Opinion polls show Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trailing Donald Trump by about 20 points in the Republican Presidential Primaries, so he knows he needs to garner all the support he can possibly muster. Well... maybe not all of it.
If you happened by Epcot Center Dr. in Orlando last Saturday afternoon, it's possible you may have noticed a disturbing sight: A group of people waving Nazi flags and banners supporting DeSantis.
Chants such as "Go back to Mexico" and other such pearls of wisdom were heralded by those who wanted to create animosity and division. Florida congresswoman Anna Eskamani recorded the incident when she drove by.
But why DeSantis, you ask? Why not Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago resort is also in Florida and has been associated with many prominent white supremacists in the past?
To understand the answer, we need to backtrack a bit. As early as two years ago, DeSantis began decrying the perils of "Woke" culture, vehemently opposing the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Florida public schools. On December 15, 2021, Governor DeSantis announced the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, also known as the "Stop WOKE Act."
This bill aims to give parents the ability to file lawsuits against school districts that include critical race theory in their curriculum. The purpose of this bill is to address what is perceived as "woke indoctrination" in Florida's businesses and schools.
The Stop WOKE Act seeks to prevent instructional practices that may lead individuals to feel personally responsible for historical wrongdoings based on their race, gender, or national origin. It also aims to prevent instruction that presents the notion of inherent racism, sexism, or oppression in individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Additionally, the bill aims to prevent instruction that suggests groups of people are either oppressed or privileged based on their race, gender, or national origin.
With these in mind, he was harshly criticized by the Walt Disney Corporation, and a much-publicized feud began. DeSantis called upon the legislature to strip Disney of its ability to self-govern the land occupied by Disney World.
From their end, Disney sued the governor, arguing DeSantis violated its First Amendment rights because of his decision to strip Disney of its special tax status, alleging punitive retaliation for their opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
To be clear - There is no substantiated connection between the hostile, racist crowd waving Nazi flags and supporting DeSantis right next to the entrance to Disney World, and DeSantis himself. It's likely he was as surprised as anyone to see them there and the smart money would be on him either disavowing them or ignoring them altogether.
But just as Trump attracted much adoration from white supremacist circles back in 2016 because of his positions, the same seems to be happening to his main challenger for the GOP nomination this time around.
While Trump has taken the callous approach and dismissed any criticism about his associations as "politically motivated attacks", it remains to be seen if the esteemed governor has the courage the take the same route or find an alternate path out of this conundrum.