Gov. Ron DeSantis took his oath of office for a second time on Tuesday and delivered a pugnacious speech painting him as a champion of “freedom” and constitutional principles and vowing to vanquish a “woke” federal government, education unions, and “technocratic elites.”
Coming off a near-20-point reelection victory in November, the governor vowed to “stand our ground” in defense of low taxes, parental rights in education, “law and order,” and more — although Democrats, independents, and overall progressives in Florida would likely beg to differ.
“We have articulated a vision for a free and prosperous state. We have, through persistence and hard work, executed on that vision. We have produced favorable results and now we are here today because the people of Florida have validated our efforts in record fashion,” DeSantis told an enthusiastic audience arrayed under sunny skies in bleachers erected on the lawn in front of Florida’s Old Historic Capitol.
“In captaining the ship of state, we choose to navigate the boisterous sea of liberty rather than cower in the calm docks of despotism,” he said.
“We face attacks. We take hits. But we weather the storm. We stand our ground. And we do what’s right. As the Book of Psalms reminds us, ‘I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.’ We have refused to use polls and to put our finger in the wind. Leaders do not follow; they lead.”
The governor said nothing about major challenges facing everyday Floridians, however, including high rents, mortgage rates, and homeowner insurance costs. Florida Democrats took note of that omission.
‘Desperate chase for the MAGA base’
“This is probably the first Florida governor to give an inaugural speech not speaking to the people of our great state and the challenges we all face, but directed at GOP primary voters and billionaire donors,” Fentrice Driskell of Hillsborough County, the Democratic leader in the Florida House, said in a written statement.
“Any time he wants to distract from his own failed record, he creates a new fake ‘woke’ boogeyman to battle but doesn’t really address real issues Floridians are struggling with like housing affordability and health care that doesn’t bankrupt families. We’ve had two special sessions to address the property insurance crisis and nothing has been done to actually give relief to Floridians who can no longer afford to live in Florida,” she added.
“In his desperate chase for the MAGA base, Ron DeSantis is setting the tone for his second term by vowing to sign an even more extreme abortion ban, bailing out special interests while raising costs on Floridians, and promising to go after health care providers. As the 2024 GOP primary shapes up, it’s clear Republicans will race to out-MAGA each other, and DeSantis is no different,” the DNC War Room, an arm of the Democratic National Committee, said in a written statement.
DeSantis didn’t mention abortion in his speech but he has signaled willingness to “sign great life legislation,” whatever that means. The governor has been cautious about what he says about abortion restrictions. A law bearing DeSantis’ signature bans abortions past 15 weeks’ gestation without exception for rape or incest.
Also unmentioned was the possibility of a presidential bid by the governor, who led Donald Trump — his estranged political mentor — by 52% to 38% among likely GOP primary voters, according to a recent poll by The Wall Street Journal.
Also taking their oaths of office were Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and newly elected Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson. All are Republicans (with Simpson replacing Nikki Fried, the former Democratic Agriculture commissioner). So is Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who also took her oath for the new term.
Dignitaries in attendance included former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush and members of the Florida Supreme Court — but only members of the court’s conservative wing. Accompanying DeSantis were First Lady Casey DeSantis and the couple’s three small children. Casey wore a pale green sheath dress that extended to calf length and included a matching cape. She wore white high heels and white evening gloves.
The governor himself wore a navy blue suit with a light blue tie and his signature black cowboy boots.
The pomp surrounding the occasion included a 19-gun salute and a flyover by Florida National Guard fighter jets. An overflow crowd of some hundreds watched on a screen from a street corner outside of the event, cheering and clapping as DeSantis touted Florida as the “free state.”
A vendor outside the event flogged DeSantis merchandise such as shirts, hats, and buttons. One tee featured a snarling alligator against a state flag with the message, “Don’t Tread on Florida.” A button displayed a smiling DeSantis wearing sunglasses and read, “Luv My Gov.”
In his speech, which ran a little over 16 minutes, DeSantis argued that four years ago he promised conservative government, low taxes, education reforms, end “judicial activism,” protection of natural resources, “law and order,” to rebuild communities damaged by hurricanes. “And we delivered,” he said.
“From the Space Coast to the Sun Coast, from St. Johns to St. Lucie, from the streets of Hialeah to the speedway in Daytona, from the Okeechobee all the way up to Micanopy, freedom lives here in our great Sunshine State of Florida,” he said.
