want gun violence in your country means the governor will strip you of your money.[62][63]

Criminalizing and terrorizing the LGBT community[edit]

In 2021, DeSantis signed a bill banning transgender women and girls from sports, using tired and longstanding transphobic rationalizations for his bigotry.[64][65]

He ordered the state government to deny Medicaid-related transgender surgeries and medications. That means Floridians seeking gender-affirming care will not only be denied those services, but will also effectively de-transition lower-income trans Floridians, whose mental health will almost certainly decline and critics warn may even lead to a rise in suicides for trans Floridians. The Florida Surgeon General, appointed by DeSantis, also issued a memo speaking out against social transition — a non-medical process in "which a person changes their clothing, name or pronouns to better align with their gender identity."[66]

Perhaps most infamously, DeSantis voiced support for the "Don't Say Gay" Bill, which would ban curricula concerning LGBTQ issues in Florida classrooms below the 4th grade.[67] It would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity, allow parents to sue schools or teachers that engage in these topics, and erase essentially all LGBT issues from the minds of children and teenagers, which critics say would lead to more suicides among LGBT people.[68][69] Perhaps most concerningly, the bill requires schools to out LGBTQ students to their parents. Florida students staged walkouts in protest of the bill.[70][71] The relevant amendment was later withdrawn due to public backlash.[72]

In late April 2022, DeSantis ordered the Florida Health Department to issue "guidelines" telling doctors to medically de-transition all transgender youth and ban them from social transition treatment, including “name, pronoun, and clothing changes.” The Florida Health Department also released a memo proclaiming that “social gender transition” should NOT be an option for youth, including “name, pronoun, and clothing changes.”[73][74][75][76]

In June 2022, DeSantis told the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to ban transition-related care for transgender minors right at the start of Pride Month. This has been derided as cruelty for its own sake. To justify his decision, DeSantis alleged that these treatments are "under researched and ineffective," which is a lie.[77] The Agency had been stacked with anti-LGBT Catholic Medical Association members however, and was more than happy to agree with him.[78] In January 2023, DeSantis requested information on transgender university students, including "the number and ages of their students who sought gender dysphoria treatment". A deadline for the information was set for February 10.[79][80]

Dismantling all local autonomy[edit]

Using his spat with Disney over LGBT rights, DeSantis issued a proclamation expanding Florida lawmakers' special session and basically telling them to abolish all independent special districts created before November 1968, including the Disney-owned Reedy Creek, Nascar's independent district in North Florida, and every Native American independent district. That is 133 independent special districts that are about to lose their autonomy completely.[81] Many critics decried the move, saying DeSantis is punishing even a locally powerful monopoly for daring to criticize him. Democrats warned that DeSantis may be destroying Florida's economy in the future because there's nothing stopping Disney from leaving Orlando and setting up shop instead in, say, Atlanta, Georgia.[82][83] If Florida loses Disney the rest of the country may be inclined to cut the state off and just let it drift into the Atlantic.

Punishing corporations for criticizing him[edit]

When Disney, who literally owns a city in Florida, criticized DeSantis for his signing of the "Don't Say Gay" bill, DeSantis and his Republican loyalists publicly threatened to strip Disney of self-government power over Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was established to allow Disney to govern property that would eventually become Disney World.[84] DeSantis signed the district dissolution bill on April 23, apparently not caring that the literal billions of dollars that Reedy Creek accrues would then be shifted as a financial burden to the citizens of Orange County; he signed a de facto tax hike on average Americans.[85][86][87] The bill also revokes Disney's special tax exemptions.[88]

Restricting education[edit]

Citing the racist manufactroversy over critical race theory, DeSantis banned 28 math textbooks, which is a very powerful brain drain against Floridian students, some of whom need those math textbooks to actually graduate or be proper workers in their fields (like engineering).[89]

DeSantis signed a bill limiting tenure at public universities, framing it as a way to stop faculty staffers and teachers from being "too political," which ultimately means he's just trying to term-limit all progressive teachers and faculty so they can be replaced with right-wing teachers who can bring up a new generation of conservative extremism.[90]

Parental rights and wrongs[edit]

Lest anyone think that DeSantis is simply in favor of expanding parental rights, he is not. He is in only in favor of parental rights within his own narrow views for straight parents. He expressed anger at children going to a "Drag the Kids to Pride" in Texas, and suggested that child protective statutes could be used against parents who allow their children to attend similar events in Florida.[91]

Consolidating power away from the state legislature[edit]

