When the Founding Fathers gathered at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, they did so for two reasons. First, they had to get rid of the anemic Articles of Confederation, which were ruining the country with such dispatch that it was that obvious, very early, that they needed to go. Thus, the Founders needed a stronger federal government, one with a Constitution. And yet, despite the fact that they were to create a stronger federal government, the goal again was to create a structure that focused far more on what the federal government couldn’t do than what it could.
The states would do most of the governing. They were to become “little laboratories of democracy” and good ideas might work their way up to the federal government. For the last two decades – at least – the states have served more as a flashing red light, bathing DC in red, an alarm meant to warn that democracy was disappearing.
Who remembers Kansas Gov. Brownback? He was going to show the country how stripping taxes and regulations would bring business to the state and help it thrive. Instead, it literally broke the education system, social services, and almost broke the state government, all due to falling – not rising – revenues and “freedoms.”
Now we have Florida man, Ron DeSantis, so determined to be the next Donald Trump that he’s willing to throw his state straight into the sea and upset the liberals, just to prove he can be the strong leader who got it done. Ron DeSantis is not interested in being a laboratory of democracy. He wants to show the MAGAs throughout the country the benefits of being an autocracy. An autocrat gets to tell those panty-waisted liberals to get bent and then control the legislature and state supreme court to get away with it. Interesting, a lot like Russia.
Ron Filipowski is now a Twitter legend, spending days on end documenting this country’s slide into autocracy and his state of Florida is lapping the others. Indeed, Flipowski, a former member of the Judicial Nominating Commission (a more important job than it sounds), says that Florida, right now, is an autocratic state:
FL no longer has a functioning, separation of powers, checks and balances, Republic. The elected representatives of the party in power are so intimidated by the bully in the Governor’s mansion that we are now essentially an autocracy.
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 11, 2022
Is there a counterargument? The United States was built upon the idea that private freedoms will be respected unless extremely compelling reasons require regulation. Florida businesses were previously free to say “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” During COVID, DeSantis went to his pet legislature and demanded that they change the law prohibiting private businesses from requiring vaccinations. Republicans always believed that local government was the most effective government, (Unless they had power), local government entities such as school districts and municipalities started doing things of which DeSantis disapproved. He quickly wrote up the legislation needed to get his way and it passed his pet state legislature with ease.
Filipkowski has diagnosed the underlying cause, one that will sound familiar to anyone that pays attention to what happens in Right-Wing media. From an Op-Ed in the Bulwark:
Because the biggest problem is that in today’s Republican party, the tail is often wagging the dog, with GOP elites increasingly getting their talking points and ideas from media influencers on podcasts, social media sites, and television. These influencers, with their millions of thoroughly indoctrinated followers, push elected Republicans into saying what they want to hear, rather than the other way around. We have watched this happen repeatedly, where positions are created in the alternative-media universe only to be adopted later by elected officials in Congress or at the local level.
It is about money. But it has always been about money. The difference this time is that it used to be about corporate money and then begging voters. Now it’s about $50-$100 checks sent in from tens of millions of conservatives around the country who are happy to pay to “own the libs,” but they better damned well get their money’s worth in owning those libs.
Unfortunately for democracy, the “libs” happen to be a majority in the country (don’t ever let a MAGA tell you this is a moderate/conservative country, it is their favorite talking point and it’s dead wrong). There is only one way to strongly impose one’s will over the majority, and Flilipkowsi names it in his thesis. One turns to autocracy. Florida is first and most extreme, despite the fact that it’s actually a purple state). But don’t worry. The other red states will not be far behind.
When these laboratories produce a great new product, others will jump on the idea. Indeed, given the chance in 2024, one can count upon the federal government following Florida’s leadership. You thought 2016-2020 was bad?
You don’t know Florida. Ron does.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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