The job of establishing totalitarian rule is up for grabs, and if you don’t think so, you have not been paying attention to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
No one wants totalitarian rule, you say? What used to be called conservatism is no longer enough for the more zealous right wingers. You hear them say we need strong leaders. But if it’s still true that actions speak louder than words, it really boils down to leader, singular, that appeals to some in the new Republican Party.
The Republican Party I used to represent meant it when is said that government closest to the people was the best government, but it was still open to debate on issues.
Over time, the party has shed some of the ideals of free exchange of opinions. Pushing against the inevitability of change, the GOP has chosen to stir the stew of discontent and frustrations of those whose capacity for resentment is stronger than their ability to adapt to facts.
Following examples of some not-so-subtle rhetoric, enabled in part by a former president whose self-aggrandizement became a substitute for self-esteem in some people, growing numbers of Americans felt they had permission to lash out at any source of irritation – racial, class, educational level, gender – and anything or anyone foreign.
Some Republicans with ambition have chosen to build on the button-pushing style of manipulating supporters. Don’t like the changes in the workplace? Blame the libs. Don’t like the cost of fuel? Blame the climate-change libs. Don’t like the way the last vote count went? Accuse the libs of rigging the game (and make laws that rig it in favor of Republicans).
They blame the change agents among progressives on the left for all the woes of Americans, when the biggest woe of all right now is the new surge in the Covid virus variant, a variant that exists in large part because the idea of vaccines was politicized by the right as just another overreaching control act by liberals.
It kept people from getting the shots. Republican leaders are willing to risk the lives of citizens to score political points. They don’t want the other side to win anything.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill goes a long way toward playing catchup with the nation’s needs, but compared to countries like Germany, France, and other European nations, and China, South Korea and Japan, we still lack the trains, local transit, and government backing for interstate travel and commerce.
The main reason for this is an ingrained conservative pushback against big government. For all the success of the bill, it is too little, too late because one side does not want the other to get credit for something good.
DeSantis got lost in the clouds of his own ambitions. He thought he would be the strongman, hero of American individualism by banning shots and banning masks and generally discrediting anything that might make Democrats look successful.
Now he says that as governor of Florida he enjoys the absolute powers that the most zealous plutocrats admire. He echoes the models of others who have become bedazzled by the office they hold and is hearing the praise for his “strong leadership” while turning deaf ears and blind eyes on the reality.
Republicans like Ron DeSantis believe people want a dictator, but they just don’t want to call it that.
DeSantis put out one of those “Dear Fellow Patriot” letters recently, paid for by the donations of backers, to warn the faithful that the New Left is a danger to their personal liberty. Cue up “Hail to the Chief.”
Early in that letter to the donors, though, DeSantis is portrayed as defending people’s right to speak their mind, practice their faith, defend home and family, own and operate a business, and to educate their own children.
His way of supporting small government was to bully mayors and school leaders. His way to back your right to own and operate a business is to sign a ban on requiring employees or customers to wear masks indoors. He even told the cruise industry they can just float away if they want to require masks to fight the COVID virus.
King DeSantis know best, and don’t cross him. The new Republican creed?
Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.