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What the DeSantis 'Florida Model' Really Looks Like

By Jen Maravegias | Politics | May 24, 2023 |

By Jen Maravegias | Politics | May 24, 2023 |


Ron DeSantis is going to hop on Twitter later today with his new BFF, Elon Musk, to announce his presidential run. Ron thinks his trifecta of racism, misogyny, and transphobia will go over well in the other 49 states and he sees Florida as a Model For America. There’s even a speech from last fall about it here, but don’t watch it.

Before we let Ron get too far on the National Stage, let’s take a closer look at what The Florida Model actually means. Hint: It means a lot, and none of it is good.

You may have heard a little bit about the feud that’s been going on since Disney’s previous CEO, Bob Chapek, publicly criticized Florida’s anti-trans legislation in March of 2022. Last week, as part of that mess, Disney shut down its plan to build a multi-million-dollar base for Walt Disney Imagineering and the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products division. It was a project that would have injected a lot of money into Florida’s economy and created a lot of jobs.

As much as DeSantis likes to tout Florida as being “business-friendly,” that’s not a sustainable position if he’s going to retaliate against First Amendment-protected speech every time a business leader disagrees with him.

It’s also hard to be “business-friendly” when the NAACP has issued a travel advisory against your state. Yep, that’s a thing that happened last week.

The formal travel notice states, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

Bravo to the NAACP for finally saying all of this out loud. While it’s largely symbolic, it would be impactful if NOW, the ACLU and maybe GLAAD or the Human Rights Campaign issued similar travel advisories. Because what’s going on in Florida is not just affecting one already marginalized group. It’s affecting all of us.

The ACLU has been busy in Florida. Earlier this week they announced a lawsuit over a property law that blocks immigrants from buying homes in large parts of the state. The law targets immigrants from China, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, but according to the lawsuit, singles out Chinese people for the harshest restrictions and penalties. There’s already a similar bill in Texas (because of course there is.) If Ron becomes president, is he going to expand that policy to the rest of the country and trash the Fair Housing Act? What does this say about the state of The American Dream in the 21st century?

Under DeSantis, Florida continues to lead the charge in anti-trans legislation. Last week, he signed a number of bills targeting the transgender community. Arguably the worst of them is House Bill 1521, a ban on transgender people in bathrooms that basically means a trans person can be arrested for using a public bathroom that doesn’t match their sex.

109 (l) “Sex” means the classification of a person as either 110 female or male based on the organization of the body of such 111 person for a specific reproductive role, as indicated by the 112 person’s sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and 113 internal and external genitalia present at birth.

71 (f) “Female” means a person belonging, at birth, to the
72 biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of
73 producing eggs.

83 (h) “Male” means a person belonging, at birth, to the
84 biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of
85 producing sperm.

It’s so nice that they’ve reduced humans down to our “reproductive roles.” The ideal for a lot of the folks who support these bills is a white, Christian nation of straight people coupled up in perfect marriages, popping out white, Christian babies. It all sounds vaguely familiar in a Third Reich sort of way.

While the location of the below video that popped up on Twitter this week isn’t publicized, this is the sort of thing we can all look forward to as more of these harsh “bathroom bills” are passed. Moreso if DeSantis gets his way at the federal level.

Trans rights activists have been warning the public for years that the bills targeting their community will eventually affect straight and gay cis women. Are we prepared for police in the bathrooms performing transvestigations? Just how hetero-normative will we have to present ourselves to be allowed into a bathroom without a cop sticking their hands in our underwear? Or checking our birth certificates?

Luckily the Drag Queens of Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando aren’t taking any of this lying down. Last week the restaurant filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida and Ron DeSantis, claiming the state is depriving the business of its First Amendment rights to free expression by signing bills restricting drag performances that go hand-in-hand with House Bill 1521.

Do you know who else is suing Florida? Parents, Penguin Random House, and PEN America. The suit brought against the Escambia County School District and the Escambia County School Board in Pensacola, Florida alleges that the First Amendment has been violated by book bans “depriving students of access to a wide range of viewpoints, and depriving the authors of the removed and restricted books of the opportunity to engage with readers and disseminate their ideas to their intended audiences.”

It’s about damn time parents started standing up against all of this nonsense. Some of the books that have been banned are because of single complaints made to schools. Conservative activists have been stacking the deck in local school boards as a way to push through book bans and be vocal opponents of “Critical Race Theory” being taught in schools.

But that’s all nonsense too. Critical Race Theory isn’t being taught in any schools (how many times do we have to say this?). What they’re labeling as CRT are really books about the lived history of minorities in this country. In some cases, it’s not even about history. It’s about poetry. Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate, found that out this week when a Florida school restricted access to a number of books, one of which includes her famous poem “The Hill We Climb,” which she read at President Biden’s inauguration.

The restriction was placed after ONE SINGLE PARENT complained that the books contained “indirect hate messages.” The complaint also misidentified the author as Oprah Winfrey. Sooooooo, dumb AND racist.

This is The Florida Model that Ron DeSantis hopes to expand across the country as President — racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, hate, and stupidity. Our country has a terrible history of supporting all of those at one time or another, or at the same time. All of that should be relegated to the history books that are taught in our schools. They should not be something we perpetuate by electing hateful leaders. Or by allowing a vocal minority of hatemongers to infiltrate and commandeer the government.

Let Amanda Gorman tell it:

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain.

If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.

We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.