“It lives in the courage of those who patrol the streets and who keep our communities safe. It lives in the industry of those who work long hours to earn a living and raise their families. It lives in the dedication of those who teach our children. It lives in the determination of those who raise our food. It lives in the wisdom of our senior citizens. It lives in the dreams of the historic number of families who have moved from states across this country because they saw Florida as the land of liberty and the land of sanity.”
The governor touted Florida as No. 1 in areas, including the fastest growing state, new business formations, tourism, “parental involvement” in education, “freedom,” and public higher education, although the data weren’t clear on those areas.
Actually, Idaho is the fastest growing state, according to the latest World Population Review numbers, at 2.12%. Florida ranked No. 7, at 1.12%. U.S. News & World Report did give Florida its top ranking for the state’s higher education system, based on various data points such as low tuition and fees at in-state, four-year public universities. The top accolade for “parental involvement” came from the conservative Center for Education Reform.
Bryan Griffin, press secretary for DeSantis, told the Phoenix by email, “We typically accompany any ‘#1’ announcement with an accompanying press release with citations, etc. “If you scroll back through our press releases on https://www.flgov.com/ you should find one for each of these items.”
DeSantis sketched a second-term program in vague terms. He wants “record tax relief, particularly for Florida families who are grappling with inflation,” he said.
“We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and to students, not partisan interest groups,” he added.
“And we must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology,” he continued.
That said, educators may disagree with DeSantis’ remarks in that arena.
“Florida must always be a great place to raise a family. We will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence,” DeSantis added, drawing one of a number of standing ovations.
“We will always remain a law-and-order state. We will always support law enforcement and we will always reject soft-on-crime policies that put our communities at risk.”
Finally, reprising a line from his 2019 inaugural address, DeSantis promised to preserve the environment. “We will leave Florida to God better than we found it,” he said. (However, Florida’s natural waters continue to suffer under the burden of overdevelopment.)
DeSantis contrasted his policies to those in states with high taxes and spending, undue deference to teacher unions, and that have “imposed medical authoritarianism in the guise of pandemic mandates and restrictions that lack a scientific basis.”
“This bizarre but prevalent ideology that permeates these policy measures purports to act in the name of justice for the marginalized, but it frowns upon American institutions. It rejects merit and achievement, and it advocates identity essentialism,” he said.
“We reject this woke ideology. We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy. We will not allow reality, facts, and truth become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”
While the governor did not comment specifically on his presidential aspirations, DeSantis also took square aim at the Biden administration.
“Florida’s success has been made more difficult by the floundering federal establishment in Washington, D.C.,” DeSantis said, which he blamed for inflation, COVID restrictions, the immigration and narcotic crises, and an energy policy that has “crippled our nation’s domestic production, causing energy to cost more for our citizens and eroding our nation’s energy security and, in the process, our national security.”
The “sprawling, unaccountable, and out-of-touch bureaucracy” doesn’t “act on behalf of us but instead looms over us and imposed its will on us,” the governor continued.
“The results of this have been predictably dismal. It has causes many to be pessimistic about the country’s future; some even say that failure is inevitable,” he said.
“Florida is proof positive that we the people are not destined for failure. Decline is a choice; success is obtainable; and freedom is worth fighting for.”
DeSantis also singled out as villains “jet setters in Davos and corporations wielding public power.”
“But fight we must. We embrace our founding creed that our rights are not granted by the courtesy of the state but are endowed by the hand of the Almighty. We reject the idea that self-government can be subcontracted out to technocratic elites who reduce human beings to mere data points. We insist on the restoration of time-tested constitutional principles so that government of, by, and for the people shall not perish from this Earth.”
Along those lines, DeSantis argued that under his leadership the state has embraced the examples of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the nation’s founders, Ronald Reagan, and “the boys who stormed the beached of Normandy to liberate a continent and preserve freedom for the world.”
The governor who led the crusade against critical race theory in the classroom even invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, in which, he said, King “that the Declaration of Independence said what it meant and meant what it says: All men are created equal.”
King also said, “The concept of supremacy is so imbedded in the white society that it will take many years for color to cease to be a judgmental factor.” But DeSantis didn’t note that.
“It is our responsibility here in Florida to carry this torch. We do not run from this responsibility, we welcome it,” DeSantis said.
“We will be on our guard. We will stand firm in the faith. We will be courageous. We will be strong. And we thank God and are proud to be citizens of the great, free state of Florida.”
