AMAC Exclusive by David P. Deavel
Yesterday, our nation paused to celebrate the courage of 160,000 Allied troops who crossed the English Channel to storm the beaches of Normandy at the risk of their own lives. The men exercised what G. K. Chesterton defined as “a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die”—so that Nazi tyranny would be ended and life might be sought again in Western Europe. Where do we find such courage in our time? Remarkably, it’s a politician who is showing it: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Of course, political courage is not quite the same as physical courage. There is nothing quite like the courage of those who have faced the ultimate tests of physical combat. At Pointe du Hoc, two hundred men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion were assigned to scale a one-hundred-foot cliff while under fire from guns on top of the cliff. Politicians in America do not face sudden death for their decisions. Instead, they face the scorn of media elites, corporate and especially big tech threats, and even Twitter mobs that are dangers to their careers and pocketbooks. Yet, they often quail at this non-mortal combat.
Without a doubt, Ron DeSantis has that physical courage. He was a Navy Seal who led troops in the 2007 surge in Iraq. Now he’s a politician. We might assume that the military courage would carry over, but as a line attributed to Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, himself a Bronze Star winner, had it, many a man who showed physical courage did not show it when placed in command centers or bureaucracies. Not so with the Florida governor. Perhaps he is an unusually integrated man. Perhaps his political courage was forged in his time as a conservative studying at Yale and Harvard Law School? However it was developed, it has been on display consistently, no more so than the last year.
One of the few governors who refused to seize “emergency powers” or bow to the bureaucrats of the CDC and the blue state governors who wanted him to tank his state because of COVID-19, DeSantis actually did what progressive critics bragged about doing: he actually “followed the science” and kept schools and beaches open and resisted a host of CDC recommendations that did not make sense. Despite massive criticism of his refusal to restrict businesses or have statewide mask mandates, DeSantis has had similar results to California regarding COVID deaths—without the economic destruction that also endangers people’s health.
He has continued to be the voice of sanity on public health. On April 2, he issued an executive order forbidding vaccine passports, even fighting the cruise lines on this point. Royal Caribbean Cruises has announced that they will accede to his demand that they not require vaccination for passengers last week. On May 3, he enacted an executive order to end all local emergency orders in Florida, and on May 14, announced he would seek a statewide pardon for all those charged with violating COVID guidance.
Nor has DeSantis’s courage flagged as the COVID pandemic waned. He has been fighting big tech political tyranny and, most recently, the threat to women’s athletics posed by the transgender movement’s insistence that biological males who identify as women be allowed to compete in women’s sports.
On May 24, DeSantis signed a bill allowing Floridians to sue big tech companies for up to $100,000 for deplatforming them for political reasons, fining companies $250,000 for deplatforming Florida state politicians, and allowing the Florida Attorney General to bring legal action against companies that violate the new law using Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If the social media companies are shown to violate antitrust law, they will be forbidden from any contracts with public entities.
DeSantis’s words on signing the bill show that he understands the threats we face: “Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
His most recent action was perhaps the bravest of all. He signed into law on June 1 the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act that forbids biological males from participating in female sports and allowing female athletes to sue schools who do allow this to happen. Like other Republican governors, DeSantis was faced with corporate pressure not to sign similar bills and NCAA threats to refuse to have sporting events in the state should such a bill be signed. Unlike governors such as South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem, DeSantis didn’t blink. As he told Tucker Carlson:
I remember the NCAA put out a statement saying any state that enacts this; we’re not going to hold events there. And so I called the Speaker of the House in Florida, and I said, ‘did you hear what they said?’ And he’s like, ‘yeah,’ I said, we definitely got to get this done. You can’t be cowed by these organizations, or particularly by woke corporations from doing the right thing. And so my view was throughout this whole time, we have to protect our girls; it is discriminatory to force them to compete against biological males. And so, if the price of having a tournament is that I have to deny equal opportunity to hundreds of thousands of young girl and women athletes throughout Florida, I am much more willing to stand with the girls. And to hell with these events.
There’s a reason many think Ron DeSantis is one of the leading Republican candidates for the presidential nomination. Like those young men on the beaches of Normandy, he exercises that thing Hemingway called “grace under pressure”: courage. The ancient Greek historian Thucydides said that it was the secret of freedom. Young men knew that secret at Omaha Beach, and now, it seems, a politician near Daytona Beach is in on it as well.