In Charleston, Ron DeSantis gave a pitch-perfect conservative speech

I’ve just returned from hearing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak. I went in open-minded and came out impressed. DeSantis is a very good speaker, but it was the content of his speech, which is about core conservativism, that had the audience clapping and cheering. DeSantis made the case that his very successful, focused, disciplined conservative leadership is what all voters want.

In 2018, when he was first elected, out of 8 million votes cast, DeSantis won by only 32,000 votes. Still, he took his win as a mandate to implement the policies and principles he’d promised. When he ran for reelection four years later, he got reelected by over 1.5 million votes. Voters, he believes, responded to leadership and competence.

Leading from the front means abandoning polls. “Why would I want to be led by polls? A leader is not captive to poll results. A leader sets out a vision, executes the vision, and delivers results for people.”

Leadership also requires team cohesion, which DeSantis instituted on his first day. His job was to make the decisions, and his team had to be on board. The result is no drama and, he explained, “just daily execution of the mission. And that’s the reason why we’ve been able to get so much stuff done.”

DeSantis governed proactively, rather than fearing he'd offend someone. You can’t make things happen if “your whole kind of ambition is to not upset anybody,” which can cause paralysis.

Ultimately, said DeSantis, “Leadership…is about doing what’s right when you have intense opposition and a lot of unfair criticism, but you’re still willing to chart the proper course. You’ve got to have the fortitude to stand alone, if necessary, if that's what the circumstances called upon.” DeSantis practices what he preaches, as seen with his stand against COVID madness and tyranny. He maintained individual liberty in Florida against pressure for lockdowns, masks, and forced vaccinations. For him, keeping the economy going and people working was a top priority.

Image: Ron DeSantis in Charleston by Andrea Widburg.

Floridians liked what he did. In 2022, said DeSantis, he won 62% of Hispanic votes, increased votes from women by 8%, and won independents by 18 percentage points. His team flipped blue urban counties by a large margin. Importantly, he and his team worked down the ticket, helping candidates for the state legislature and working with Moms for Liberty and other groups to flip schoolboards.

This last point particularly impressed me. Republican politics focus on the rarefied circle of politicians and big donors. However, the energy for a candidate or cause comes from the grassroots, which establishment Republicans too often ignore.

The result of the DeSantis team's efforts also led to a supermajority in the legislature and helped parents elect 29 conservative school board members across the state. Said DeSantis, “There’s not a single Democrat elected to statewide office for the first time since the Civil War period.” The lesson to learn, he says, is that “on key issues, the people—not just Republicans, but the broader electorate—side with us over the political left.”

DeSantis pointed out that Florida has low debt and low taxation. New York, with 3 million fewer people, has a budget twice the size of Florida’s, even as Florida soundly beats New York on infrastructure and education.

At the national level, Florida’s trillion-dollar economy has only $20 billion in debt. Meanwhile, “the national debt is bigger by trillions than our entire American economy” DeSantis added that, when you have “massive amounts of borrowing and spending,” with the Federal Reserve printing trillions, “of course you’re going to have inflation.”

DeSantis also understands that people want safe communities. In 2020, “when I saw [riots] going on in other states, we activated the National Guard in Florida. We had people ready to go.” His commitment to safety runs deep. “We've also rejected soft-on-crime policies. We've actually passed legislation prohibiting local governments from defunding law enforcement. And I'm the only elected official in the country that's actually removed a Soros-funded DA from office.”

Florida also stood tall against Fauciism. DeSantis kept businesses open and people free, even when that meant “we had to overrule local governments.” He also refused to mandate vaccinations for school children.

DeSantis has also made it a priority to protect children from indoctrination. I believe this is the most important issue any conservative candidate can address. No matter people’s personal values (left or right), when it comes to their naïve, imaginative, perfectly made children, the majority don’t want them taught that they’re racists or victims, or that their bodies are mistakes. Parents will back the candidate who protects their children.

Protecting children is what DeSantis has done. “We believe,” he said, that it’s important that education stay focused on the nuts and bolts. That’s why we’ve done things like ban critical race theory in our K through 12 schools.” Florida’s tax dollars won’t be used to teach children to “hate our country or hate each other.” Parents also have greater control over school curricula.

DeSantis spoke about his Exposing the Book Ban Hoax event, which included a video showing what was in the LGBTQ+ books leftists placed in schools. “The local news had to cut their broadcast because it was too graphic. Well, if it’s too graphic for the 6:00 news, why is it okay for a six-year-old kid?” DeSantis believes kids should never be exposed to a sexual agenda.

He's also battling Florida’s state colleges, where “it became normal that a university is used to impose an ideological agenda, to foment political activism, and to be agents for ‘social justice.’ That is not what a university should be doing.” He’s revitalizing higher education. Its purpose “is to search for truth, is academic rigor, and is giving students the foundation so they can think for themselves and be citizens of our republic.” DeSantis vigorously attacks DEI in academia, which he says stands for “discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination.”

DeSantis also reminded the audience that Florida is a border state with waterways attracting illegal immigrants and drugs, while its young people are dying from fentanyl. The Biden administration isn’t funding the Coast Guard, so Florida has stepped up. It repatriated 11,000 illegal aliens in just seven months. Also, after the hurricane last year, DeSantis was able to repair important local roadways in days and weeks when others predicted it would take months.

DeSantis wrapped up by talking about woke corporations that are “trying to leverage their economic power to change our country, to change society, to change policy” on everything from energy production to gun rights. They’re abandoning democratic processes (because they can’t win) to “do an end run around the constitution.” However, if corporations are going to get political, DeSantis will use his political power to ensure that Florida is “where woke goes to die.”

DeSantis closed by saying, “It’s really important that our society be rooted in truth,” and wokism is the antithesis of truth, especially regarding transgender issues. Ultimately, Americans are worried about core issues, while Democrats seek total power. He warned that a win for Democrats means the end of our representative democracy. Florida, he says, shows that we can return to the Founders’ vision, “and I can tell you that freedom is something that’s worth fighting for.”

UPDATE: While Gov. DeSantis was speaking to us, the Florida Board of Education voted to expand to all grades the policy barring instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation in schools. 

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