A review of Gov. Ron DeSantis' policies shows a strong emphasis on personal choice, law and order, and a push to keep identity politics out of schools. DeSantis has been outspoken and bold concerning medical freedom, alternative treatments for COVID, vaccine choice, CRT in schools, Biden's border policies, an aversion to mandates, and more. The 2022 legislative season has ushered in a continuation of "freedom-loving" policies and legislation.
During his Jan. 11 State of the State address, DeSantis made abundantly clear his intentions to make Florida "the freest state in these United States." His opening remarks showed his dedication to freedom-loving principles:
"While so many around the country have consigned the people's rights to the graveyard, Florida has stood as freedom's vanguard. In Florida, we have protected the right of our citizens to earn a living, provided our businesses with the ability to prosper, fought back against unconstitutional federal mandates, and ensured our kids have the opportunity to thrive.
Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary, and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions. Even today, across the nation, we see students denied an education due to reckless, politically-motivated school closures, workers denied employment due to heavy-handed mandates, and Americans denied freedoms due to a coercive biomedical apparatus.
These unprecedented policies have been as ineffective as they have been destructive. They are grounded more in blind adherence to Faucian declarations than they are in the constitutional traditions that are the foundation of free nations. Florida is a free state. We reject the biomedical security state that curtails liberty, ruins livelihoods, and divides society. And we will protect the rights of individuals to live their lives free from the yoke of restrictions and mandates.
Florida has stood strong as the rock of freedom. And upon this rock, we must build Florida's future."
Surgeon General Ladapo/Image Courtesy of the Executive Office of the Governor
With Surgeon General Dr. Joe Ladapo at his side, he has spoken against prevailing CDC pandemic-related narratives regarding natural immunity, masking, and vaccines. In February, he and Ladapo released a "Buck the CDC" video and accompanying handout. Ladapo issued his own version of COVID-19 guidance for Florida on Feb. 24.
DeSantis and Ladapo/Buck the CDC
DeSantis has been busy with signing legislation as well. He signed nine bills on Feb. 24. On Mar. 7, DeSantis signed into law HB1557, a bill that passed both chambers of the Florida legislature along party lines. Called The Parental Rights in Education Bill, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by LGBTQ activists who call it a "fear-mongering" bill, the legislation seeks to ensure that parents understand what is going on in schools concerning their children's education. Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued an apology to employees for the company's silence on the Bill, reiterating his support for the LGBTQ community.
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On Mar. 3, DeSantis "called on the Florida Legislature to protect health care practitioners' freedom of speech and bolster patient access to and education of COVID-19 treatments through right to prescribe. The Free Speech of Health Care Practitioners Act, House Bill 687 and Senate Bill 1184, would solidify these rights for both patients and health care workers." The Bill died in Senate Appropriations on Mar. 14.
On Mar. 7, DeSantis officially "close[d] the curtain on COVID theatre" by holding a meeting with "world-renowned physicians and epidemiologists to discuss the failures of lockdowns and mandates in response to COVID-19." The press release states that the pandemic was poorly handled and served to "stoke fear" in service of "stop[ping] the spread." An excerpt from DeSantis and Ladapo can be found below:
"Lockdown politicians and the medical establishment have continually ignored data, instead choosing to stoke fear and push for lockdowns and mask mandates in their fruitless attempts to 'stop the spread.'"
"Over the past two years, the data has shown us what works and what doesn't work. It is long past time to stop the COVID Theater," said Governor Ron DeSantis. "In Florida, we told the truth, we let the data drive our response, and we let Floridians make decisions for themselves and their children. As a result, Florida is in a better spot than states who used fear-mongering and mandates."
"Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has continued to stay ahead of the federal government by following sound science—not coercion," said Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. "Today, we were able to bring doctors from around the world to discuss COVID-19 and the lack of data to support mandates. Scientific debate takes place in a public forum—it is not hidden in federal bureaucracy. We need to get back to living —not hiding in fear."
Dr. Joseph Fraiman, an Emergency Medicine physician, based in Louisiana, issued a remarkable apology during the Mar. 7 round-table, starting at time-stamp 1:08:52. He admitted he was wrong to advocate "aggressive COVID policies" like lock-downs early on. Fraiman stated that it took him "about a year into the pandemic before it became really clear that it wasn't obvious at all that there was any policy that was strongly effective at reducing COVID. The scientist in me had to take this emerging data that I was seeing and acknowledge my hypothesis had been falsified." He also apologized directly to his colleagues, an apology that is almost unheard of in a public forum for a medical professional:
"Also, personally, I would like to apologize to the three other scientists sitting with me here on zoom. The proponents of the Barrington Declaration, because initially, I did think you were crazy or dumb. Or maybe you just didn't understand what I was seeing? But I now realize, actually. I'm sorry because I believe now you guys were correct and, um, you were correct from the beginning. And I wish that more people, including myself, had realized that sooner and I hope more people realize that soon enough."
DeSantis conducted another round-table on public health on Mar. 18 with several doctors, including Dr. Jay Battacharya, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Dr. Scott Atlas, and Dr. Sunetra Gupta. These doctors have all come around to the idea that pandemic lockdown policies and mandates were detrimental to public health.
Biden's "resumption of high diplomatic contact with the brutal Maduro regime in Caracas" is also in DeSantis' crosshairs. He lambasted the Biden administration for its "unconscionable attempts to legitimize the brutal Maduro regime in Venezuela" as it looks to find oil from other countries instead of "increase[ing] domestic energy production here at home."
According to WKMG ClickOrlando, DeSantis looks to accomplish ten major things during the 2022 legislative session that began on Jan. 11. His $99.7 billion Freedom First budget targets, among other initiatives, election integrity, the re-establishment of the Florida State Guard, gas tax cuts, pay increases for police, crackdowns on immigration, teacher bonuses, and education reforms, including today's elimination of Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) in all Florida public schools.
This budget is the fourth for his administration, and his Dec. 9, 2021 budget proposal letter states his commitment to "Florida's resiliency and strength" and continues DeSantis' "commitment to fight for Florida's families, freedoms, and future." The governor also states his current budget "invests record funding for our children's education and our environmental resources while maintaining historic reserves for the future."