Ron DeSantis Calls Democrat Party "A Dead, Rotten Carcass"

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that the Democrat party in his state "is basically a dead, rotten carcass on the side of the road," in large part for following a woke agenda that has been rejected by voters.

"We've shown a knack for identifying the left when they're totally off their rocker, isolating those examples and really protecting Floridians from the left's worst pathologies. People don't have to be Republicans to appreciate that," DeSantis said.

The governor made the remarks while a guest on Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer's latest podcast. DeSantis is currently promoting his new book, The Courage to be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival, which many observers view as a precursor for a run for the Republican nomination against former President Donald Trump and others. DeSantis has not yet said he will run.

Trump has mocked DeSantis—shown in opinion polls to be his greatest rival for the 2024 nomination—as Ron "DeSanctimonious", while the Florida governor's critics on the left have accused him of everything from being anti-LGBTQ to racism to being a would-be fascist.

DeSantis recalled that when he first won the governorship four years ago, his margin of victory was 32,000 while in November it was 1.5 million, despite the fact he dismissed much of the advice he was given during his first term. Other Florida Republicans also fared well in the mid-term elections, generally doing better than the GOP did in many other parts of the U.S.

Due to his narrow victory in 2019, he was told: "It's not gonna be possible to necessarily make a lot of waves and be successful, and I rejected that advice," he told Hammer.

He said he took the opposite approach, which was to "be on offense ... That really ends up being a good defense, too, because a lot of Republicans are more likely to sit back; media attacks them; media defines the terms of the debate."

"We do not shirk from issues," he said. "We leaned in across the board, whether it's education — yes, fighting the wokeness — illegal immigration, all those different things."

Shipping Immigrants

He cited the negative press he received for shipping Venezuelans who entered Florida without proper documentation to Martha's Vineyard, which fashioned itself a "sanctuary" destination.

While some media had predicted the gambit would sink his governorship, DeSantis said Venezuelans who had entered the United States legally were thanking him for taking action.

"It's a no-brainer politically for Republicans because, I think, pretty much working class people of all different ethnicities agree with this," he said.

He said Republicans' need for Hispanic votes has wrongly convinced them to avoid enforcing immigration laws. "I rejected that, so my first year as governor we banned sanctuary cities ... this should have been done like 10 years ago," he said, adding his assertion that Hispanics supported his approach more so than any other demographic.

Critical Race Theory — which holds that racism is systemic in the U.S. and that skin color ought to be a major consideration — should not be taught to school children and nor should issues related to switching genders, he said, despite what the media might say.

"I don't think it's ever appropriate for a teacher to tell any student that you were born in the wrong body, or that you should change your gender. These are ways to empower the parents," he said.

The governor drew a distinction between private speech and school curriculums, accusing teachers' unions of pushing partisan political agendas. He said new laws mandating that school books be age-appropriate has led to false reporting amounting to a "book-ban hoax."

"What we said is that parents have a right to know what is being taught in schools ... and what books are in the libraries," he said. "Now, they have a right to raise that with the school district and those books can be removed from these younger grades, in particular."

"Our view is that education should be done in the classical sense," he continued. "It is non-partisan; it is not value neutral ... we want people to learn about the facts of the Holocaust and if you teach Holocaust denial you will be fired."

He added: "You don't have a First Amendment right to highjack a taxpayer funded government institution and impose your private agenda on the rest of the people."

Working in conjunction with school board members who agree with his policies is critical, he said. "Because at the end of the day... if the state government has to play whack-a-mole on every single thing at the schools, eventually you're just not going to be able to keep up."

"Model for the country"

"I think we've been able to do more in these last four years than anyone thought possible," the presumptive presidential candidate said. "Going forward, in the next few years, with all the (school board) members we've elected and will elect in '24, I think were' going to be the model for the country."

"If you, as a private citizen," he said, "want to go out and do critical race theory, that is 100 percent First Amendment speech; government can't abridge that, knock yourself out. It's not my cup of tea and I don't think most people find it persuasive, but of course you can go do that."

Regulations regarding COVID restrictions represent another example of where he bucked the media by opening schools and businesses when most other states kept them closed in line with guidance from former top health official Anthony Fauci.

"What we were doing was so different from what the established narrative said we were supposed to do, that I was like the guy who was fighting for these people ... Fighting Fauci ... fighting the corporate press ... fighting the local governments."

He said his policies have led to Florida being a top state for growth in the union.

"We do now, in Florida, have a little bit of a mojo; this idea of, 'don't tread on Florida.' The idea that we're the free state of Florida. ... People have viewed Florida as a refuge."

He also noted that the Republican party traditionally believes that "government clearly is a threat to your freedoms," but added that corporations are exercising "quasi public powers," in part when social media firms clamp down on speech deemed politically incorrect.

"They can marginalize you based on a conservative viewpoint," he said. "You should be able to live your life the way you want to in Florida, without having the left's agenda crammed down your throat."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a campaign speech at the SCC Community Hall on November 6, 2022 in Sun City Center, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images