For The GOP, The Future Is Florida – And Freedom

florida covid

I live on top of a mountain on the Virginia/West Virginia border where we routinely get snow between October and May, and I love it.

So little about Florida appeals to me. But even I, as a committed fan of cold-weather living far from civilization, has to admit that for the Republican Party – the future is Florida.

Policy-wise, few in the Republican Party have handled the coronavirus better than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Just this week, as other Governors were shutting down large swaths of their economies in an effort to look like they were doing something to respond to rising case loads, DeSantis said:

“We’re happy to be here at Okeechobee Steakhouse to really send a message that at a time when folks in our service industries, particularly restaurants, lodging, and hospitality, have kind of taken it on the chin, particularly in other states, where they’ve been completely shut down.

We just want to send a message: Some may want to shut you down; we want to pull you up. We’ve got your back.”

Florida Vs. New York: Response To COVID

Despite having one of the oldest and most at-risk population in the country, Florida’s COVID death rate per 100,000 is 94. This is less than half the death rate of New Jersey (201) and almost half the death rate of New York (184).

New Jersey and New York’s governors have both instituted draconian economy-crushing regulations, while Florida – by and large – has been open for business.

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The facts, however, haven’t stopped the mainstream media from attempting to criticize and ridicule DeSantis’ approach at every juncture.

As Clay Travis so deftly recognized:

The mainstream media has almost universally praised New York governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership while almost universally denigrating the leadership of Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

New York has been held up as a model for all states to follow — lauded as a success story by almost all mainstream media — while Florida has been ridiculed as representing all that is wrong with the nation’s response to the coronavirus.

Yet when you look at the data, it’s quite clear the media has gotten this completely wrong.

To wit: a very recent example:

While other Republican governors, like Maryland’s Larry Hogan, have bent to media pressure and modeled their response on the failed approach of Democrats like Andrew Cuomo (NY) or Phil Murphy (NJ), DeSantis has been absolutely unwavering in his commitment to keeping the state open, the economy afloat, and workers employed.

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As a result of DeSantis’ efforts, not only are Floridians healthier, their economy is healthier.

Job losses in Florida are half the job losses in New York – despite the fact that Florida economy is heavily dependent on travel and tourism.

Florida Proves Freedom Is The Winning Political Message

Not only has Florida been a model of how Republicans can and should handle COVID-19, Florida is a model for how Republicans can win elections across the country.

Florida is a large and ethnically diverse state – not usually a great recipe for Republican victories.

Despite that, Florida has become more and more reliably Republican – even as the state gets even more ethnically diverse.

In 2020, Trump tripled his margin of victory from 2016.

But it didn’t end there – Republicans picked up two Congressional seats in Hispanic-heavy south Florida districts while Republicans added seats in the state house and state senate down ballot.

The 2020 victories in Florida came on the heels of two stunning Republican victories statewide in Florida – in the Governor’s race and the Senate race in 2018, in a terrible year for Republicans across the country.

These victories have been powered by incredible inroads made with Hispanic voters.

While much of the media focus has been on inroads made in Cuban-American communities, Republicans have made gains with Hispanics beyond just conservative-leaning Cubans.

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The Future Is Now

For Republicans going forward, we need more Republican candidates and elected officials to follow the lead of Florida.

We need more Governors like Ron DeSantis who are willing to stand up to the mainstream media, stand up for workers, and demand that the science – rather than fear – be the guide for our response to COVID. 

We need more Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz who are willing to unapologetically fight for an America First agenda.

We need more state parties like the Florida GOP who are committed to making the case to Hispanic and black voters about why our policies are better for them and for all Americans.

As a snow-loving mountain guy, it pains me to say this, but the future is Florida.

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is President of Right Turn Strategies. He is a contributor to The Hill, and a regular on the Kennedy... More about Christopher Barron

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