Imagine you are the Governor of the great state of Florida. You look out at the state from your perch in Tallahassee, and consider how to make best use of your control of gerrymandered majorities in both houses of the state legislature. What problem in the State might catch your eye, one so serious and immediate that it requires a special session of the legislature in November — rather than waiting until the regular session two months later?
If you are Governor DeSantis, it seems you decide that Florida’s #1 urgent problem is that not enough people have died from COVID-19. And, having made this observation, you set right out to solve the problem.
This is, most horribly, neither a joke nor an exaggeration: Governor DeSantis announced today that he plans to call a special session of the Florida legislature in order to pass laws that would ban any local government from imposing a vaccination mandate, and create incentives designed to discourage businesses from doing so.
The original trial balloon suggested a ban on private businesses demanding that workers get vaccinated, but perhaps claims that this was dictatorial socialism caused a mild retreat: now we’ll just have a law that makes businesses liable for any medical harm that results from a mandatory vaccination, and a removal of existing protections for businesses from coronavirus-related liability if the businesses mandates vaccination for their employees.
You may think I’m being over the top here, in saying that DeSantis wants more people to die, presumably to allow more posturing to further his Presidential ambitions. But don’t take it from me. Take it from State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), whom the Sun-Sentinel quoted as saying DeSantis’ plan is “disgusting”:
“It’s so nakedly political,” Smith said. “And Floridians will die because of DeSantis’s political ambitions. Gov. DeSantis is more than happy to trade the lives of Floridians for GOP votes in Iowa and campaign contributions in Utah. In 2021, being a Florida Republican is more about being anti-vax and pro-COVID-19 than anything else. … Welcome to Florida, where politics have become deadly.”
In any functioning polity we would impeach DeSantis; in Brazil they might indict him for mass murder. Instead, here, we take him seriously as a candidate first for re-election, then perhaps for President or Vice-President. That is our #1 urgent problem.