In contrast to his 2019 inaugural speech warning against “tribalism” and striking unifying tones, Ron DeSantis‘ speech Tuesday had an entirely different vibe.
“Florida is where woke goes to die,” DeSantis said, a tone unusual when compared to not just DeSantis’ first inaugural remarks in 2019, but also to those of the past. However, it was consistent with his swashbuckling remarks during press conferences since Joe Biden was elected President.
He celebrated himself, decried his opposition, and avoided references to past Governors in remarks that described Florida as “freedom’s linchpin,” a bulwark against oppression elsewhere.
“So many states in the country grinded their citizens down,” DeSantis said. “Here in Florida, we lifted our people up.”
During a roughly 16-minute speech, DeSantis embraced the culture war persona increasingly familiar to national audiences since Donald Trump left the White House. His remarks likewise seemed targeted to markets beyond Tallahassee and the “Free State of Florida,” striking combative tones and establishing a deliberate contrast between this so-called “citadel of freedom” and the “threats to freedom” that loom elsewhere.
Though he avoided denunciations of “Fauci-ism” and did not mention President Biden by name, the framing of the second inaugural address was equal parts celebration of the first term and anticipation of what’s to come, in Tallahassee and possibly beyond.
“We choose to navigate the boisterous sea of liberty rather than cower in the calm docks of despotism. We face attacks. We take hits. But we weather the storms,” DeSantis said.
The Governor offered warnings, were they needed, for “interest groups” in the K-12 school system and the dangerous allure of “trendy ideologies” in colleges and universities, offering assurances that Florida would remain a “promised land of sanity” against “faddish ideologies” that include “coddling criminals,” “medical authoritarianism,” and other “bizarre but pervasive ideologies.”
These include “identity essentialism,” DeSantis noted.
“We reject this woke ideology. We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy,” DeSantis said. “We will never surrender to the woke mob.”
While DeSantis had little to say about the federal government four years ago, the Biden White House and its legislative abettors featured in his remarks, with the Governor saying Florida’s success was “made more difficult” by the “floundering federal establishment in Washington.”
DeSantis cited issues with inflationary spending, pandemic restrictions, “open borders,” the federal energy policy, and a “sprawling, unaccountable, out-of-touch bureaucracy that does not act on behalf of us but instead looms over us and imposes its will upon us.”
Conscious of the negativity of these remarks, DeSantis shifted his tone shortly before the 13-minute mark toward an aspirational close.
“Florida is proof positive that we the people are not destined for failure. Decline is a choice. Success is attainable. And freedom is worth fighting for.”
DeSantis had little to say Tuesday about his specific 2023 agenda. But these remarks may end up being more salient for those watching and wondering if DeSantis will enter the crowded race for President, a decision that would have to come this year.