By early 2021, the Florida Republican Party was fully beholden to DeSantis, whose entire 2021 agenda was rubber-stamped by his party, including a bill that bans so-called vaccine passports, a bill that punishes Big Tech companies for "censoring" Republican voices, and anti-riot measures that are really just anti-protest bills.[92][93] This culminated in December 2021, when DeSantis announced that as part of a $100 million funding proposal for the Florida National Guard, $3.5 million would be allocated to the reactivation of the Florida State Guard, a volunteer state defense force that has been inactive since 1947. It would allow for training and equipment of up to 200 members.[94][95][96] He passed a bill that banned de-platforming xenophobic voices and could fine Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for such deplatforming, which experts say is unconstitutional.[97] This is deeply ironic and hypocritical, because he applauded Twitter for suspending (and thereby de-platforming) Rebekah Jones, a whistleblower and public critic of DeSantis' COVID policies.[98]

Coronavirus response: Why he's called DeathSantis[edit]

DeSantis having to use big pictures to explain Florida's COVID situation to Trump.

Floridians, never known to like their leaders, made a point to call him "Governor DeathSantis" or "DeSatan" due to over 70,000 people dying on his watch during COVID-19.[99][100][101][102]

DeSantis gained national infamy for royally screwing up his state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, notably by banning mask fines and taking action against local jurisdictions enforcing mask mandates.[103][104][105] Despite his state's worse-than-average death toll, DeSantis is fond of claiming his response has been a massive success, a claim echoed by many conservatives, while ranting against evidence-based restrictive measures taken to combat it.[106][107]

On March 2, 2022, he scolded students for wearing face masks at a press conference. Some removed their masks, others didn't, and DeSantis was called a bully for his Trumpian behavior.[108][109] He appointed anti-vaxxer Joseph Ladapo, a vocal supporter of his COVID-19 policies, as Florida's surgeon general. Ladapo has a history of promoting unproven treatments against COVID-19, opposes COVID-19 vaccine requirements, has questioned the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and has associated with America's Frontline Doctors, a pro-Trump healthcare group known for promoting falsehoods about the pandemic.[110][111] Yes, a doctor who is okay with people dying is now surgeon general of Florida.[112]

Stubbornly refusing to listen to health experts, DeSantis instead banned vaccine passports while claiming that the government banning a health and life-saving policy is "small government" or something.[113] But in August 2021, Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis could not ban mask mandates in schools.[114] DeSantis immediately appealed, causing Cooper's ruling to be automatically suspended while the appeal was considered, but Cooper overruled that suspension on September 8, lifting DeSantis's ban, reasoning that un-vaccinated children needed to be protected.[115]

He also made an executive order allowing parents to not mask their students, stating that if the State Board of Education determines that "a district school board is unwilling or unable to comply with the law," the State Board therefore may "withhold the transfer of state funds, discretionary grant funds, discretionary lottery funds," or any "other funds specified as eligible for this purpose" by the legislature until the school district "complies with the law or state board rule and declare the school district ineligible for competitive grants." This is DeSantis threatening to starve schools of resources unless they obey him.[116] Instead of vaccines, DeSantis promoted a COVID treatment antibody by Regeneron, which is a major investment of DeSantis's largest political donor.[117]

In September 2020, ignoring all advice to the contrary, DeSantis prohibited local governments from imposing fines or shutting down businesses for violations of mask mandates. The order also allowed restaurants to immediately reopen at full capacity and restricted local governments from ordering restaurants to operate at less than half-capacity.[118] A Florida-based newspaper found that DeSantis not only ignored scientists and health experts, not only invited only people who agreed with him regarding the pandemic, but also deliberately misled the public on COVID multiple times.[119] He set up vaccination sites in wealthy communities affiliated with donors to the governor’s political campaigns, showing he absolutely knows vaccines are necessary to survive the pandemic yet plays favorites with whose lives he actually prioritizes.[120] He later threatened to withhold COVID-19 vaccines from counties that criticized the manner in which vaccines were distributed, while continuing to distribute vaccines to people who supported his campaign.[121][122]

On May 3, 2021, DeSantis signed an executive order officially rescinding the state of emergency and all COVID-19-related public health orders. This order superseded all local public health orders and prohibited municipalities from enacting any further public health order related to COVID-19.[123] The same day, he signed a bill into law that prohibited businesses, cruise ships, schools, and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination for use of services.[124][125] While he got the initial vaccine doses, he has been intentionally oblique about whether he got the booster shots to go with it; even Trump has called him out for being an idiot and a coward over refusing to just say whether he got his shots and for not encouraging others to do so.[126]

In 2022 for political purposes, DeSantis completely reversed his views on COVID vaccine efficacy, falsely disparaging vaccines and "convening skeptics to buck guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention".[127]

How he became the "Smarter Trump"[edit]

DeSantis in Arizona during the 2022 primary season.

