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After Big Win, DeSantis Styles Himself the Patron Saint of Freedom

Governor says Florida is where “woke goes to die.”
November 8, 2022
After Big Win, DeSantis Styles Himself the Patron Saint of Freedom
(The Bulwark composite / Photos: GettyImages / Midjourney)

Turns out Ron DeSantis wasn’t kidding around with his ad about how “On the Eighth Day God Made Ron DeSantis.” Judging by his victory speech Tuesday, he really does think of himself in Biblical proportions:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis celebrates 'landslide' victory: 'Freedom is here to stay'

The Florida governor was handily re-elected on Tuesday, as expected, defeating the undynamic and too-familiar Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points. But in his eyes, it was a superhuman feat. He described his victory as “a win for the ages” attributed to the “best-run campaign in the history of Florida politics.” And those were probably his most humble brags of the evening.

DeSantis styled himself as an American—no, global—patron saint of freedom for his efforts to keep Florida’s schools and businesses open through the pandemic. “Florida was a refuge of sanity when the world went mad,” DeSantis said. “We stood as a citadel of freedom for people across this country and, indeed, across the world.”

Rather than talking about coronavirus specifically, however, DeSantis described his term as a crusade against “medical authoritarianism” and, more broadly, “woke ideology.” He said Americans were “voting with their feet” and going to Florida to seek escape from “states and cities governed by leftist politicians.”

Then he riffed on—ripped off—the peroration of Churchill’s famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech, with the enemy in this case being “the woke”:

The woke agenda has caused millions of Americans to leave these jurisdictions for greener pastures. This great exodus of Americans, for those folks, Florida for so many of them, has served as the promised land. We have embraced freedom.

We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers, and we reject woke ideology.

We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.

DeSantis said that he believes Florida offers the country a “ray of hope that better days lie ahead” and closed his speech with a reference to Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy.

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race in the first term, and I have kept the faith,” DeSantis said. “We’ve accomplished more than anyone thought possible four years ago, and I have only begun to fight!”

Clearly, DeSantis is signaling he would like to carry his faithful fight forward . . . somewhere. But to get out of Florida, he will have to change his model considerably. His biggest enemy ahead isn’t a weak, woke Charlie Crist-Democrat he can clobber on red turf. It’s Donald Trump, who has already punched at DeSantis. We’ll soon see if DeSantis is willing to punch back.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.