DeSantis has guided the Sunshine State through the pandemic with strong, principled leadership. He didn’t write a book, take a vacation or get his hair done at an otherwise mandated closed salon. He lead with every Floridian’s constitutional rights in mind.
In contrast, left-leaning Democrat governors in other states were in fact “authoritarian” by arbitrary, over-the-top, unscientific actions that included arrests in playgrounds, at sports contests, even paddle-boarding alone in the ocean, favoring casinos over worship services and even taking down license numbers in church parking lots. They even were barring people from visiting their own families or vacation homes.
New Jersey imposed more than a million dollars in fines for a single business that remained open with extreme precautions. Michigan closed gardening sections in stores, keeping people inside where they were much more likely to get sick. Other states threatened to revoke business licenses for periods ranging from weeks to years — and then allowed businesses to open under the most extreme restrictions, such as 25% capacity, that made profitable operations impossible. Most other states continued the imposition of mask mandates outside for all activities even after the CDC lifted such restrictions.
It is these “leaders,” not DeSantis, that are the real tyrants.
Unlike the governors of such states, DeSantis has governed in a way that represents the 180-degree opposite of dictatorship. After initial lockdowns to “flatten the curve,” he was governing by his oath of office to protect individual liberties and trusting people to make their decisions about going about their lives and businesses — or staying “safe at home” — based on the science, not personal power trips.
The governor has respected and protected the rights and prerogatives of Floridians to earn a living, send a child to school, or simply enjoy a stroll down Las Olas Boulevard. No wonder people from all walks of life from all over the country are flocking here for a taste of real life.
But the fruits of freedom are far more than a breath of fresh Florida air. Amazon and Apple will more than survive a shutdown — they’ll survive when people are forced indoors. But thousands of small businesses — restaurants, retail shops and beauty parlors, including many minority enterprises — were surely saved because they had no better friend than our governor.
Young people cooped up and despairing at home, especially disadvantaged, at-risk children who were hurt worst by the shutdowns, had their futures preserved because our governor stood on science, not scare tactics.
Especially laughable is the specific charge that DeSantis has used executive orders in ways that suggest an authoritarian approach. Where other governors and the president have been employing diktats to restrict freedom, DeSantis has used his powers to restore freedoms — even going so far as to pardon Floridians who have been the victims of overbroad, oppressive local COVID orders and regulations that should have been mere guidelines.
Far from being a dictator, DeSantis has been a defender of Floridians’ personal liberties. The governor remembered his oath to uphold the law and our state and federal constitutions — and the people they were established to protect.
Despite the best efforts of Democrats and the media to defame and destroy his reputation, Floridians will remember DeSantis in November 2022.
Ed Pozzuoli is CEO of Tripp Scott Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale.