Warning against “Covid authoritarianism” in a speech Friday night to the Common Sense Society, Gov. Ron DeSantis invoked Dwight Eisenhower in his latest cautionary tale.
In his presidential farewell speech, Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex having an outsized role. The Governor wanted to highlight a secondary message, however.
“Think what we’ve seen the past couple of years, it brings back an old admonition that was made by President Eisenhower in his farewell address. Not about the military-industrial complex, which is what that speech is most famous for. But in that same speech, Eisenhower talked about how government was more involved with funding scientific research and how there was a danger that public policy could be hijacked by a scientific and technological elite.”
The Governor also spread his criticism to Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been a subject of right-wing criticism and even conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He warned against that. He said that the job of a statesman is not to allow policy to be hijacked by people like Anthony Fauci. The job of a statesmanship is to harmonize all the competing interests of society, all the things that make society function and weave them in to a coherent policy,” DeSantis said.
“Florida heeded Ike’s admonition,” the Governor continued. “We protected people’s freedoms. And we kept our society functioning. And the result is we are better for it.”
The Eisenhower speech does indeed address scientific research, with the former President claiming in 1961 that a “steadily increasing share is conducted for, by or at the direction of, the federal government.”
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite,” Eisenhower warned, before asserting the role of the statesman that DeSantis cited.
“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system, ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society,” Eisenhower contended.
The Governor’s remarks were part of the right-of-center Common Sense Society‘s gala event Friday night at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach. The event included remarks from other conservative pundits, including Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Common Sense Society Trustee Professor Niall Ferguson.
The group was originally founded in Hungary in 2009, and bills itself as “an international network that promotes liberty, prosperity, and beauty—aspirational ideas that are indispensable to human flourishing and happiness.”