Well it is official: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is running for the Republican nomination for president.
NBC News confirms he will file the paperwork and make a formal announcement next week and of course this is not a surprise.
It has been widely anticipated because, for months, DeSantis has been hitting the donor circuit and the early campaign trail, making appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire, and in fact, he has turned his entire governing agenda in Florida into a kind of set piece for his presidential campaign.
He has been waging a culture war on his own constituents for the purpose of elevating himself. It’s a very clear and coherent strategy.
While Ron DeSantis tours around the country promoting himself and his new memoir titled, “The Courage to be Free” at home, he runs a government based on the opposite of freedom.
His agenda is about State Authority and its punitive use and decrees from on high.
In Florida, he is running a kind of little MAGA kingdom in which Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party in the state legislature with their big majorities tell you how to live your life, and you don’t get to choose.
Now, we’re hearing the word authoritarian a lot more these days in the wake of the first-ever attempt to overturn American democracy particularly.
We use it on the show. Donald Trump encourages those authoritarian impulses and Ron DeSantis has stoked them.
He’s put them into practice.
But I think the discussion about the threat of authoritarianism can sometimes feel almost, a little remote, or academic.
That word has a certain kind of historical timbre to it.
We associate the term with, like, stern historical figures like Stalin or Mussolini, and that can make it hard to look at ‘Mr. Puddin-fingers’ yucking it up on the campaign trail in Iowa and see an authoritarian.
But Ron DeSantis really is running on an authoritarian agenda.
Policies he has enacted in Florida, are the opposite of freedom, to me.
The opposite of core American values because in Ron DeSantis’ Florida, the State will decide what books your child can or cannot read in their school library by threatening teachers and librarians with time in prison if they do not comply with vague laws about instruction on race, gender, and sexuality.
The State will decide what women can do with their own bodies by banning abortion at six weeks.
Of course, that is for all intents and purposes a complete abortion ban, which means that Ron DeSantis and the Republican party of Florida control the bodies of every Floridian who can get pregnant.
It’s their body, not yours.
The State will also decide how you can dress in public, which costumes you can wear, by enacting what is essentially a full ban on drag performances that will also likely restrict Pride events.
The State will decide what kind of speech corporations can engage in, including which criticism they can make of the government, by going after Disney punitively for speaking out against anti-LGBTQ laws.
That fight has become quite notorious; blew up to the point that Disney announced today it’s abandoning a one-billion dollar planned development in Florida.
We’ll see what sort of reprisals the state wages against that company, but Ron DeSantis’ dystopian authoritarian vision is most apparent in the legislation he just signed yesterday.
It bans all gender-affirming care, for all minors in Florida.
Everyone 18 and younger.
That law also empowers state courts to change custody agreements if a child is receiving, or is at risk of receiving, gender-affirming care, meaning, taking a kid away from a parent.
Telling parents how they can, or cannot, raise their own children is among the most authoritarian things the government can do.
And now, that is exactly what Ron DeSantis and the Republican party in Florida, and generally the conservative movement that endorses this, are doing.
Purely for ideological and punitive purposes.
Now the sick irony here; the one that I just can’t get over and really kind of sticks with me, is that the right-wing movement that gave us this new law signed yesterday is the very same group of people that screamed about parental rights for years amidst the pandemic.
“I get to say whether my kid wears a mask.”
“I get to say whether my kid gets vaccinated.”
“I get to say whether my kid goes to school.”
And Ron DeSantis was the public face of that movement:[DeSantis speaking about Biden] He wants to have the government FORCE kindergartners to wear masks in school.
He doesn’t believe that parents should have a say in that.
He thinks that should be a decision for the government.
Well, I can tell you, in Florida, the parents are going to be the ones in charge of that decision.
Joe Biden suggests that if you don’t do lockdown policies then you should quote, ‘get out of the way,’ but let me tell you this:
If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way.
I’m not going to let you get away with it.[endquote][Chris Hayes] What a tough guy! You see all that swagger? He’s gonna stand in your way if you’re coming after parental rights; if you try to tell a parent what they can do with their kids.
That very same wing of the Republican Party embodied by Ron DeSantis and the government of the State of Florida has now demanded and produced a situation in which the government that guy you saw there with the tough guy swagger about freedom, is going to decide if your child–who lives in your home–that you gave birth to, or raised; that you love, your kid, what kind of care they can get.
HE decides care that, to be clear, the American Academy of Pediatrics supports and recommends.
