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Who wants to live in the United States of Florida?

Over the course of the past three years, Florida has become both a lightning rod and a rallying cry for millions of Americans.   

As with just about everything else in the “Age of Trump” and the “Age of COVID,” the interpretation of what Florida may mean to those millions of people has become politicized and polarizing. This is especially true now that Gov. Ron DeSantis is viewed as a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president next year.  

To be sure, millions of Americans believe that Florida, under DeSantis, became a beacon of hope and sanity during the pandemic, when media hype, crass politics, panic and confusion swept the nation. As Democratic-led states pushed draconian lockdowns, school closures, the shuttering of businesses, onerous mask mandates, and the shaming of those who dared to question such harsh edicts, DeSantis seemed to find the correct balance and turned Florida into a safe harbor during the COVID madness. 

Conversely, in our Age of Trump, when everyone seems to despise the “other side” no matter what, millions of other Americans no doubt viewed DeSantis as reckless for keeping Florida “open.” Some see him as a “Trump-like” policymaker with better manners.  

Against that backdrop, we must ask: Who believes that Florida, with the policies of DeSantis, should serve as a template for the rest of the nation? 

One person, for sure, is DeSantis himself. During his recent State of the State address, the governor emphasized, “We defied the experts. We bucked the elites. We ignored the chatter. We did it our way. And the result is that we are the number one destination for our fellow Americans who are looking for a better life.” 

In a sign that he is pondering a presidential run, DeSantis just released his political memoir, “The Courage to be Free.” 

Most such memoirs tend to fail, but his has not. It shot to No. 1 on Amazon upon publication and stayed in the top spot for days. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Amazon recalibrates its bestsellers list hourly. And, just over a week after its release, the memoir has become one of the bestselling books of the year to date. 

The book is subtitled: “Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.” So, not only does it serve as a potential foundation for a DeSantis presidential campaign, but some may also see it as trumping Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

In some ways, part of the copy from the jacket cover tells you all you need to know, regardless of your opinion of Florida or DeSantis: “A firsthand account from the blue-collar boy who grew up to take on Disney and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, ‘The Courage to Be Free’ delivers something rare from an elected leader: stories of victory. This book is a winning blueprint for patriots across the country. And it is a rallying cry for every American who wishes to preserve our liberties.” 

Indeed, for some it will serve as the rallying cry and blueprint to save America. For others, it will be the manifesto of a candidate who is reviled by the left, the elites, and many in the liberal mainstream media.  

There is no doubt that if DeSantis does run for the White House, his main argument will boil down to: “Do you want our nation to look more like the failing states of California and New York, or do you want to live in the ‘United States of Florida’?” 

Should he run, DeSantis will give voters a clear-cut choice. We will soon know if the California or Florida template wins out. 

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.

Tags 2024 presidential race blue states Florida lockdowns mask mandates Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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