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Ron DeSantis Gets Real Fighting Wokeness

Florida governor fights insanity by making bold moves against academy, woke capitalism
Screen Shot 2023-01-06 at 10.56.47 PM

For a very long time, conservatives have watched wokeness march through state-owned, state-funded colleges and universities, while Republican lawmakers have sat back and done nothing. That has changed with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who just put Florida's premier New College on notice:

Gov. Ron DeSantis began the process Friday of completely transforming Sarasota's New College of Florida into a more conservative institution, appointing six new board members, including conservative activist Christopher Rufo, a dean at conservative Hillsdale College and a senior fellow at The Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank.

"It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida's classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the south," DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier told the conservative Daily Caller website.

The shakeup of the 11-member board is certain to create major tensions at New College, an institution that started as a progressive private school before becoming the state's liberal arts honors college. The small school's student body and faculty have a reputation for leaning left politically.

Turning New College into a Florida version of Hillsdale would amount to turning it upside down, a wholesale reinvention akin to a hostile takeover, and one that many current students and faculty are likely to resist.

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He also appointed Mark Bauerlein of First Things to the board. Awesome.

Old-school conservatives might balk at this bald-faced attempt by the governor to, you know, govern this state institution which has lost its way. That's because these conservatives do not understand how power works in the postliberal environment. The woke who have marched through the institutions and conquered them feel no compunction to be fair to those who, in good faith, disagree with them. They see these people and their teaching as evil. They hate classical liberalism, because it gives respect and liberty to ideas and people they regard as wicked. If the world was as it ought to be, then the governor of Florida would not have to intervene in this way. But by doing so, DeSantis recognizes his duty to the people of Florida to protect the institutions they pay for from ideological corruption. Here in Hungary, where I live, the Left screams bloody murder when Prime Minister Viktor Orban does things like this. But Orban understood a long time ago that the Left exercises dictatorial power through private and semi-private networks, like NGOs and academic institutions, and that the fundamental task of fighting for the common good against an ideological power clique demands making bold moves like DeSantis has done here.

A lot of Republican politicians will complain about wokeness. Ron DeSantis does something about it.

He's also going after woke capitalism:

A plan was announced Friday to introduce a bill into the Florida Legislature that would replace Walt Disney World's special self-governing power with a state-run board.

The notice was posted on the website of Osceola County, which houses part of Disney World along with Orange County. Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing the effort, according to sources in his office, and the intended legislation will mandate that members of the board will be appointed by the governor, according to sources in the governor's office.

"The corporate kingdom has come to an end," DeSantis' communications director, Taryn Fenske, told Fox News. "Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes."

"Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents," she added.

The planned legislation will also ensure that the company will pay upwards of $700 million dollars in unsecured debt accumulated by Disney’s special jurisdiction— known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District — and not Orange County taxpayers, according to the sources.

What conservatives in 2023 have to understand is that the only source of institutional power left to us is the state. Everything else is in the hands of people who more or less hate us. Ronald Reagan is dead. This is a new situation. Ron DeSantis knows what time it is. While the Republicans in Washington lose the plot in internecine squabbling, DeSantis is getting things done. More, please.

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Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
Now if only he didn't support the escalation of the Ukraine proxy war and other trillion dollar imperial military madness.

I guess partly sane is an improvement over the stark barking madness that's invaded so much of governance. But still that debacle will undercut every improvement that's only partial.
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Peter Pratt
Peter Pratt
Use power to further goals or just surrender. DeSantis isn't surrendering yet.
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Frans
Frans
Yes, wokeness needs to be fought-politically, as well as otherwise. There is, however, a limit to how far this sort of thing should go and how far the ideals of limited government should be left behind. I hope that as a state, a country, and a global community this line is walked reasonably well, but there’s a lot of potential for things to go too far. I admire DeSantis a lot, but he’s not perfect.
schedule 4 weeks ago
    Frans
    Frans
    Globally speaking the backlash against wokeness has perhaps become a more serious thing than wokeness itself. Look at Indonesia’s (the fourth most populous country in the world and a democracy by the way) new legal code for example, that criminalizes extra-marital sex. Now, I’m all for abstaining from sex till marriage, but criminalizing it is seriously too far. The Islamic world, Russia and its sphere of interest, and much of Africa have been going in an overboard anti-woke direction in large part because of what we’ve done in the west. Also look at India.