Think about what this means.
Right now, as I’m speaking to you, their parents and families in Florida, who have decided as a family, as parents along with their doctors, that this healthcare, gender-affirming care, is the best care for their kids.
You may not like it, but you know what?
It’s none of your, excuse me, goddamn business!
To me, that is what the courage to be free means.
FREEDOM means that, in my household, our family decides what kind of healthcare our child does or does not get, not Ron DeSantis.
Not the Republican Party.
But that is no longer the case in Florida.[DeSantis speaking]I think this is something that–we just made the decision, as a state, and me as Governor, to just say, ‘You know? We’re protecting kids. And we’re going to protect kids when it’s popular.
We’ll protect kids even when you take some incoming as a result of, maybe, offending some ideologies, or some agendas out there.
But, that’s fine, we’re happy to do that.
Because this is important.[endquote][Chris Hayes] They’re happy to tell you whether you can get an abortion, whether you can give birth or not.
The government of Florida, via Ron DeSantis…
THEY made that decision for you.
THEY made the decision about your child’s healthcare.
THEY decided the kind of care your child can receive…
probably knows pretty well, right, what’s best for your 13 year-old?
The one that lives in your house.
Their courts could decide to take that child away from you if you violate their rules, their ideology.
As a parent, I cannot think of anything more horrifying or un-American than that.
And yet, it is going to be the centerpiece of Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign.
[Congressman Bowman’s exchange with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene]
We’re accepting them. We love them. We love the migrant children
[Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene] –maybe lost them! You can’t find them!
[Congressman Bowman] What are you talking about? Yeah, no, no, we don’t know, I don’t know…that’s Fox News!
[Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene] –yelling, shouting, raising his voice…he has aggressive. His physical mannerisms were aggressive and I am concerned about–I feel threatened by him.
[Chris Hayes] That ‘Congressman Bowman’ is here with me now to respond to those accusations from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
He has been menacing me during the entire commercial break (laughing), I should note that my–full disclosure–I worked for you.
[Congressman Bowman] He no longer does but…
[Chris Hayes] I, well, what do you want to say to that?
[Congressman Bowman] Oh my goodness, I mean, it’s so nonsensical that it’s comical.
You can see clearly in the video that we were, like, playfully jousting with each other.
She was laughing, I was laughing, we were talking about each other’s party and, sort of, issues.
So the demeanor and the disposition, you know, on the steps, it was playful.
We were going after each other.
So, for her the next morning to say what she said, I mean, it’s a complete 180.
Number one, it’s no longer comical now because, now, you are using historical racist tropes toward black men.
“menacing,” “his mannerisms,” “I’m afraid” … that’s the stuff that got, you know, Trayvon Martin killed; Tamir Rice killed; Michael Brown killed…
I mean, I believe Officer Darren Smith literally talked about his presence and his strength as an excuse for killing him and this has happened to black men historically.
And so, now, we’re in a dangerous space and that’s why I wanted to be really, really clear to reporters today, how reckless and dangerous her statements were.
And she should know better.
I believe she knows better.
This is another reason why we need to teach the accurate history of America in our schools and make sure African-American history is a part of that.
Because her rhetoric and her behavior in Congress, outside, of me, pictures with the AR-15, with the squad behind her, chasing David Hogg and stalking him as he engaged in activism around gun violence.
Her rhetoric, her language, her behavior, has been aggressive and intimidating since she’s gotten into Congress.
Now she’s trying to just place it onto me.
[Chris Hayes] I want to say also that, if this gesture which you were doing is aggressive, then I’m the–all of my paisans’ gestures–that’s New York City right there.
It’s New York City.
I mean, the other thing–to get to your serious point–I don’t want to…
[Congressman Bowman] … quite a bit. I mean, what I thought was, well, if she had said this without the video…like, we had the video, right?
So you could look at the videos, like, this is ridiculous…but when someone’s just like, ‘This black man is intimidating and physically aggressive,’ I mean, yeah.
That’s a serious thing to say in the society in which we live, and have lived, for a long time.
Yeah, and it could have real consequences.
Again, throughout American history, and not just about black men, but women of color as well and, you know, when I first got to Congress and I had my first conversation with the squad…remember they were coming off of Donald Trump.
They would talk about the number of death threats they would receive after Trump would say something about them. ‘Send them back,’ or something like that.
The rise in death threats, having to increase security…
So this is dangerous territory we’re walking in here.