The reason he stands out so much is because he's smarter than the average Trump thug, being able to bounce between power bases easily: he was once a Tea Party goon while in the Freedom Caucus before jumping on the Trump bandwagon, then going on the anti-vax and anti-mask chariot during COVID. When he goes on an "anti-woke" tirade, that's him oppressing sexual and gender minorities while painting those same disadvantaged minorities as part of the elite. It's not supposed to make sense — it's supposed to rile his base up so he can crush any and all opposition to capital, and increasingly, all criticisms of his rule. He doesn't piss off as many people as Trump because he knows how to frame his extremism as if it's rational: instead of actively going after trans kids, he instead frames it as if parents of trans kids are "groomers," which is simply untrue but it sounds better to the average suburbanite compared to Trump actively inciting violence against everyone he hated.

Another example. When he was running for president, Trump was asked a question about the minimum wage. He did not say the minimum wage shouldn't increase. He said wages are too high and that wages should be lower.[128] But DeSantis doesn't do that. Instead, he says it is "not the time" to raise wages, he says it shouldn't be a state constitutional amendment, he says the usual party line of wages "hurting businesses," and he says "There's problems with that regardless of how you feel about it," which muddies the waters and tries to put the onus on supporters of wage increases.[129] But just like Trump, he is transparently corrupt, nakedly biased in favor of the rich, and openly boorish towards anyone who criticizes him, he just talks more like a politician so he gets to skate by the media much easier.[130] This of course wasn't enough to stop Florida from increasing its minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour in late 2021, with 15 an hour being the target a few years later.[131]

Everything he's done as Governor boils down to him being an attention whore. He jumps into every single major culture war topic of the day, like a YouTuber or streamer chasing trends, so he can stay relevant to the news cycle and remind people he still exists. He wants to flex his power as governor, he wants to be the next strongman, and he wants to model his "imperial governorship" for a future imperial presidency; he provides a model for authoritarians to use government to punish critics far more competently than Trump. He can't be away from the bright lights forever, otherwise he becomes forgotten and irrelevant, so he has to be crueler and crueler with every new thing he does to stay in the spotlight. He needs to stand out next to all the other far-right troglodytes.[132] His salvo against Disney, for instance, is not about changing the company. He wants the clout, the talking point that he took on the most powerful American pop culture monopoly in history. He doesn't care if it will actually increases taxes on Floridians. He doesn't care if it actually fails. He wants to be known as the governor who fought Disney. He needs that notch on his belt. It always goes back to what he wants for himself, and no one else.[133][134]

Political future[edit]

DeSantis' landslide reelection in 2022. Turns out staying home on Election Day has consequences. Who knew?

Unlike Andrew Gillum, who stepped away from public life after losing, DeSantis has forced himself into the spotlight ever since 2020, taking full advantage of the Republican Party's far-right shift to set himself up as an aspiring wannabe strongman. In a world where everyone fears the emergence of a so-called Smarter Trump, DeSantis is usually named as exactly that — an heir apparent to American fascism who uses every measure possible to green-light murder against protesters and pushing for even more LGBT kids to commit suicide.

Come 2022, DeSantis became one of many Republican presidential hopefuls who prodded or outright criticized Trump's record, particularly once the true weight of Trump's COVID inaction and apologia for dictators who oppose the United States really started setting in.[135]

Many reporters have noted that DeSantis may well be the "future of Trumpism" because he marries the elites with the populists within the party. DeSantis is not some pretender or a faker, he's a true believer, having "developed reactionary suspicions of democracy" years before Trump ever made noises about running for president. In fact, DeSantis once wrote a book warning of the dangers of a megalomaniacal president who threatened to destroy the foundations of the republic… except he was talking about Obama, not Trump.[136]

He won’t be eligible to run in the 2026 gubernatorial election due to term limits, but he will be able to run again for a hypothetical third term in 2030.[137] It’s possible he'll focus more on trying to be president than to be governor again after 2022.


  1. Buddy MacKay, Chiles' lieutenant governor lost the election to Jeb Bush but Chiles unexpectedly died in office a month before Jeb's inauguration. MacKay then became the governor of Florida for the remaining month of Chiles' term, instantaneously becoming a lame duck governorship.


