One of the challenges for Gov. Ron DeSantis is the same one individual restaurateurs face: How to maintain standards when the boss is away.
We have all seen it: When the restaurant owners are in the house, the wait staff is on its game, the food prep is tip top. But when the owner is on an extended vacation or losing interest, service declines.
That’s the challenge for DeSantis as he hopscotches around the country promoting his book, “The Courage to Be Free,” and trying to gain national exposure to determine whether it makes sense to run for the presidency.
What will happen to Florida, and state government? Will he lose focus on ensuring state government — and he — will live up to the expectations of the record number of Floridians who voted for him last fall? Floridians will be watching.
Meantime, each day we continue to hear political observers read the tea leaves that DeSantis is running for president. We hope he doesn’t. We’re still in the camp that DeSantis long-term would be better off to prove to the nation that his first term in office wasn’t a one-term wonder and that he could, in fact, keep Florida the freest of states and best state in the nation in which to live — and do it for eight consecutive years.
That would be an accomplishment.
But now that we’ve completed the governor’s book, more than before, we’re convinced he has what overcomes so many politicians. Especially after his successes and notoriety from 2020-2022, he has that confidence and that belief in himself, that feeling that swells so many politicians’ heads.
After digesting it, “Courage to Be Free” can be seen as a surface-level, quick-read narrative to address what DeSantis wants voters nationwide to know about him — from where he came; his core principles; what he learned in Washington (The Swamp is a terrible place.); what he believes a leader should do; and how he took on the establishment and woke progressives.
If you’re an above-average consumer of politics, read the book; it’s enlightening at least to know DeSantis’ roots. What’s the saying: If you want to know the man, know the boy.
A few points in the book that struck us:
Because we’re part of it, we paid special interest to this topic. No surprise, he can’t stand the media, especially the national “corporate media.” He focuses solely on them, giving the reader the impression that all media are the same.
He rightly criticizes the national media for their blatant, intentionally tilted narratives. Be sure to read the story on how 60 Minutes tried to destroy DeSantis.
Of course, we would argue not all media are the same. We consider the Observer nothing like the DC hacks. It would have been beneficial for DeSantis to point out any news organization or reporter that meets his standards of integrity. Or offer a prescription of how the media should behave.
Given his dislike for the media, you get the sense that no matter what, DeSantis will consider the Fourth Estate his mortal enemy. But he will do so at his peril.
We all know free speech is essential to the republic, and that outside of the DC swamp, local media often serve as a glue that keeps a community together and helps it thrive and improve.
If DeSantis’ political career continues, there will be days and times when he will need the media. Rather than derisively dismiss all of them, he would be wise to figure out a détente and a working relationship — particularly with the news organizations that operate at the local levels and that are in touch with the people in their communities.
The irony is rich
DeSantis writes candidly about the disgustingly rigged caste system in the DC Swamp, specifically how the U.S. House of Representatives works:
“…(A)ll the power is concentrated in the leadership — and mostly in the speaker. While a single member can, in theory, shape the process either on a committee or by offering amendments on the House floor, in practice, the entire process — committee hearings, legislative markups, floor votes — is choreographed by the leadership … (V)ery little occurs outside the preordained contours of what leadership decrees.”
We can imagine everyone in Tallahassee laughing — lawmakers, lobbyists and legislative staffers — because that’s exactly the way it works there, too. If you want to move up in the Legislature to a committee chairmanship or be part of the inner-circle leadership team, you need to kiss the rings (and other things) of the governor, Senate President and House Speaker. Don’t dare speak out against their agendas.
Ask former Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. An independent thinker and the smartest lawmaker in Tallahassee on property insurance, Brandes clashed with leadership on numerous issues. During last year’s insurance crisis, he found himself out in the pasture, not consulted on DeSantis’ special session strategy on how best to fix Florida’s crisis. He’s one example.
In his first term, DeSantis admits in his book that, as governor, rightly so, he wielded as much power as the law allows. He writes: “I understood the authority I possessed under the laws and constitution of Florida, understood the various pressure points in the system and understood how to leverage my authority to advance our agenda through that system.”
What motivates him
DeSantis makes it abundantly clear that he will not let radical progressives take over the country and destroy our nation’s founding values and virtues. And he truly comes across as sincere about his love for this country.
“Casey and I both see the battles we fight to be essential for the protection of freedom and opportunity for our kids and beyond. We want to leave our communities, our state and our nation in better shape for future generations, and to God, than we found it.”
In the final paragraphs of the last two chapters, DeSantis writes:
“Florida has shown we have the capacity to win against (the) elites. It takes determination. It requires strategic judgment. It calls for strength in the face of attacks. Most of all, it requires courage.
“The Florida Blueprint is a simple formula: Be willing to lead, have the courage of your convictions, deliver for your constituents and reap the political rewards. This is a blueprint for America’s revival …”
It’s his blueprint to get to the White House.