Ron DeSantis vs. the Progressive Elite

Posts so far regarding The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, by Ron DeSantis:

One topic that cuts through the book is how progressive elites have found new ways to dominate American politics and therefore, as the government has been greatly expanded, American society.

Ron explains how Facebook can now run U.S. elections:

In 2020, Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg poured $400 million into nonprofit groups to funnel directly to election offices in key states. This included more than $350 million dispersed by Zuckerberg’s Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to provide so-called “COVID-19 response” election administration to local election offices, with the money going disproportionately to left-leaning counties to boost Democratic turnout in the election. Rather than fund groups seeking to influence the behavior of voters through persuasion, Zuckerberg used his $400 million to manage the election itself. In 2020 injecting private money into election administration was not against the law, largely because it was not something that state legislatures had contemplated. This meant that Zuckerberg-backed groups could direct the grant money it distributed to election offices. Groups like CTCL used this leverage to staff local election offices with partisan activists, requiring the offices to work with partisan “partner organizations” to expand mass mail balloting and to permit ballot harvesting. This represented an unprecedented transformation of election administration into an organ of partisan electioneering. Following the 2020 election, I responded to these questionable practices by ushering through the Florida Legislature a sweeping package of reforms to fortify election integrity. First, we enacted a prohibition on ballot harvesting and made it a third-degree felony. Second, we required voter ID for absentee ballot requests, equalizing the voter ID requirement for absentee votes with the long-required ID requirement for in-person voting. Third, we ensured that county supervisors of elections clean their voter rolls on an annual basis by instituting penalties for noncompliance. Fourth, we instituted an outright ban on Zuckerbucks to stop the use of private money in election administration.

The above is, of course, in addition to Facebook’s power to nag young progressives to get off the sofa and cast an in-person or mail-in ballot.

Facebook and friends had better keep working to keep Ron DeSantis out of Washington, D.C.!

As the years wore on, especially following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, large Silicon Valley companies began to evolve from being open platforms to serving as censors. Part of this was in response to pressure from the tech industry’s fellow travelers on the political left to crack down on what they considered to be “misinformation,” which was frequently just speech they didn’t like. Tech companies also received pressure from legacy media outlets, which had lost influence because of Big Tech’s rise.

This is all well and good, but when these tech platforms start to aggressively censor speech, it calls into question the basis for the federal liability protection. Indeed, the practices of Big Tech reveal the companies to represent the censorship arm of the political left, and their mission seems to be the enforcement of leftist orthodoxy and the marginalization of those who dissent from it. As companies like Facebook and Twitter make censorship decisions that always seem to err on the side of silencing those who dissent from leftist orthodoxy, they distort the American political system because so much political speech now takes place on these supposedly open platforms. From censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 presidential election to suppressing search results from conservative media sources, Big Tech has consistently placed a firm thumb on the scale for the political left.

Even apart from the risk of collusion with the government, Big Tech platforms have become the new public square, so viewing these quasi monopolies as just run-of-the-mill private companies is a mistake. While a properly functioning free market should allow for competitors to emerge to challenge the incumbent companies, Big Tech has used its massive market power to crush upstart firms. As a result, it’s wishful thinking to hope that the market will solve the problem of Big Tech censorship. With this in mind, I worked with the Florida Legislature to enact a series of reforms to protect Floridians from Big Tech censorship. We did this knowing these represented novel legal issues that would eventually be decided by the US Supreme Court. Our goal was to provide a legal framework that guaranteed more, not less, political speech. In doing so, we recognized that these massive tech companies are different from a typical corporation and are more akin to a common carrier like a telephone company. Our reforms included protections for political candidates against being deplatformed, which is a way for Big Tech to interfere in elections. What is stopping Big Tech companies from shutting off Republican candidates from social media platforms during the stretch run of an election? If someone hosts a get-together for a candidate and provides refreshments, that must be accounted for as a campaign contribution, yet a tech company can upend an entire candidate’s campaign, and that is somehow not considered interference with an election.

For those who are curious about the backstory regarding Disney and its fight with the people of Florida:

As the controversy over the Parental Rights in Education bill [“Don’t Say Gay” according to the New York Times] was coming to a head, [Disney CEO] Chapek called me. He did not want Disney to get involved, but he was getting a lot of pressure to weigh in against the bill. “We get pressured all the time,” he told me. “But this time is different. I haven’t seen anything like this before.” “Do not get involved with this legislation,” I advised him. “You will end up putting yourself in an untenable position. People like me will say, ‘Gee, how come Disney has never said anything about China, where they make a fortune?’ “Here is what will happen,” I continued. “The bill will pass, and there will be forty-eight hours of outrage directed at Disney for staying neutral. Then the Legislature will send me the bill a few weeks later, and when I sign it, you will get another forty-eight hours of outrage, mostly online. Then there will be some new outrage that the woke mob will focus on, and people will forget about this issue, especially considering the outrage is directed at a political-media narrative, not the actual text of the legislation itself.”