  1. Hannah Natanson, "Hide your books to avoid felony charges, Fla. schools tell teachers", Washington Post, 31 January 2023
  2. "DeSantis Warns Florida Not to ‘Monkey This Up,’ and Many Hear a Racist Dog Whistle" by Julia Jacobs, New York Times, 2018 August 29
  4. Jake Lahut and Zachary Petrizzo (March 16, 20223). "The GOP Campaign Trail Is Already Getting DeSantis-Proofed". The Daily Beast. (Archived).
  5. Margaret Hartmann (March 16, 2023). "Ron DeSantis Eating Pudding With His Fingers Will End His 2024 Bid". Daily Intelligencer. New York.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 DeSantis’s pivotal service at Guantánamo during a violent year by Michael Kranish (March 19, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  7. Don't Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantanamo by Mansoor Adayfi (2021) Hachette Books. ISBN 0306923866.
  8. Joanna Walters, "Ron DeSantis tells Florida voters not to 'monkey this up' by choosing Gillum"
  9. Florida’s Ron DeSantis Doubles Down on ‘Monkey This Up’ Comment
  10. Jerry Ianelli, "Eight Times Ron DeSantis "Accidentally" Did Racist Stuff"
  11. Mark Hand, "Gillum, Abrams pledge to fight voter disenfranchisement in Florida and Georgia"
  12. Andrew Gillum, "Think Iowa was a mess? Black voters deal with similar chaos all the time."
  13. "Hinting veto, DeSantis pressures lawmakers to reduce Black-held congressional districts," Politico
  14. "Florida's Supreme Court has struck another blow against gerrymandering," Vox
  15. A video explaining the split between DeSantis and his own state party YouTube
  16. "Ron DeSantis is drawing Democrats out of the equation in Florida," CNN
  17. "DeSantis draws congressional map that would dramatically expand GOP’s edge in Florida," NBC News
  18. "Florida Governor DeSantis given power to gerrymander state’s electoral maps," The Guardian
  19. "Dangerous and Unprecedented: Florida GOP Gives DeSantis Power to Draw Congressional Map," Common Dreams
  20. Judge strikes down part of Florida congressional redistricting map, The Tributary, May 11, 2022
  21. Florida Governor Election Results 2018. Politico.
  22. ] Desperate, Deranged DeSantis Devolves Into Dumb Troll]. Ruben Navarrette Jr. The Daily Beast.
  23. "Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis: Environmental records differ on climate change, algae blooms," TCPalm
  24. "Gov. DeSantis signs law preempting gas station regulations," Florida Politics
  25. "Ron Desantis Signs a Bill That Mandates Cities Keep Using Fossil Fuels," Gizmodo
  26. "Local Florida governments can’t restrict ‘dirty energy’ usage under new law signed by DeSantis," WFLA
  27. "Gov. DeSantis takes aim at ‘ideological’ investing, wants ESG prohibitions," News 4 Jax
  28. "Florida Gov signs law requiring students, faculty be asked their political beliefs," The Hill
  29. "DeSantis signs bill requiring survey of Florida students, professors on their political views," Salon
  30. "Florida Adopts Nation's Toughest Restrictions On Protests," NPR
  31. "DeSantis signs law banning protests outside private homes," Axios
  32. "DeSantis proposing 'anti-mob' legislation to expand Florida's 'stand your ground' law," The Hill
  33. Novoa v. Diaz — Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Case 4:22-cv-00324-MW-MAF, Filed 11/17/22 at Foundation for Individual Rights and ExpressionWikipedia (FIRE)
  34. "‘Positively dystopian’: Florida judge blocks DeSantis’ anti-woke law for colleges" by Andrew Atterbury, Politico, 2022 November 17
  35. "Florida students return to schools reshaped by Gov. DeSantis' anti-'woke' education agenda," Steve Contorno, CNN
  36. "Pinellas teacher accused of Marxist lessons says his focus is U.S. history," Tampa Bay Times
  37. "In Wake of Capitol Riot, GOP Legislatures “Rebrand” Old Anti-BLM Protest Laws," The Intercept
  38. "Ron DeSantis signs crack down on constitutional amendments, solidifying Republican control in Florida," Lawrence Mower, Tampa Bay Times
  39. "Gov. DeSantis signs HB5, 'eviscerating' the democratic process in Florida," Jim Saunders, Orlando Weekly
  40. "Ron DeSantis signs Amendment 4 bill, limiting felon voting," Lawrence Mower, Tampa Bay Times
  41. "Florida governor signs bill requiring felons to pay court fees and fines to be eligible to vote," CBS
  42. "A controversial Florida law stops some former felons from voting. A judge just blocked part of it," Vox