    We’ve kind of broken liberalism through our immorality and our celebration of immorality. The idea that homosexuality should be decriminalized, for example, was probably a good idea. The idea that it should be celebrated, promoted, taught in schools, or instituted as marriage was not. But not only was the latter a bad idea as opposed to the former being a good one, the former was also a potentially sustainable and universalizable idea, whereas the latter never was.

    If we had embraced a reasonable liberalism, liberal ideals may have spread throughout the world and it all would have been conducive to morality and freedom. By embracing a deranged and perverse liberalism, the world is increasingly rejecting it and both the embracing and the rejecting is potentially and actually facilitating a lot of immorality and authoritarianism.

    There never was any way all of this madness would last forever. While it’s crucial to be adequately focused on fighting it while it needs to be fought - and so few politicians have effectively done that, so those who do really stand out - we also have to focus on what the path forward out of the morass will look like. An idea as hairbrained as that men could be women was never going to catch on and last globally in the longterm - just look at the historical record on even remotely similar ideas. It was always guaranteed to be a passing phase - although obviously a lot of damage could be done in the meantime.

    I’m not at all trying to minimize the seriousness of what needs to be fought, or how refreshing it is to find leaders who are actually prepared to vigorously fight it. But we do need to look beyond the battle as well.
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      Zenos Alexandrovitch
      Zenos Alexandrovitch
      In the U.S. military adultery is illegal and it is still common for enlisted men to get jail time for 'extra-marital affairs.' Officers, however, generally do not have this enforced against them.

      Many states still do retain similar laws on the books in a state of not being enforced.
      schedule 4 weeks ago
Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
It's a bit strange to pick up a hint of defensiveness here, as if this minor action by DeSantis ought to be seen as revolutionary and "bold."

I'm going to mirror Fran Macadam's latest forays into nit-picking our esteemed host down a few pegs: No, Rod, there is nothing "bold" about this occurrence in Florida. This is Obama's "elections have consequences" philosophy, exercised on a small scale, I might add. I'm not saying it's timid, but it's only a beginning, it's just one institution of higher learning in a state that's filled with them, the vast majority of which are still bastions of wild and diverse liberalism, surely.

The nature of America as a battle-ground of ideas is probably not going to change. Sure, liberals have conquered most of the relevant institutions, even some churches, although I still have my doubts about the military, and yes, liberals are ensconced enough to afford comfortable explorations and interesting metamorphoses and internecine wars. Making their positions clear, offering their ideas, exercising hiring and firing power, this is what Democrat enforcers do all the time. Going pound for pound is the least that conservatives could do.

Everyone has the right to their self-definition, this is the liberal mantra. If that's too much selfishness untethered, then I suggest you find a worthy common thread in the notion of self-defense.
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Daniel Baker
Daniel Baker
I'm all for Republican governors exercising their powers to appoint university board members who are conservative, at the very least in the sense of wishing to conserve the three thousand-year heritage of western science and literature that much of the modern academic world now explicitly wants to destroy.

DeSantis's removal of Disney's privileges for its stance on gender education in Florida schools is the exact equivalent of city governments' efforts (unsuccessful in San Antonio, possibly successful elsewhere) to shut down Chick-Fil-A concessions in city airports for its stance on same-sex marriage. Either both are constitutional, or neither one is. I think "both are unconstitutional" is by far the better answer. An America where your company's ability to get business done depends on whether your politics agree with the current state or city government's is not an America we should want.
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    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Zenos Alexandrovitch
    Probably Disney's original state was unconstitutional - having been given special privileges under the law - a violation of equal protection rights.

    Vs. Chick-fil-A where they did not have special privileges, but are getting standard rights removed - a violation of equal protection rights.
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Breck Henderson
Breck Henderson
The only problem I see is that should Florida elect a Democrat governor, he/she might be able to reverse the work of Ron DeSantis. But yes, political leaders need to understand how the left controls institutions and reverse that control at the root. When they do, the left will scream "authoritarian" government and attempt to discredit DeSantis and his appointees. Not going to work any more.
schedule 4 weeks ago