In promising to work to repeal the bill, supposedly family-friendly Disney was moving beyond mere virtue signaling to liberal activists. Instead, the company was pledging a frontal assault on a duly enacted law of the State of Florida. Things got worse for Disney. Almost immediately after the company issued its declaration of war, remarkable footage leaked from a video conference in which Disney executives promised to inject sexuality into programming for young kids. One speaker said that Disney would keep a “tracker” to monitor that the company was including a sufficient number of “canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters, [and] canonical bisexual characters” in its programming. In bowing to the woke agenda, Disney had already, one speaker proudly pointed out, eliminated the use of “ladies,” “gentlemen,” “boys,” and “girls” from its theme parks.

Even though Democrats often rail about the nefarious power exerted over politics by large corporations, and supposedly oppose special carve-outs for big companies, they all dutifully lined up in support of keeping Disney’s special self-governing status. This confirmed how much the modern left has jettisoned principle in favor of power—so long as those corporations use their power to advance the left’s agenda, the left is perfectly willing to do the bidding of large corporations.

Ron D makes the point that Republicanism is essentially obsolete now that the biggest corporations have been enlisted in the Army of the Woke.

ESG provides a pretext for CEOs to use shareholder assets to target issues like reducing the use of fossil fuels and restricting Second Amendment rights. It is, in effect, a way for the political left to achieve through corporate power what they cannot achieve at the ballot box.

The battle lines almost invariably find large, publicly traded corporations lining up behind leftist causes. [Budweiser?]

For decades, a huge swath of GOP elected officials have campaigned on free market principles, but governed as corporatists—supporting subsidies, tax breaks, and legislative carve-outs to confer special benefits on entrenched corporate interests. Just because policies may benefit corporate America does not mean that such policies serve the interests of the American economy writ large. What is in the national interest is not necessarily the same as the interests of large corporations. And when large corporations are seeking to use their economic power to advance the left’s political agenda, they have become political, and not merely economic, actors. In an environment in which large corporations are aggressive political actors, reflexively deferring to big business effectively surrenders the political battlefield to the militant left.

Ron did manage to prevail in the 2022 election even in the very lair of rich corporate progressives:

While there had been chatter leading up to the election that Miami-Dade was in play, few were talking about the possibility that we could win the traditional Democrat bastion of Palm Beach County. Yet, we ended up being the first Republican to win Palm Beach in a governor’s race in nearly forty years.

12 thoughts on “Ron DeSantis vs. the Progressive Elite

  1. Pudding Fingers’ take makes it sound overly sinister, and he’s missing the key point.

    The corporations are just collections of people. For example, if you look at political donations by Google employees, it’s something like 95+% for democrats. I suspect Facebook is something similar.

    If you get a group that’s 95% liberal, there’s not much debate in the org, and it’s easy to see how it moves left. I’m sure there are plenty of people there who don’t know a single conservative friend.

    Maybe they should ask themselves — among highly educated people, especially those who live in cities — why are their arguments so ineffective?

    Claiming “the corporations are blocking us” seems to be missing the history. I remember when the educated white-collar types were largely Republicans. Remember all those Reagan republicans? They’re moderate democrats or Never Trumpers now. They’d be chased out of today’s republican party as cucks or rinos.

    As the political parties continue to separate themselves — highly educated + white collar + cities + suburbs on the left vs rural blue-collar types on the right, the trend will likely continue because the people who run things are the highly educated/white collar/city types of people.

    The Pillow Guy (former crack addict) is an exception.

    I suspect this trend will reverse when Trump is gone and we get more Youngkin-style Republicans.

    • My experience is restricted to the software industry. Up to around 2010, most were libertarian right or left. A minority were socialists, but real ones, not the fake kind we see now.

      Then something happened, and it was very much top down. The same white males who sympathized with ESR and Ayn Rand suddenly became woke in order to keep their functionary positions (which they never yielded to Black people).

      What exactly happened? One theory is that the Occupy Wall Street crackdown under “left” president Obama used divide and conquer strategies so the corporate power wasn’t disrupted.

      And it worked. Mediocre people realized that they could rise in the corporations by affirming the new religions. The speech control imposed by the religions made it harder to question other business decisions. CEOs liked the culture of fear that made it easy for them to reign while appearing to be on the good side.

      So unlike you, I don’t think the phenomena we see are organic. There is no real “left” now, it is a thin veneer over old fashioned greed and the desire to get public funding.

    • Anon, great analysis. As far as I can see it from the outside, same thing as in corporations happened in the US Army: unholy marriage between “woke” ideology and militarism, and it thrives without any serious problems. Proles which get killed and do killings can think what they want (similar as proles in 1984), but upper levels are strictly orthodox woke.