  43. "DeSantis urges federal court to put felon voting rights ruling on hold," Dara Kam, Tampa Bay Times
  44. Article explaining the whole ordeal by Harvard Law Review
  45. "DeSantis quietly signs abortion consent, E-Verify immigration laws," Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel
  46. "DeSantis signs Florida's 15-week abortion ban into law," CNN
  47. "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks," NPR
  48. "DeSantis signs 15-week abortion ban into law," Wesh
  49. "Florida election security bill would create special officers to investigate violations," WFLA
  50. "DeSantis wants felony penalties for ‘ballot harvesting’ and more hurdles for voters," Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
  51. "Florida Approves the Country’s First Election Police Force," Mother Jones
  52. "DeSantis signs controversial voting bill, creates election crimes office," Tampa Bay Times
  53. "Florida’s new election police unit is the scariest voter suppression effort yet," Vox
  54. "It’s going to be an army: Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections," Politico
  55. "Fired Florida Data Scientist Launches A Coronavirus Dashboard Of Her Own," Laurel Wamsley
  56. "Florida Agents Raid Home Of Rebekah Jones, Former State Data Scientist," NPR
  57. His statement in full.
  58. "A progressive prosecutor clashed with DeSantis. Now he’s out of a job," Wasington Post
  59. "Warren says Florida anti-riot bill ‘tears a couple corners off the Constitution," Channel 8 News
  60. "Tallahassee and 8 other cities file lawsuit challenging HB 1 'anti-riot' bill," Tallahassee News
  61. "Hillsborough declines to prosecute 67 arrested in protests," Tampa Bay Times
  62. "Ron DeSantis blocks funds for Tampa Bay Rays after team’s gun safety tweets," The Guardian
  63. "DeSantis blocks state money for Tampa Bay Rays training facility after team tweets against gun violence," CNN
  64. Politico
  65. "DeSantis signs bill banning transgender athletes from playing on certain teams into law," ABC Action News
  66. [1]
  67. Jaclyn Diaz, Florida's governor signs controversial law opponents dubbed 'Don't Say Gay'. NPR, 28 March 2022.
  68. "Don't Say Gay bill passes Florida Senate," ABC News
  69. "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signals support for 'Don't Say Gay' bill," CNN
  70. "Tampa Bay students walk out in protest of Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill," Tampa Bay Times
  71. "Students across Florida walkout of classes in protest of “Don’t say gay” bill," LGBTQ Nation
  73. Tweet showing the leaked memo
  74. "Florida Department of Health pushes back on federal guidance on trans youth care," ABC News
  75. "Florida releases guidance clashing with HHS advice on transgender kids," Politico
  76. "Florida health department advises against gender-affirming care for youth," CNN
  77. "DeSantis asks medical board to ban transgender healthcare," Axios
  78. Zinnia Jones (August 25, 2022). "Catholic Medical Association members wrote a majority of Florida Medicaid’s anti-trans expert reports. Last year, CMA declared a faith-based commitment against approving of any transition care." Gender Analysis.
  79. "DeSantis seeks details on transgender university students", The Associated Press.
  80. "Ron DeSantis requested the information of trans students who sought care at Florida's public universities. Now students are planning a statewide walkout.", Insider.
  81. Tweet showing the governor's proclamation
  82. "Randy Fine: Reedy Creek dissolution bill is what happens when you ‘kick the bees’ nest," Florida Politics
  83. "DeSantis goes after Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District," Click Orlando
  84. "Florida lawmakers consider stripping Disney of self-government power," Wesh
  85. "DeSantis wanted to punish Disney. Repealing its tax status may hurt taxpayers instead," NPR
  86. "Disney Government Dissolution Bill Signed By Florida Governor," Huffington Post
  87. "Florida's governor signs law revoking Disney powers," BBC
  88. "DeSantis signs bill revoking Disney’s special self-governing status in Florida," NBC News
  89. "Florida bans 28 math textbooks in panic over Critical Race Theory," RawStory
  90. "DeSantis signs bill limiting tenure at Florida public universities," Tampa Bay
