- The Washington Times
Monday, July 18, 2022

OPINION:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has bequeathed a healthy legacy to the virus-beleaguered nation. He showed the way to a post-shutdown America. He’s a prime reason millions of Americans got their jobs back.

He had the courage to break with the spell of Dr. Anthony Fauci who demanded a society of shut-ins. The Republican governor decreed that Florida was a free and open state. The COVID-19 disease would no longer rule, no longer destroy businesses, create drug addicts and disrupt school children. 


The DeSantis Declaration of Freedom was all the bolder because it came in late 2020, early 2021, bumping up against the dominant liberal press, czar Fauci and eventually the Biden White House. All loved lockdowns. Dr. Fauci, who once dismissed masks as ineffective, came to promote wearing horror creature-like double masks — with goggles. 

As early as August 2020, the governor urged schools to open again. 

“To our kids,” he told Floridians, “We are here for you. We want you to learn. We want you to compete in sports. We want you to participate in activities. You are the future of Florida.”

In his March 2021 State of the State address, Mr. DeSantis declared a clean break from liberal leaders who continued to keep people masked and jobless. 

“I see, in many parts of our country, a sad state of affairs: Schools closed, businesses shuttered and lives destroyed,” he said. “This calamitous reality is just the beginning of what will likely be long-term damage to children, families and society. … While so many other states kept locking people down, Florida lifted people up.”

“Because of our actions, Florida is leading the nation in the number of people submitting business formation applications and we are one of the top destinations for business relocation. Friends, legislators, Floridians, lend me your ears: We will not let anybody close your schools. We will not let anybody take your jobs and we will not let anybody close your businesses.”

Two months later, Mr. DeSantis signed a new law to back his loosening of COVID-19 shackles at a time when new coronavirus cases continued. 

A defiant Mr. DeSantis declared, “If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida? I’m standing in your way. If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way and stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people and impose mandates and ruin their jobs and livelihood, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way. I am standing for the people of Florida.”

The DeSantis liberty offensive greatly displeased the Washington overlords.

A year after Mr. DeSantis urged school openings and fought new mask mandates and closings, President Biden lashed out.

“Some state officials are passing laws … that forbid people from doing the right thing,” Mr. Biden said. “I say to the governors, please help. If you’re not going to help, get out of the way of the people that are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

A reporter asked then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the governor’s policies at a time when new cases were spiking. 

“If you aren’t going to help, if you aren’t going to abide by public health guidance, then get out of the way and let people do the right thing to lead in their communities, whether they are teachers, university leaders, private sector leaders, or others who are trying to save lives,” she said.

Asked if Mr. Biden might talk to Mr. DeSantis, she coldly answered, “Well, if we thought it would make a difference, I’m sure he would. But I don’t have any expectation or prediction of a call between them.”

“Get out of the way” meant in other words that Mr. DeSantis should stop his Florida-freedom movement and bring in Dr. Fauci to run the state. 

Today, Mr. Biden should thank Mr. DeSantis, who is running for reelection. 

Governments put over 20 million people out of work in 2020 via virus lockdowns. Mr. DeSantis in late 2020 began leading the way in opening back up, ending the folly of thinking a nation of shut-ins could defeat the virus. Other red-state governors joined in.

Because of the red push, every month the Labor Department reported that people are returning to their jobs. And Mr. Biden takes credit. 

These are add-back jobs. We have not yet recovered all of them. But the reason the private sector is again hiring is not because of anything Mr. Biden did. It’s because Mr. DeSantis ignored him.

As Politico reported in June 2021 in the midst of the DeSantis revolution and Biden tongue-lashing: “Of the 15 states that have returned to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity, 12 are led by Republican governors, Federal Reserve data shows. Of the 10 states reporting the lowest levels of activity since January 2020, seven — including New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois — are run by Democratic governors.”

The red-state job wave was to continue.

As of March, Florida, which lost nearly 1.3 million jobs to COVID-19, had regained all of them and then surpassed the mark, to a notch over 1.4 million, according to a chart produced by the Republican National Committee based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.

Red Texas, which also defied Mr. Biden, saw the same miracle, from 1.4 million jobs gone to nearly 1.7 million gained. 

Super-blue states California and New York, which embraced shutters, could have no such celebrations.

Instead of telling Mr. DeSantis to “get out of the way,” Mr. Biden should invite him to the White House and award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for standing up to — Mr. Biden.

• Rowan Scarborough is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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