This is Florida:
And this is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as ably summarized by Paul Waldman: fight science, keep people from stopping COVID, ignore the casualty count, brag (to the survivors) that you enraged the liberals:
Any politician can be an Internet troll concerned with nothing so much as Owning the Libs, and many in DeSantis’s party think that’s their most fruitful path to success. But to really capture the hearts of the party base, you have to show your willingness to do actual harm to people’s lives as you wage war against the other side. And that’s where DeSantis is excelling.
Not that he’s above trolling. DeSantis sells T-shirts attacking Anthony S. Fauci and is now blaming the covid crisis in his state on undocumented immigrants in Texas; presumably we’re supposed to believe they cross the border near El Paso, walk to Corpus Christi, then dive in the Gulf of Mexico and swim to Tampa, a superhuman covid triathlon that is now filling Florida’s hospitals.
That kind of idiocy aside, no governor in America has done so much to make the spread of covid more likely. DeSantis signed a law nullifying local public health measures and banning private companies from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. In a case brought by Norwegian Cruise Line, which hopes to prevent its cruises from becoming floating superspreader events, a judge just blocked the law’s implementation.
And in an escalating battle with local officials, he instructed school districts not to require masks and even threatened to withhold funding from any district that does so.
Each of these moves creates conflict and headlines, and each one is guaranteed to produce outrage on the part of liberals and anyone else who actually would like to see the pandemic end, which enables DeSantis to position himself as a chief antagonist in the politicized struggle over covid.
To be clear, DeSantis has encouraged people to get vaccinated. But the bulk of his public focus has been on attacking efforts to actually slow the spread of the virus. “We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state, and I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state,” he says
With a state government so determined not just to do as little as possible itself to prevent the spread of the virus but to actively prevent anyone else from doing anything either, it isn’t surprising that the delta variant found particularly friendly ground in Florida. It’s now experiencing its worst covid surge since the pandemic began last year; last week the state registered an average of 19,000 new covid cases and 1,800 new hospitalizations every day. It accounts for an incredible one in five cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the entire country.
Yet the fact that Florida has become Delta Ground Zero has apparently only increased DeSantis’s determination to allow covid to continue spreading.
Certainly, to the extent that the plan is to enrage folks like me, the plan is working very well. And, true, the dead don’t vote. (They do have families.)
But hasn’t the time come to say, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”