We have got to be very clear about that and we need her to say, on the record…
One, she should apologize to me. On the record uh to ask her directly, ‘Do you want physical violence to be inflicted upon Congressman Bowman?’ and let her answer that question.
Because, at the end of her statement it was, ‘We need to watch him.’
That’s almost like Donald Trump, you know, ‘Stand By and stand back’ to the Proud Boys in that debate a couple of years ago.
‘We need to watch him,’ what are you saying?!
Like, it’s just–it’s crazy!
And again, this is why we have to teach history accurately.
So we can all be more enlightened as we govern.
[Chris Hayes] I want to ask you about–you know, we played the tape of you and Thomas Massey and you had that exchange.
[Congressman Bowman] Yeah, she said I shoved him, which I didn’t.
[Chris Hayes] Clearly you didn’t. Obviously, you know, like…Yes, it would be news if Congressman Jamal Bowman shoved Thomas Massey.
I saw that in the tape and I thought, ‘Wait a second. No, what’s the deal with these interactions?
Like, is this a thing you’re doing now?
Is it just in the moment?
What’s it–is this–are you, like, this is–I am doing this as a tactical thing?
Or, I can’t help myself, you know what it is.
It’s literally–it’s organic.
It just happens.
[Congressman Bowman] So the Massey thing…I wasn’t yelling at him.
I was yelling at journalists to ask Republicans about their vouchers.
And then he walked up–and then that became a thing.
With Byron Donalds, we usually like to talk about sports as we walk down the steps.
I saw them approach him to ask him about the scientists, so I started like going at it, like, ‘Yeah, I want to hear what you have to say.’
It’s really just who I am, in terms of how I talk to people on a consistent basis.
So it’s not really a thing that’s become a thing and I get a lot of questions on this confrontational style and I’m like, ‘I don’t mean to be that way,’ however I am extremely frustrated consistently by the lack of action in Congress and how everyone is all about decorum and kids are dying every day from gun violence and one in five children go to bed hungry and we have all of these issues and we don’t have the sense of urgency to do something about it.
And people in our districts want us to do something about it.
So it’s authentically me, but at the same time, it’s like, okay? This place is obtuse. It takes way too long to do anything and I’m not a lifelong politician or lawyer or business person. I’m not rich. I’m an educator, so I’m coming in with that energy and hopefully we can get stuff done.
[Chris Hayes] Let me ask you all about that gun violence question, because this is something that I–so I’m obsessed with this point.
If you talk about violent crime, right, then the right will talk about violent crime all the time and they want to run ads and Democrats like you and ‘libs’ are ‘soft’ and violent crime.
The second you call it ‘gun violence,’ which is the most serious violent crime we have in the U.S, unquestionably, it’s the most dangerous form of violent crime, all of a sudden, like, the political violence gets flipped and it’s, like, ‘Well, there’s really nothing we can do about gun violence.’
Violent crime: we got cops, all this stuff.
Gun violence: you know what’s going to happen.
It’s so strange to me how much–it’s the same thing, like, it is the same thing!
Like, America has too much gun violence.
It has too much violence.
It has too many homicides, too many people die from this.
We need to bring that number down.
[Congressman Bowman] That’s right. Yeah, I mean, included in a totally different way, it’s bizarre! And it’s why Congress is often, like, upside down world.
And Republicans will say these things, many of the–many have supporters, what they say–many of their supporters–what would they say?
And what I want for our party to do is push back and take back the narrative and be very clear on what we’re talking about.
Do not acquiesce or seed ground to their talking points, because we feel we need to be tougher on crime.
Talk about Public Safety. Yeah, talk about public health. I mean, you want to talk about poverty? Your principles–I saw kids coming to school every day hungry. Stressed. Frustrated, living in public housing and we stopped investing in–of course those kids are more likely to get in trouble in school! Because we’re not meeting their basic needs!
So, I want our party to talk about that and take back the narrative when it comes to that.
And they have no moral ground to stand on on that issue, well, at all.
And that’s why we’ve got to use it to win big in 2024.
Not just in the house, but the Senate.
[Chris Hayes] Man, for sure, yeah. And there’s a bunch of New York reps that are going to be on the front lines of that and maybe, who knows, maybe it’ll be a George Santos vacancy as well.
We’ll see where that ends up.
Congressman Jamal Bowman, great to have you here.
[Congressman Bowman] Thank you. Good to see you.
[Chris Hayes] Thank you.