Friday, March 10, 2023

Unfit for Public Office

There seem to be more than a few candidates for public office that meet the qualifications for the label: unfit for public office. Unfortunately, there are those in the current congress who likewise meet the qualifications.

Let me focus on two candidates for the presidency,: Trump and DeSantis. 

We know a lot about Trump and despite his bluster, and promises of doing great things, arguably he actually made some positive accomplishments during his term. That written, however,  I believe Tucker Carlson has the best assessment of the former President as published in a Washington Post article:

Carlson, who had shared private meetings with the president and defended him on-air, added in a text: “I hate him passionately. … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.” - The Washington Post

The aptitude for destroying things seems to be the position of the Republican Party. Look at the current Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The Republicans seemingly have no platform except to destroy the United States by forcing a default on the national debt. 

Turning to DeSantis. He meets the definition of forcing his narrow vision onto people while telling them he is making them free. It is a classic bait and switch. He is making Floridians free; free from choice. 

I quote from Letters from an American about how DeSantis is imposing his draconian view of society onto Floridians:

When Florida governor Ron DeSantis last March signed the law commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he justified it by its title: the “Parental Rights in Education” law. It restricted the ability of schoolteachers to mention sexual orientation or gender identity through grade 3, and opponents noted that its vagueness would lead teachers to self-censor.

Under the guise of protecting children, DeSantis echoed authoritarians like Hungary’s Victor Orb├ín and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who claim that democracy’s principle that all people are equal—including sexual minorities—proves that democracy is incompatible with traditional religious values. Promising to take away LGBTQ Americans’ rights offered a way to consolidate a following to undermine democracy.

DeSantis sought to shore up his position by mandating a whitewashed version of a mythic past. At his request, in March the Florida legislature approved a law banning public schools or private businesses from teaching people to feel guilty for historical events in which members of their race behaved poorly, the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (Stop WOKE) Act.

In July the Florida legislature passed a law mandating that the books in Florida’s public school cannot be pornographic and must be suited to “student needs”; a state media specialist would be responsible for approving classroom materials. An older law makes distributing obscene or pornographic materials to minors a felony that could lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Unsure what books are acceptable and worried about penalties, school officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, directed teachers to remove books from their classrooms or cover them until they can be reviewed. 

In January, DeSantis set out to remake the New College of Florida, a public institution known for its progressive values and inclusion of LGBTQ students, into an activist Christian school. He replaced six of the college’s thirteen trustees with far-right allies and forced out the college president in favor of a political ally, giving him a salary of $699,000, more than double what his predecessor made.

On February 28, right-wing activist Christopher Rufo, the man behind the furor over Critical Race Theory and one of DeSantis’s appointees to the New School board, tweeted: “We will be shutting down low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments and hiring new faculty. The student body will be recomposed over time: some current students will self-select out, others will graduate; we’ll recruit new students who are mission-aligned.” 

Then, this Tuesday, the board voted to abolish diversity, equity and inclusion programs at the school. DeSantis has promised to defund all DEI programs at public colleges and universities in Florida.  

The attempt to take over schools and reject the equality that lies at the foundation of liberal democracy is now moving toward the more general tenets of authoritarianism. This week, one Republican state senator proposed a bill that would require bloggers who write about DeSantis, his Cabinet officers, or members of the Florida legislature, to register with the state; another proposed outlawing the Democratic Party.

DeSantis and those like him are trying to falsify our history. They claim that the Founders established a nation based on traditional hierarchies, one in which traditional Christian rules were paramount. They insist that their increasingly draconian laws to privilege people like themselves are simply reestablishing our past values.

Be careful for whom you vote. There are wolves seeking to destroy democracy. The promise of "Making America Great Again" just may result in disaster.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

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