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix, with Isaac Morgan and Danielle J. Brown
DeSantis’ Inauguration Speech Signals Interest in Presidential Run
Although the content of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ second inaugural speech was supposed to reflect his vision of how the state should run, many of his critics concluded that his speech spoke to a larger goal: running for president.
One of those critics is Gwen Graham, daughter of former Democratic Gov. Bob Graham, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s presidential nomination in 2018. Gwen Graham now serves as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education.
Graham tweeted Tuesday: “He [DeSantis] didn’t care about being in Congress. He didn’t want to serve Florida in the U.S. Senate. As governor, he doesn’t give a damn about Florida or Floridians. All he does has been calculated to run for president. God help us all, if he succeeds.”
While DeSantis has not formally announced a run, he is largely seen as a favored contender for 2024, the Phoenix previously reported.
Another national political figure who weighed in is Roger Stone, an associate of former President Donald Trump who was charged with five counts of lying to Congress. Stone shared a picture of DeSantis and former Gov. Jeb Bush at the inauguration on Twitter.
“Gov Ron DeSantis with his patron Jeb Bush at today’s Inauguration. Birds of a feather …..” Stone tweeted Tuesday.
Bush ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nominee in the 2020 presidential election — which Trump ultimately won.
Trump has already announced his campaign for the 2024 election, although some polls suggest DeSantis might be the preferred Republican nominee.
Statewide Republicans largely congratulated the governor on his second term.
Florida Sen. Nick DeCeglie, a Republican representing part of Pinellas County, tweeted his congratulations to DeSantis.
“Public service is about putting the people you serve above petty politics and media narratives. That’s exactly how our great governor has lead [sic], and that’s why I’m proud to serve alongside him in Florida’s Capitol. Congratulations to our governor and to our First Lady,” DeCeglie wrote.
Florida Rep. Kelly Skidmore, a Democrat representing part of Palm Beach County, noted that some state Democrats attended the inauguration.
“Democratic members of the Florida House did attend and heard what he said, and we are here to remind the governor that our state government is a democracy with checks and balances, not a factory of red meat catch phrases designed to agitate,” Skidmore said in a written statement.
“He covered no new ground, and offered no solutions to problems Floridians face. If he plans to run for president, he certainly needs a new speechwriter,” Skidmore said.
‘Out of touch’
Ida Eskamani, prominent progressive activist and sister of Democratic Florida House member Anna Eskamani, said that DeSantis is “out of touch and out of ideas.”
“Very predictable tropes in this speech,” she tweeted Tuesday. She followed up with another tweet: “Must have used an AI generator for painfully bad speeches.”
Rep. Christopher Benjamin, a Democrat who represents part of Miami-Dade County, responded to a particular statement DeSantis made: “We have refused to use polls and to put our finger in the wind – leaders do not follow, they lead.”
Rep. Benjamin responded in a written statement: “What this says is that we are willing to disregard the age-old maxim that government is for the people by the people. This why we must vote for leaders that will carry the voice of the people regardless of their own ambitions.”
–Danielle J. Brown, Florida Phoenix
Deborah Coffey says
Ron DeSantis…currently, the most dangerous man in America.
Tony Mack says
This is the kind of freedom DeSantis espouses —
“I was screaming and he was smiling”: DeSantis ran Guantanamo torture
By Al Mayadeen English
Source: Eyes Left Podcast
21 Nov 2022 16:55
There is more to than what meets the eye on DeSantis’ military past beyond a mere involvement in Guantanamo Bay.
A recent episode of the Eyes Left Podcast reels in a first-person perspective testimony from a Yemeni ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee who was tortured at the hands of popular Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
The podcast was hosted by Mike Prysner, who is a US veteran that served in Iraq as a Specialist; his duties included ground surveillance and prisoner interrogation. See the rest.
He is a coward and dictator has not done one thing for the people.
Bored Now says
His lame authoritarian tiny hands may work here but it won’t nationally. No one wants to lose rights they’ve become accustomed to having most of their lives. His anti-woke (in other words racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia) gets him “those” voters but the rest see right through the scared, tired, pathetic, hate of Rhonda Santis. Remember, those that protest too much….
