While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is desperately flailing around on the presidential campaign trail, let's not overlook his much more successful efforts to run Florida's economy straight into a ditch. In preparation for a run that seems to have been mortally wounded by Iowa voters getting a good look at him, DeSantis spent years grooming himself into a Donald Trump Mini-Me, attempting to appeal to Trump's base of far-right deplorables by promising even farther-right acts than Trump himself could accomplish.
That's put DeSantis in the position of being anti-vaxx, anti-mask, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-anti-racism, anti-CRT, anti-DEI, anti-schoolteacher, anti-university, and especially anti-woke, where "woke" is defined as anything and everything that the most hateful person you know might get into their heads to object to. And that, in turn, has been building into an outright disaster as Americans who aren't fascist hatepuddles start steering clear of the Sunshine State.
We're now seeing the next bit of fallout from DeSantis' pro-hatepuddle agenda, and this one could be a doozy: CNN is reporting that organizations are now beginning to cancel already-booked conventions in the state in direct response to new anti-LGBTQ+ and seemingly pro-racist laws promoted by DeSantis and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Those laws led to new travel alerts from Black, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ groups warning their members that Florida was a distinctly unsafe place to be, what with pro-DeSantis neo-Nazis rallying outside of the Walt Disney World gates.
With this first round of event cancellations, Florida is now out at least $20 million—a drop in the bucket. The bigger problem for Florida's convention centers is that large events like these are booked many years in advance. It is hard to move already-decided on conventions. It is easy, however, to remove Florida from the list of contenders when planning new conventions many years out.
And that is the long tail that can and has cost states billions. The CNN story notes that North Carolina's “bathroom bill” fiasco is estimated to have cost the state $3.7 billion. Florida hosts some of the nation's biggest tourism draws, and has even more to lose.
Again, it's really hard to overstate how much DeSantis has sucked when it comes to his ostensible day job of governing the state. His hate-based and conspiracy-minded policies have contributed to a state teacher shortage, a state doctor shortage, a shortage of farm workers, and a right-wing campaign against the New College of Florida that has left the institution without enough instructors to teach even required courses.
His war against the Walt Disney Company—a major state employer that earned DeSantis' ire for the most milquetoast of corporate objections to Florida's new anti-LGBTQ+ laws—has already resulted in Disney canceling a major expansion in the state and wariness from other national and international companies that don't want to face similar government-backed retaliation if and when DeSantis turns against them.
DeSantis even pulled the plug on $377 million in federal energy grants to the state, much of which would have gone toward consumer rebates to promote purchases of newer, more energy-efficient appliances, solely so that DeSantis could use the rejection as campaign fodder.
The state's inflation rate is more than double the national average, there's an ongoing sewage crisis, and the state is even facing new spikes of community-spread malaria and leprosy. And this is the guy who's using Nazi symbols to promote his plan to "Make America Florida”?
No! No, thank you! No leprosy for me, thanks. You keep that crap in Mar-a-Lago where it belongs.
It seems that states never learn this lesson, but electing a Republican governor with obvious presidential ambitions is a bad, bad move if you would like your state to have a decent economy, decent schools, and a notable absence of leprosy. DeSantis is still on the campaign trail despite his money woes, holding out hope that Donald Trump will fall down a manhole and die at some point before the Republican convention rolls around, but God knows what grievances he'll have upon returning to his Florida day job. I can't imagine there's a company or convention-having organization anywhere in the country that wants to nab themselves a new piece of that.
Just when you thought Florida's educational system couldn't get any worse ...
DeSantis' conservative policies are destroying Florida
Repressing freedom and the pursuit of knowledge has led to brain drains before. How about this time?
It’s a joyous week in Wisconsin, where Janet Protasiewicz’s swearing-in means that the state Supreme Court now has its first liberal majority in 15 years. We’re talking about that monumental transition on this week’s episode of “The Downballot,” including a brand-new suit that voting rights advocates filed on Protasiewicz’s first full day on the job that asks the court to strike down the GOP’s legislative maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders.