Will Comrade DeSantis Succeed in Destroying the Constitution?
The GOP's naked appeals to racism, bigotry, and hate are as destructive to a nation founded on an idea as is their defiance of our Constitution
So now Ron DeSantis gets to trash Disney, claim the title of Chief Culture Warrior in an election year, and even raise taxes on one of the few Blue counties in Florida, all in one stroke.
But his behavior is a lot more dangerous than just a political stunt.
From their naked attempt to overthrow our government on January 6th, to Florida’s recent unconstitutional legislation punishing Disney for engaging in First Amendment-protected free speech, it’s becoming clear that Republicans are working to fundamentally change America by destroying our Constitution.
The Constitution is the basic operating system for our democratic republic: without it, America becomes a jumble of regional and local interests with no unifying principle, just as it was when we were operating (unsuccessfully) under the Articles of Confederation after the end of the Revolutionary War and before the Constitution was ratified and George Washington was elected president in 1789.
To say that America is the first nation in history “based on ideas, rather than blood and soil” is an understatement. At the time the Constitution was ratified it had been over 3000 years since a literate “civilized” nation had made a serious run at a constitutional republican government.
This is why the oath of office in America is so specific. Article 2, which creates and specifies the office of the President, says:
“Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: – I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
It doesn’t require the president to protect the country, the citizens of the country, or even the symbols of the country like the flag or the Capitol. It only requires the president to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution.
Because the Founders and Framers knew that if you’re going to have a country based on an idea, that idea must be sacrosanct.
Every time it collides with local, temporary, or political considerations it must prevail.
Without it, the idea is gone; without the idea, the country is dead.
It’s also why Article 6 applies that oath to everybody else who wants to participate in our government, from federal to state elected officials to appointed officers; all must also swear their loyalty to the Constitution, and the Constitution alone.
They must swear to place the Constitution above family, friends, community, party, and even their loyalty to their gods or religions:
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Like most people my age, I learned this in 4th or 5th grade civics; we went to school before Reagan gutted civics education in America to lay the foundation for privatizing our public school systems, along with most other government functions.
The fact that there’s not a louder outcry against Republican efforts to undermine the Constitution demonstrates the sad state of civics education in America today.
Teachers are government employees, so Republicans in Florida are within their rights to punish or even fire them with their “Don’t Say Gay” law if they allow a discussion in class of little Jimmy’s two mommies.
It’s disgusting, un-American, bigoted and a crass political stunt, but it does fall within the powers granted legislatures by the Constitution.
But when Disney — a corporate “person” the Supreme Court says is protected by the Bill of Rights (even if I do disagree with their logic) — publicly protests the legislation, and Republicans openly and proudly punish Disney for taking a stand about government behavior (“petitioning for redress”), they’re spitting on the very Constitution they swore to protect and defend.
The First Amendment to the Constitution — the most important of the Bill of Rights, which is why it was placed first — guarantees that government cannot deny any American (or, by SCOTUS logic, American corporation) their free speech rights, including the right to openly challenge government policies:
“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Article 6 of the Constitution also contains the “Supremacy Clause,” which puts federal law and the Constitution above all state laws. When Comrade DeSantis declares he’s signing the legislation because, like a mob boss or tinpot dictator, he wants to punish them for their speech, he’s breaking the law.
He came right out and said it, after all:
“You’re a corporation based in Burbank, Calif., and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state? We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.”
DeSantis’ spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, tried to apply a layer of fog over the strongman autocrat’s actions, saying, “It is not ‘retaliatory’ to pass legislation that gets rid of carve-outs and promotes a fairer environment for all companies to do business.”
And, indeed, if that’s all that had happened, she’d be right. But DeSantis’ own words put the lie to her efforts to sanitize his obvious dislike of our constitutional republic and its First Amendment.
In this, DeSantis is simply following in Trump’s footsteps.
Trump’s trashing the press — also protected by the First Amendment — and attacking the right to protest (most visibly with his assault on protestors in Lafayette Square and sending anonymized federal kidnappers into Portland) has established a new fascist baseline for Republican politicians.
They can now tear apart the Constitution with glee and in the open, and will continue to do so until they’re held accountable by the courts or defeated at the ballot box.
As DeSantis toady and state Representative Randy Fine, who introduced the “Punish Disney” legislation, said, they had passed that legislation exclusively and specifically “because of the way Disney has behaved…”
Orange County Florida, where most of Disney’s property is located, will have to pick up tens of millions of dollars in new and additional property taxes because of the Republican legislation.
Given that Orange County is one of the few in the state that reliably votes Blue, 60.9% Democrats to 37.8% Republicans, that may be a feature of the new legislation rather than a bug.
Using the power of the state to reward friends and punish enemies is a form of corruption that was normal across the world when our “Great Experiment” in republican democracy was first begun. The Framers of our Constitution thought they could overcome that type of corruption, as laid out in these quotes from the Constitution.
But repeated assaults against our Constitution by wannabee dictators like Trump and DeSantis have put our nation’s founding principles to their most severe test since the Civil War.
Their naked appeals to racism, bigotry, and hate are as destructive to a nation founded on an idea as is their defiance of our Constitution.
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Thom - I hold you and the decades long literally volumes of work you have done to insure this nation continuously moves toward a society that is mirrors the true promise of a nation. A nation that strives to be egalitarian and empathetic to the citizenry.
You are among a tiny but powerful few, like Chomsky, Robert Reich, Bill Moyers and Heather Cox Richardson who tirelessly use their genius to cut through the fog and smoke of propoganda and lies generated by rampant, crony Capitalism that seeks to gain its true Fascist and Christo Fascist hold on the people.
Around 2008 I began to describe the Republicans (largely under Bush) as Fascist. People were aghast at this proper term to describe what they wanted to see as the party of Ike, when that “conservative” ideology began to reveal itself through Goldwater and onto Reagan. The Cold War set into full blown operation Neo Fascism 2.0 we have today in that that at this time Jews are not a dedicated target of mass slaughter.
My deepest respect and encouragement for your efforts to raise the consciousness of decent Americans.
Democracy can not bel allowed to perish!
DeSantis is part of a long line of Republicans who have violated our Constitution in pursuit of plutocracy. Before DeSantis there was Rick Scott who forbade state employees from mentioning the words climate change, global warming, and sustainability as Governor of Florida, a state almost surrounded by sea water and potential hurricanes:
These policies mainly stem from the Koch network of like-minded billionaire influence and fossil fuel ownership on the Republican Party. Their puppet politicians are tasked with a contradictory challenge: Create a plutocracy while appearing to be on the side of "freedom" and the "people." It's no wonder they always flounder and appear as hypocrites, when their tax cuts don't trickle down.
DeSantis is banned by his R sponsors to actually legislate policies that would help to protect all Floridians: It's much easier to create fictional issues then address obvious challenges:
Also, addressing critical challenges would require re-installing the wealthiest Americans, who also own 90% of American corporate wealth, into our progressive taxation system. This is the same system that actually made America an Empire. How else could real Florida issues be addressed, without raising taxes?
Yet, sometimes Republicans put on a good show pretending they are doing something without even coming close:
10 Million is one-percent of one-billion. The average cost of hurricanes alone in Florida is 148 Billion annually over the last five years:
DeSantis is banned by his R sponsors to actually formulate environmental and climate change policies that would protect all Floridians. It's much easier to ban books then address these obvious challenges:
After running up a Federal debt tab by 11 Trillion, causing a Depression, and an Insurrection in just four years, while ignoring our critical challenges what is left for the Republicans to run on? Their answer is to develop fictions, and then offer unconstitutional solutions to their fictional reality. Hence, we need to ban books, arrest teachers for teaching sex ed in kindergarden, and of course privatize the public school system. All this will make the the pathways to a plutocracy easier because our kids will learn less, be easier to indoctrinate, and a few chosen corporations will profit from their exclusive rights to publish & monitor Republican untruths. Monopolies are the building blocks of a plutocracy and by necessity so is misinformation.