By Doug Stauffer
“Florida is proof positive that ‘We the People’ are not destined for failure. Decline is a choice. Success is attainable. And freedom is worth fighting for.” And “fight we must.” These words set the tone for Gov. Ron DeSantis’s inauguration speech.
A lot has changed over the past four years, especially in the political landscape of the Sunshine State. Four years ago, Congressman Ron DeSantis pulled out a narrow margin of victory over his opponent (less than one-half of 1 percent). Four years later, he won a landslide victory of epic proportions, with many Americans referring to him as “America’s Governor.”
Jan. 3 marked the beginning of his second term as governor as he and his cabinet took their oaths of office. The cabinet members included: Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez , Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and newly-elected Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson. The ceremony took place on the steps of the iconic Old Capitol in front of an enthusiastic crowd of thousands. Unlike the narrow margin of victory four years earlier, DeSantis won by more than 20 percentage points (receiving 1.5 million more votes than Charlie Crist).
The location and the DeSantis victory were historic, as was the Bible used to swear in DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Marie Nunez. They were sworn in using the Bible of the Revolution, which the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Congress commissioned more than 240 years ago. They placed their hands upon the King James Bible, published by Richard Aitken in 1782, shortly after America won the War of Independence. The “Aitken Bible” was the first and only English edition ever commissioned by the United States.
The overcast day looked ominous, but the good Lord provided clouds for shade, and a wonderful breeze for comfort instead of the rain forecasted. Everyone in the audience enthusiastically hung onto DeSantis’s every word realizing the significance and magnitude. The governor covered a wide range of topics, none more important than his support of traditional family values.
“Florida must always be a great place to raise a family – we will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children, and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence.” These words hardly left his lips before the crowd erupted while jumping to their feet for the first of many standing ovations.
DeSantis promised to continue his fight against the “woke” ideology attempting to gain a foothold in Florida. “We reject this woke ideology,” he said. “We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die!” In these regards, he also invoked God and appropriately quoted the Bible: “As the Book of Psalms reminds us, ‘I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.’” He also reminded us, “We embrace our founding creed that our rights are not granted by the courtesy of the state, but are endowed by the hand of the Almighty.”
As I have traveled around the United States and outside the continent, people from every corner of the globe applaud DeSantis for standing against the coronavirus-related restrictions and hysteria. His comments reflected this mindset: “Freedom lives here, in our great Sunshine State of Florida! When other states consigned their people’s freedom to the dustbin, Florida stood strongly as freedom’s linchpin. When the world lost its mind – when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue–Florida was a refuge of sanity, a citadel of freedom for our fellow Americans and even for people around the world.”
DeSantis also blasted politicians in Washington, calling the federal government a “sprawling, unaccountable bureaucracy” that “looms over us and imposes its will upon us.”
DeSantis’s first campaign promised to pursue bold agenda items that ensured taxing lightly, regulating reasonably and spending conservatively. During his first term, he enacted significant education reforms, attempted to reign in judicial activism, ushered in a new era of stewardship for Florida’s natural resources, stood for law and order and remedied deficiencies in Florida’s election administration.
DeSantis pointed out that Florida is leading the nation in many areas, including net in-migration as the fastest-growing state. We are No. 1 in business formations, tourism, economic freedom, education freedom, parental involvement in education, and public higher education.
“The policies pursued by these states have sparked a mass exodus of productive Americans from these jurisdictions – with Florida serving as the most desired destination, a promised land of sanity,” DeSantis said. He pointed out that other states have embraced faddish ideologies and harmed public safety by coddling criminals and attacking law enforcement. They have imposed unreasonable burdens on taxpayers to finance unfathomable levels of public spending, harmed education by subordinating the interests of students and parents to partisan interest groups, and imposed medical authoritarianism in the guise of pandemic mandates and restrictions lacking scientific basis.
DeSantis’ concluded as powerfully as he began: “It is our responsibility here in Florida to carry this torch. We do not run from this responsibility; we welcome it. We will be on our guard. We will stand firm in the faith. We will be courageous. We will be strong! And we thank God and are proud to be citizens of the great Free State of Florida!”