I don’t get it ? One article is inflation, recession, higher unemployment for 2023. This article is pro tax everyone more. The inflation/recession article won’t call out Biden-Harris, but lower taxation and DeSantis is some kind of villain for any relief. The state gas tax relief, that was DeSantis, long before Biden-Harris did the Federal gas tax relief. DeSantis has been nearly a year ahead of Biden on anything that has been in the best interest of fixed incomes in FL. Yet somehow Biden is a hero & DeSantis is a villain for all of it. And all we hear are chasing MAGA votes. Really ? One of these days, you are going to realize that all this inflation has robbed you of your retirement & lifestyle. that the best years of your health were stolen from you, society has cast you out with the lies of the golden years of retirement. Biden’s a carpet bagger, snake oil salesman & vote whore, pure & simple. DeSantis is only looking to stop the fleecing of seniors. He does get those votes. He’s going to get mine, only because he’s looking out for our bank accounts.
Ray W. says
Since nearly every recession occurring during my lifetime involved some form of stimulus spending bill that triggered a rise in the inflation rate, it might be wise for Jimbo99 to check on whether inflation began rising after Trump signed the original $1 trillion stimulus package. Quick cut, it did. Inflation hovered around or just under 2% for years during the Obama/Trump economic boom. Inflation more than doubled during the time between Trump’s signing of the stimulus package to the end of his term to a level just over 4%. Is Jimbo99 forgetful? Did he fail to exercise the intellectual rigor necessary to be more accurate in his comments? Does the rise in the inflation rate during the last months of the Trump tenure fail to fit his narrative? Yes, the Biden stimulus bills have also contributed to the current level of inflation, but the better characterization of the issue might be to call it Trump-Biden Inflation.
I should let your comments go. You are beyond help. Anyway, gas tax relief was temporary and timed to coincide with DeSantis election. It was a gimmick that works for simpletons. I’m on a fixed income and if Ron did anything to help me out, I guess I missed it. I’m not sure how or why Biden is a carpet bagger but I’ll leave you to your well-grounded belief in facts…. His entire inauguration speech was steeped in his dependable “anti-woke” rhetoric and said nothing about what his plans are for his second term (as far as improving Floridian’s bank accounts, I mean). But I guess that was a good idea since he doesn’t plan on being governor much longer anyway. Stay tuned, Jimbo, to his travel schedule over the next 18 months. I’m sure it will all be tied tightly to the needs of Florida and have little or nothing to do with his run for the Presidency. But you wouldn’t recognize that either. I hope the nuthouse you live in has enough room for all the other crackpots running around! Thanks for chiming in, Jimbo! Keep it up!!!
Do I care what they wore?
Dennis C Rathsam says
It was a great day in Fl yesterday, The sun shined bright on our governor Ron DeSantis. His vision of a free Fl is music to my ears. As the democratic states continue to destroy thier cities, murder, & crime runs wild, and they look the other way. Its time to restore law,order, & put these criminals in jail.
How many criminals has Ron put in jail? Seems his Florida tax expenditure to fund the Election Police has not found a single incident of voter fraud. But he has arrested innocent voters who have been exonerated by the courts! He’s been active in moving immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard using taxpayer money and thank Ron for that. If he hadn’t done that, I guess some of those people might have made their way to Florida. But wait, maybe after they got to Martha’s Vineyard, they hitched another ride to Florida. So I’m a little confused as to what ol’ Ron has done that’s so impressive. When you get past his stunts and rhetoric, he hasn’t done much for Floridians except those who can be deceived by smoke and mirrors. Sleep well, Dennis, Ron will make sure your imagery is maintained!
Ray W. says
Has anyone else been following the rise in Cuban immigration into South Florida? A compound on a park in the Dry Tortugas was recently closed to the public in order to process a wave of immigrants who reached the island. It seems that some 250,000 Cuban immigrants entered or attempted to enter the United States in 2022, with many seeking entrance across the Texas border. Is it possible that the DeSantis bus scheme had plenty of Cubans who were already in Texas to choose from and decided to transport Venezuelans instead?
Selling t shirts what’s next action cards on himself as some kind of hero. He will copy his idol Donald.
This, “…“In captaining the ship of state, we choose to navigate the boisterous sea of liberty rather than cower in the calm docks of despotism,” he said…” means What? ABTW ron–who exactly is we?
You voted for it. This is what you’re actually getting:
The ultrarich are getting cozy in America’s tax havens at everyone else’s expense
More states are slashing or eliminating taxes, lessening the burden mostly for the wealthy. What does that cost the rest of us?
