In hurricane chaos, Florida's Ron DeSantis emerges a leader

As Florida began to dig out from its horrific encounter with Hurricane Ian, Gov. Ron DeSantis demonstrated what a real leader looks like.

According to the New York Post:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a pointed warning to anyone looking to take advantage of the chaos caused by Hurricane Ian.

“Don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation. And so local law enforcement is involved in monitoring that,” he said during a Friday news conference.

“You can have people you know bringing boats into some of these islands and trying to ransack people’s homes. I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home, and I would not wanna chance that if I were you, given that we’re a Second Amendment state,” he added.



That's a pointed, and pre-emptive, warning to looters that looting will not be tolerated as the state moves to recover from its hurricane mauling. Looters would face consequences, and not just the prissy lawyer kind with nice, neat, rights, laid out according to Marquess of Queensberry rules -- but freeform justice, such as that carried out by targeted civilians who stand up to defend their homes.

The statement was also an assurance to terrified homeowners that he had their back as much as it was a warning to looters to stay the hell out.

And words can't describe how important that actually is towards maintaining a civilized society which can recover from Nature's Worst. The cornerstone of all free societies is respect for private property. It's not "just stuff" of just monetary value, as the left would have you believe, but a sense of what kind of society you live in, and whether you can count on civilization being there tomorrow or not. Looting is a gateway to far more horrible crimes, as any resident of a South American shantytown can tell you. If a society has no rules whatsoever, then anything can happen. Shantytowns, with no serious government presence, tend to have ferocious rules created by the locals to prevent total mayhem from taking over.

Any leader in any kind of strife or disaster always begins by securing property and safety first for the people. This was one of the most important lessons from the experience of Gen. Douglas MacArthur as he took over rule of Japan as a de facto viceroy, according to the great Peruvian economist on property rights and rule of law, Hernando de Soto, who told this to me years ago as he discussed why the Bush administration couldn't seem to win its war in Iraq. It's just a remembered phone conversation, but I recall he spoke eloquently about how MacArthur moved to restore order to the beaten, demoralized, Japanese population and in focusing on property rights and title deed, he laid the groundwork for Japan's spectacular rise from the ashes of war.  

By no coincidence, he refused to tolerate looting. This actually goes further back in his career than just Japan, when he sent one of his lieutenants to win over the Philippines' local people by cracking down on bandits and looters plaguing them in order to win their hearts and mind so as to win the broader war with Japan.

MacArthur understood the importance of property rights -- as clearly does DeSantis.

It's a wise, sound strategy given the terror most Florida residents must feel about the damage from the storm, the damage to their houses, the disruption to their lives, and most unsettling, the knowledge that in their vulnerability, without water or electricity, someone is going to be there to make sure looting marauders don't steal them blind in their vulnerable state.

There also seems to be a name and shame policy going on -- here's a photo that a reporter somehow got hold of, of law enforcement officers guarding a group of people that sheriff's deputys say were caught looting:



The recent howls by some in the media, claiming that the governor was "racist" for warning looters, on the false premise that looters are always black people, is belied by the photo of mostly white people rounded up and handcuffed for looting while a black law enforcement officer guards them. Racist? Bzzzt, wrong! They've got egg all over their faces.

There's little doubt that DeSantis knows what he is doing as he prioritizes, as a leader, the importance of halting looters. 

The great Ronald Reagan first caught the attention of the American people by going against the prevailing sentiment of the intelligentsia and acting to stop those creating mayhem. In Berkeley, California, Reagan sent in the National Guard against the hippies creating a lawless situation of disorder and running riot in 1969 over something called "People's Park" and too bad if the hippies didn't like it. There would be order, or else, which was a stunning development in the era of weakling leaders like U.C.Berkeley Chancellor Clarke Kerr who constantly let the radicals crawl all over him and run riot. The left howled, but Reagan stood firm, and the voters were informed that they were in the presence of a leader with presidential timbre.

We see the same spirit in Gov. Ron DeSantis, and voters, as well as Florida's beleaguered homeowners, are going to notice. If the hurricane recovery effort goes as well as this with a governor who has his priorities straight, he could be headed to higher office come 2024.

Image: CBS News video screen shot, via Twitter

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