Dear Governor DeSantis,
Good tidings and a late congratulations for your Florida gubernatorial win in November. Myself, I was rooting for the other guy, but you’re there now, and so this gets addressed to you. You came to mind because I found myself Googling “in which state of the U.S. do the majority of bats live?” and I was puzzled when it wound up not being yours. I can only resolve you (and your predecessors) have had all that batshit imported.
Your state has a magnificent conundrum. It’s warm. It has beauty in its ecology and cloud-cover. It’s a guiding light for many refugees. Tampa, in particular, and the surrounding parts like Ybor City, Clearwater, and St. Pete. take my breath away. Tampa’s particularly impressive for its lightning storm basin alone. Almost every summer season evening seemed like the 4th of July on crack to me. But it also appears to be the nation’s beacon for profound psychiatric diagnoses. I’m years late to this game, but, to my surprise, I learned today of the “Florida Man Challenge”. Surely you must have gotten the skinny sooner than I. Accordingly, the challenge directs any contestant throughout the nation (and abroad) to enter the words “Florida Man” and their birthdate into the Google search engine to see what entertaining news emerges. When my own birthday passed I couldn’t help myself. Three batshit crazy news items popped up reliably and all of them only hours old.
I don’t mean to pick on Florida, certainly not at the expense of other failed states. I’ve visited it myself, for both business and pleasure, and it’s a beautiful place. But it seems that the U.S. most southern part of the Bible-belt has something of an image crisis.
Of course, crisis can mean opportunity, and I’ll be addressing this in a few moments, but as the state’s premiere I don’t see you can avoid acknowledging the issue. I see two options. The first is that you attempt to make some form of State of the State address. You are the state’s moral compass now. Like it or not you’re tasked with its provincial salvation. The address should identify the fact that your state’s become something of this nation’s village idiot. The electoral debacles in 2000 Bush V. Gore and elections since (including the last) haven’t painted your peninsula state in a rosy way. They’re drawn ire from the rest of the nation. I take no shaudenfreude from it, however else this missive must sound, but Florida is notorious for disenfranchising minority voters. The national embarrassment is too heavily concentrated in your state, and it must be confronted, whatever your political suffix. Weak link or no, Disney World is still very much apart of the nation until it becomes swallowed by the Atlantic from the climate changes you feel are a non-issue. In advance of that day, Florida is important real estate — no matter how many aggressively invasive reptiles run rampant throughout your Everglades.
This would be my initial response but hardly the last. Another might be reconsidering your “Sunshine Laws”. Myself, I’m a hard charging 1st amendment advocate, but your state’s laws regarding the availability of public records have attracted a paparazzi of looky-loos from the four corners of the planet. This has ceased being a 1st amendment problem. It’s become a quarantine problem. You really need to control your state’s narrative better so that you can take it out of such an extreme lime light. Aren’t your constituents UV exposed enough? It’s a public relations fiasco, and its other laws aren’t exactly doing much to ameliorate the issue.
Vis a vis your lax gun laws and that “Stand Your Ground” law. Not helping. George Zimmerman was a black eye for your state wiping out unarmed Afro-American teen Trayvon Martin and George invited more gun violence incidents. I won’t hyperlink here because I have other agenda items today, and that could immobilize me long enough to give me bed sores. Myself, I’d be securing that shit, forthwith. I’d at least be taking a stand on it to keep Florida from chronically being on the wrong side of history.
Your state’s execution issue? Problematic. I mean, yes, Florida took out Ted Bundy, but the death penalty’s not an applause worthy position anymore. Ignoring expense, the toll it takes on your state’s minorities is unproportional and, last I checked, whatever else can be said, that keeps Florida appearing feudal in comparison to other states. Here’s a CNN link:
Indeed, featuring two black guys locked up in your state since 1976 for a crime neither committed. And they are surely an infinitesimal decimal of the injustice rife throughout the Floridian penal system. This aired May 30th 2019 and it’s compounding evidence that Florida state isn’t competent to administer ANY penalty, let alone a fatal one. Especially not to anyone with skin darker than a tan. Lots of states seem to be in the news more frequently for mismanagement, but the Sunshine State is the prize fighting winner for a failed one. Of course, the fault isn’t entirely yours. Your predecessor, Rick Scott (now, one of Florida’s two U.S. senators) certainly did (or didn’t do?) his share. He’s one of a scad of other state governors who carried water for the NRA and Koch Bros. (David Koch may he RIP — interpret that acronym how you would) dark money (also Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, and Ohio’s John Kasich). You have a lot of guano to clean up in his wake.
I’m not trying to muddy what could be a promising career, here. Heck, one day you may be a presidential primary candidate! Of this country, even! I’m suggesting you take this opportunity to triage priority. Your state is on four-alarm fire. Whenever I do something dumb (like post this on FB?) I just tell others I’m a Floridian native and the conversation ends right there. This is not a promising CV item, but you could turn it around and make your biggest weakness your greatest strength.
Or, like I mentioned earlier, you could go the other way. I don’t much like it, because I’m a patriot, but I’d be intellectually dishonest not to include it as an alternative: You could commoditize your state’s proclivity for outlandish news by making a new reality show, “Florida Man: Challenged”. At least you could cash in, lead the charge of the paparazzi. According to the 2015 Census Bureau you’re all $33.3 billion in the hole. The revenue proceeds could potentially put the Sunshine State in the black! It’s a tough call, Governor, but it would be a shame, whichever way you chose, to leave this opportunity a missed one.