By Whizy [email protected] Jan 4, 2023, 8:00am EST
“In 2020, a proposed constitutional amendment in Illinois attempted to turn the state’s flat personal income tax of 4.95 percent into a graduated rate that rises with income. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire himself, posed the amendment as a fight for tax fairness that would ask the state’s wealthiest residents to pay a greater share, but he had a formidable foe: Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who poured $54 million into defeating the measure, framing the amendment as an extra burden on Illinois taxpayers that would enable irresponsible government spending. In fact, it would have kept the tax rate the same or lower for Illinoisans making $250,000 or less. (ProPublica estimated that it would have cost Griffin, who currently is worth around $29 billion, an extra $51 million a year in taxes.)
The measure failed to pass.
Illinois’ flat income tax is one example of a regressive state tax system, in which the tax burden decreases the richer someone is. They are designed for the benefit of the wealthy — and sometimes by the wealthy — at the expense of low- and middle-income taxpayers…”
As you enjoy the wonderful challenges of your property taxes, home and auto insurance, prescription drug costs, etc., etc.–your billionaire’s poodle wants you to know–he wuvs ewe.
Donald J Trump says
Ron is a looser and I will steamroller over him and end his political career once and for all. There is so much dirt on 5his scumbag that I will not even break a sweat in releasing everything my investigators have found and document. Ron will be lucky to retain his current office because of everything from moral breakdown to high crimes and misdemeanors. He is done, you know it, I know it and everyone knows it.
Reading this article is like reading a science fiction novel about a dystopian politician spouting out newspeak to the gullible crowds, while sitting in the comfort of my own home knowing it is fiction. But then, it isn’t fiction. Just who the hell is the “despot” DeSantis is fighting against? Be specific. His speech is so convoluted, and off the charts crazy, that nearly everything he stated is way, way out there. Here we go again: up is down and down is up.
The picture of the merchandise at the beginning of the article says it all: headless, mindless bodies so willing to be controlled.
DeSantis promised “Judicial activism.” Do you realize that’s the last thing you want in a “free Florida?”
Y’all want to know what’s going on in the world? Watch Frontline.
“So blow, blow Seminole wind
Blow like you’re never gonna blow again
I’m calling to you like a long lost friend
But I know who you are
And blow, blow from the Okeechobee
All the way up to Micanopy
Blow across the home of the Seminoles
The alligators and the gar.”
That DeSantis, what an original.
Angela Mahler says
So, I guess in Florida being anti-woke is a good thing. Scary. Isn’t being anti-woke the same as being unaware, uninformed, and un educated???? Embarrassing
Mother Catherine says
WOKE is the original Sin of America. Only the Sodom & Gomora’s want to be WOKE.
Mother Catherine: ” WOKE is the original sin of America. Only the Sodom & Gomora’s [sic] want to be WOKE.” Oh, please do elaborate! First of all, the word “woke” is generally not in all caps. Are you yelling? Have you turned the word into an acronym? If so, does the acronym stand for a thought that has nothing to do with the word “woke?” Do you understand the meaning of “enlightenment?” Is this the kind of thing you learned in your church, or by listening to people who have not awakened yet?
Dennis R.: This is precisely why I don’t believe in organized religion. It has little to do with Jesus, and a lot to do with controlling people. It was especially useful during the dark ages, when people lived a great distance apart. “God fearing” and all that. Why should we so fear a being who is supposed to be all loving? Only one answer: control. This is also why I don’t believe in politicians who promote this sort of thing.
DeathSantis spoke yesterday and all the words out of his mouth made no sense. He is another want to be dictator and will be worse then Trump if he goes to Washington. He will never win as president, the country doesn’t approve of him like those that re-elected him to Governor.
Former Republican says
I am a republican voter, but let me warn all republicans, this guy is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Wait until you get your new insurance invoice. I got mine and my auto insurance went from $1400 year to $26oo. I asked Why? The answer given to me was at the state of Florida’s legislature passed a bill that allowed the insurance companies to raise their premiums due to the hurricanes. DeSantis is no friend of the citizens of
florida. He signed it and now we have to pay it. Another thing he did was cut off unemployment funds from the Government and Floridians did not receive the last two months of the governments $300 per week. Again Why? So he could brag that we in Florida do not take government handouts. By the way, the unemployment from the state was almost $200 per week. Check it out
David Schaefer says
DeathSantis is nothing but a Trumper and a useless POS when will the people of Florida wake up and vote this clown out of office…
DeSatan and Trump are proof-positive that a lifeguard needs to watch the gene pool.