from the zero-sum-governing dept
At one point, we had a functioning Constitutional Republic. Sure, it wasn’t an actual democracy — the Electoral College still elected our president — but it seemed to function about as well as any major nation’s government does, if not better on most occasions.
Then things changed. For reasons I still can’t understand, a failed billionaire with a sexual harassment problem was elected president. He lost the popular vote but won the electoral college vote, providing his base with plenty of reasons to ensure the electoral college still made the major decisions for the US of A.
After four years of extreme mismanagement, Trump lost the next election. He not only lost the popular vote, but he lost the electoral college vote. But rather than lame duck his way into presidential history like his predecessors, he offered his support to his followers’ attempt to overthrow the government.
This action shocked the portion of the nation still capable of being shocked following four years of demonizing anyone not straight or white while people died by the millions as the Trump Administration refused to treat a pandemic like a pandemic.
While, again for bizarre and incomprehensible reasons, Trump remains the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, somewhat distantly behind him is the great hope of Republicans who think “what if Trumpy, but not quite so Trumpy,” who also currently presides over Florida. Ron DeSantis has absorbed the lessons taught by one of worst presidents ever to endear himself to a voting base that seemingly desires the chance to have their throats crushed by their chosen government thug. He speaks for so-called constitutional originalists who believe the Constitution doesn’t cover anything they don’t like.
DeSantis is the freshest face of the Party of Hate, which has spent the past half-decade leveraging the support of political bottom feeders to roll back an already-shredded Constitution. If you think reversing Roe vs. Wade was the end goal, you’re lying to yourself. That may have set us back 50 years. The end goal is taking us back at least 150 years to a time when no one but white men could vote, and anyone not immediately recognizable as hetero would not be recognized as a human being with human rights.
Executive power has always been accessible to executives — whether they preside at the national or state level. Occasionally, abuses happen. But most executives seem to realize they have more to lose than gain if they leverage these powers to destroy their opposition.
Not only are the gloves off post-Trump, but Florida governor Ron DeSantis obviously feels he has nothing to lose by engaging in obviously-political deployments of his executive power. At one point, we had something resembling a democracy, replete with checks and balances. Now, we’re dealing with a competitive set of autocrats who desire a fuller deployment of ex-president Trump’s zero-sum version of democracy.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension of the prosecutor in Orlando is drawing attention to his repeated use of his executive authority to remove local officials whose policies he disagrees with, but who have not been charged with crimes.
Unlike previous Florida governors of both parties, who used their power under the Florida Constitution to suspend elected officials when they were charged with breaking the law, DeSantis has repeatedly removed elected officials for political and policy reasons.
Wednesday’s move — suspending Monique Worrell, the state attorney in Orange and Osceola counties — comes as DeSantis is looking to change the subject away from the turmoil that has engulfed his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
His presidential campaign team pushed out a series of talking points and other messages on social media touting what he’d done to Worrell, a Democrat who was elected in 2020 with 65.7% of the vote. “This is what we can expect under a DeSantis presidency,” Adam Laxalt, chair of Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting DeSantis, posted on social media.
As this report from Anthony Man for the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes, this is highly unusual behavior from a state governor. While it might make sense to eliminate corruption by ousting policy makers charged with crimes, the only reason to do what DeSantis is doing is to ensure no one but DeSantis makes the rules. That’s not democracy or even a state-level version of a constitutional republic. This is DeSantis paving the road to autocracy — hedging his bets in case the former Asshole-in-Chief decides to run again, despite facing multiple criminal charges himself.
Democracy means reaching across the aisle to make things better for all of the governed. Under DeSantis and others post-Trump, democracy has come to mean throwing bones to the worst of worst people casting votes — the ones who would rather see this country die than have to put up with anything they don’t like.
Need any more confirmation this isn’t just “government business as usual?” Here you go:
Republicans praised DeSantis’ latest move.
Appearing with DeSantis when he announced the decision in Tallahassee, state Attorney General Ashley Moody said “we’re fortunate to have a governor committed to both the rule of law and to holding elected officials accountable for doing the jobs that they swore to do.”
Moody, a Republican ally of DeSantis, said it wasn’t a political move. “ I commend Governor DeSantis for taking this brave step and ensuring that citizens of the Ninth Circuit have a prosecutor that puts their public safety as their very first agenda.”
Wayne Ivey, the Republican sheriff of Brevard County, joined Moody’s praise.
Everything seen here is performative. But that term undersells the danger it poses to the state and the republic beyond it. It’s one thing to do dumb stuff for the cheap applause of bigots. It’s quite another to engage in performative acts that have long-lasting repercussions far beyond the initial performance. The fact that only Republicans are willing to applaud this abuse of executive power says what DeSantis will never publicly admit: he wants to run a tinpot dictatorship in Florida and, if elected, do the same thing to the other 49 states.
What we’re seeing here are the actions of someone who doesn’t want to lead a democracy. He may be angling for the top job, but he’s indicated he’s only interested in serving certain constituents, rather than the entirety of the governed.
This sort of thing has been observed repeatedly in the former USSR (and Russia under Putin). It’s a purge. And from what we can see here, a presidential front-runner is making it clear he wants to replace the stars-and-stripes with whatever Florida’s equivalent of the hammer-and-sickle is: presumably an an alligator and bath salts.
I realize some commenters will read this post and complain (disingenously) that Techdirt has become “too political.” Hey, we didn’t elect the fools doing this shit. And beyond that, when I hear people complain that I’m too mean to Trump and those walking the path he paved with three-inch-lifts, all I really hear is people upset they’re no longer able to use the word “faggot” in public as freely as they used to.
If you want to defend autocratic acts by hateful people in power, at least have the honesty to admit you have a preference in boot polish flavor. Otherwise, maybe take a couple of moments to consider why you think the government should not longer be “for the people,” but rather an abusable set of options for the tin-pottiest politicians ever elected.