  2. All this is good and well, but DeSantis is not electable (to be President), Not sure why he’s making all those noises in this regard.

    There are two obvious reasons that he is not electable in no particular order: Trump and and the Florida latest abortion law. There some others but these two are fatal for his chances to become President.

    Abortion issues mean that no republican has a chance in 2024, be it Youngkin or Trump or whoever.

    • Ivan: That’s exactly what my retired hedge fund manager said. He personally favors Republicans due to his belief that Democrats will rob the U.S. of decades of economic growth via paying people to withdraw from the workforce, discourage people from working hard via taxation, etc. In his opinion, however, Democrats are so fond of abortion care that nearly 100% will turn out to vote, thus making it impossible for Republicans (whose base is less motivated to stop the slow drip of economic sclerosis) to win anything significant.

    • I think people here are overstating the effect of abortion. It’s a big deal, but not the only deal.

      If you look at the 2022 mid-terms, two key things were at play — Democrats were motivated by abortion rights, and Trump-aligned candidates did very badly.


      Are MAGA republicans more anti-abortion than traditional republicans?

      Moderate voters are scared of the election denialism and general oddness of candidates who show great loyalty to Trump.

      If you had asked me last month, I would say DeSantis was being pretty savvy by keeping Florida abortion law at 15 weeks and not focusing on it.

      But he felt compelled to push to 6 weeks, and that will create headaches for him in a general election, if he gets that far.

      * I also find it likely that Trump to lead the republican party to going easier on abortion. He can claim 15 weeks is enough and lose virtually no right-wing voters. There is no higher calling for many republicans than supporting Trump.

    • (I have been writing on this blog for months that I don’t think DeSantis can appeal to Americans beyond Florida. He doesn’t sound like a regular politician buttering up voters, making absurd promises that everyone knows can’t possibly be kept, etc. Although I was very impressed with Tom Cotton when I met him in person (see ), I continue to believe that Nikki Haley is the only Republican who would have a chance in a general election. (This might be unfair to Senator Cotton. I haven’t followed his speeches.))

    • By the way, for people who doubt a Republican can win, look at Youngkin’s election.

      In 2020, Biden beat Trump by 10 points in Virginia, but then Youngkin won 2 years later.

      Those swing voters voted for Joe in 2020 because they hated Trump, and once Trump was out of the picture, they shifted to voting Republican because Youngkin was a moderate choice.

      And that 10-point swing didn’t just happen in Virginia. I seem to remember that NJ also moved by 10 points (even though that wasn’t enough to give the R the win).

      In GA, Kemp beat Stacy Abrams by 6 points while the Dem won the Senate seat.

      So there’s large appetite for post-Trump moderate republicans, enough to win.

      There are many Republicans that can defeat Biden in 2024. But it’s unclear if any of those can win a primary without being forced into taking positions which are general-election poison.

      Tom Cotton dropped out not because he couldn’t beat Biden, but because he couldn’t beat Trump.

    • Anon: My primary political passion is making the U.S. a fairer place for the working class, which translates to economic conservatism and expanding the shrinking portion of the U.S. economy that follows market principles. So the “tough on crime” Republican angle does not appeal to me, especially the death penalty following a criminal justice system that is error-prone. On the third hand, there is no political party in the U.S. that comes close to my personal politics (dramatic reductions in government intervention in the economy, a basic universal health care system (HMO membership) instead of Medicaid/Medicare-for-some, voting restricted to Americans who have worked for at least 8 years, etc.).

    • philg: I suspected that would be your view! Hopefully more people will adopt this more nuanced version of conservatism.

    • Anon: I think I’ve said it here before, but it upset me when Ron DeSantis went after the handful of convicted murderers who mistakenly voted as a way to fight “election fraud”. It should be election officials who figure out what a person who shows up at the polls is entitled to do, not the previously convicted felon, the undocumented migrant, et al. And I was also upset when he talked about the potential for looters to be shot by homeowners after Hurricane Ian. This is one reason that I’m a Nikki Haley fan. She might appoint some “law and order” judges, but I don’t think she’d sound vindictive regarding criminals. I don’t think criminal behavior can be excused by citing the environment, but I also recognize that most criminal behavior in the U.S. is enabled by the environment that we’ve created, e.g., the welfare system that enables whole neighborhoods to refrain from working W-2 jobs for decades, the public schools that are operated for the benefit of unionized employees rather than for student benefit, the widespread availability of alcohol (results in a lot of violence), the open borders that make it impossible for low-skill native-born Americans to get ahead, etc.

      (on that last point, see “For white men, a 10 percent rise in immigration appeared to cause a 0.1 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate for white men. But for black men, it meant a nearly 1 percentage-point rise.”)

Comments are closed.