  91. Ron DeSantis’s drag show comments foretell a vile trend by Alyssa Rosenberg (June 13, 2022 at 6:24 p.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  92. "Ron’s regime: Florida Republicans give DeSantis what he wants," Politico
  93. "It's over. Who won? Who lost? A look back at the 2021 Florida legislative session," Tallahassee News
  94. "Gov. DeSantis seeks to reinstate Florida State Guard," ABC Action News
  95. "Gov. DeSantis proposes reestablishing Florida State Guard civilian volunteer force," News4Jax
  96. "Gov. DeSantis Wants a Florida State Guard. Here's How They Work in Other States," NBC Miami
  97. "In nod to Trump, Florida is set to ban 'deplatforming' by tech companies," NBC News
  98. "DeSantis applauds fired whistleblower’s Twitter suspension, the latest in an ongoing feud," Washington Post
  99. COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report: State Overview by March 10, 2022
  100. "Florida lawyer fundraising to put a Ron 'DeathSantis' billboard outside of the governor's mansion," Colin Wolf, Orlando Weekly
  101. "'DeathSantis' Sign Creators Say Florida Governor Is Letting Coronavirus flourish," Newsweek
  102. [2]
  103. Florida governor lifts all restaurant restrictions, bans mask fines as COVID-19 spreads
  104. Jane Musgrave: "Coronavirus: DeSantis lays groundwork to overturn local mask mandates, chides 'lockdown' states"
  105. John Kennedy, Sarasota Herald Tribune: "Gov. DeSantis looks ready to limit mask-wearing emergency orders by local governments"
  106. Putting 'politics in front of lives': DeSantis faces criticism over Florida's Covid-19 response
  107. A good take on the misinformation DeSantis is spewing by Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times
  108. "DeSantis called a ‘bully’ after he scolds students for wearing masks," Politico
  109. "Please Take Them Off: Florida’s DeSantis Scolds Masked Students," BNN Bloomberg
  110. "Florida's new surgeon general opposes mandates, calls COVID-19 vaccines "nothing special"," CBSNEWS
  111. "DeSantis's new surgeon general opposes vaccine mandates," The Hill
  112. "How a doctor who questioned vaccine safety became DeSantis’ surgeon general pick," Politico
  113. You can read his statement here
  114. "Florida Judge Defies DeSantis Appeal, Allowing School Mask Rules," Johnathan Levin, Bloomberg
  115. "Judge rules against Florida Gov. DeSantis' ban on mask mandates in schools," CNN
  116. The Executive Order by DeSantis
  117. "Florida Gov. DeSantis promotes Regeneron, a COVID-19 treatment connected to one of his largest donors," Herald Tribune
  118. "Florida reopens state’s economy despite ongoing pandemic," AP
  119. Sun Sentinel's archived article explaining it
  120. "Florida Gov. DeSantis accused of favoritism in distributing Covid vaccine, Congress urged to investigate," Will Feuer, CNBC
  121. "Shameful and inhumane: DeSantis threatens to withhold vaccine amid criticism," Ars Technica
  122. "DeSantis threatens to withhold COVID vaccine over complaints," Sun Sentinel
  123. Florida Gov. DeSantis suspends all remaining Covid restrictions: ‘We are no longer in a state of emergency’," CNBC
  124. "DeSantis signs bill banning vaccine ‘passports,’ suspends local pandemic restrictions," Tampa Bay Times
  125. "Florida Gov. DeSantis invalidates COVID rules statewide: No need to police people 'at this point'," Tallahassee News
  127. DeSantis reverses himself on coronavirus vaccines, moves to right of Trump: In a potential wedge issue for the 2024 primary, DeSantis is attacking the life-saving covid shots he once praised and promoted by Isaac Arnsdorf (December 17, 2022 at 4:19 p.m. EST) The Washington Post.
  128. "Donald Trump, a literal billionaire, just said on national TV that wages are too high," Dylan Matthews, Vox
  129. "Gov. Ron DeSantis urges Floridians to shoot down $15 minimum wage amendment," Florida Politics
  130. [ Video explaining his corruption and showing his quote on the minimum wage.
  131. "Florida's minimum wage increases on Thursday despite opposition," Pensacola News Journal
  132. "Ron DeSantis flexes the raw power of his imperial governorship," CNN
  133. "Ron DeSantis vs. the Mouse," Slate
  134. "How Disney found itself in the middle of a culture war," Vox
  135. "Covid, Russia and crime: GOP presidential hopefuls take swipes at Trump’s record," Politico
  136. "Is Ron DeSantis the Future of Trumpism?" Johnathan Chait, New York Magazine