Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoichi Shimada

【#983】What Can Be Learned from DeSantis’s Landslide

Yoichi Shimada / 2022.11.16 (Wed)

November 14, 2022

While Democrats have retained their control over the Senate in the U.S. midterm elections, the general trend in the House has yet to be clear. I therefore would like to focus on a Florida gubernatorial race that was the most impressive and implicative. It may serve as a reference for Japan in many aspects.

Consistency made Florida governor a focal figure

Florida is one of swing states where Democrat and Republican candidates go neck and neck in every election race. In the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election for which Republican candidate Ron DeSantis ran for the first time, he defeated a Democrat opponent with a razor-thin margin of 0.4 percentage points.

In the election this year, however, DeSantis won reelection with a large margin of some 20 points, even though the governor in his first four yeas advocated and implemented clearly conservative policies and drew fierce attacks from the left, brushing off a theory that politicians should demonstrate moderate policies to win support from independent voters.

The landslide victory has led him to be viewed as one of the leading candidates for the 2024 presidential election.

“Florida was a refuge of sanity when the world went mad,” DeSantis said in his speech to declare his victory on November 8. This remark might have referred mainly to his COVID-19 policy.

During the pandemic, he has kept economic activity restrictions to the minimum and for the shortest period of time. DeSantis refrained from issuing any “stay at home” advisory and resumed face-to-face school classes earlier than other states. He did not impose a mask or vaccination mandate. He prohibited vaccination certificates from becoming a condition for employment continuation or admittance. He has generally refused to restrict freedom in a manner to follow suit of others who fear of media criticism. As a result, an economic decline in Florida has been relatively small.

In a bid to prevent spying by the Chinese Communist Party regime, DeSantis has encouraged the Florida State Assembly to impose restrictions on Florida-based universities’ joint projects with Chinese researchers or universities.

Fight against masochistic view of history and decarbonization fundamentalism

On education, DeSantis has called on public schools not to teach the critical race theory (CRT) that the United States has been based on structural racism since its founding and advocated a bill to guarantee parents’ right to file suits against school districts teaching the CRT. He believes that taxpayers’ money should not be used for educational practices that could lead children to hate their country or could sow seeds of discord between white and black children. “We chose education over indoctrination,” DeSantis said in the victory speech.

DeSantis has also supported a bill to ban any guidance on sexual orientation or sexual identity at school classes for third-grade or younger children.

Regarding energy, DeSantis has fought against decarbonization fundamentalists. While some municipalities in Florida have come up with a policy of endorsing renewable energy as the only power source, DeSantis has cooperated with Florida State Assembly conservatives in enacting a law to prohibit a ban or a restriction on any power source. We would like to use his achievements as references.

Yoichi Shimada is a senior fellow and Planning Committee member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and a professor at Fukui Prefectural University.