Governor DeSantis and His Consolidation of Power

Updated: May 9

In their seminal book, “How Democracies Die,” Levitsky & Ziblatt discuss the critical moves contemporary authoritarian strongmen have used to consolidate their power. Be they Erdogan, Orban, Maduro, Fujimori, or Chavez, they made the legislature subservient to them, co-opted the Courts to sanction their laws, punished large businesses to silence their opposition, and created populist chaos by pitting groups against each other to distract and dissipate the unification of power groups against them.

Here in the not-so-free “State of Florida,” Governor DeSantis did exactly what the world’s strongmen did to consolidate their power: the impotence of the legislature allowed the Governor to dictate the election map and influence appointments to the Court; pitted citizens against each other with culture war legislation, including book banning; punished the largest employer in Florida for criticizing his legislation; eliminated authority and threatened to punish local government agencies who oppose his policies; created a personal police force; and instituted voter suppression legislation to make it harder for his critics to vote. When you go to vote for Governor in November, look at the totality of Governor DeSantis’s actions vis-à-vis Maduro, Chavez, and Orban imposing populist authoritarianism.

Letter to the Editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune May 8, 2022 by Alan Sprintz, former Board Member, Longboat Key Democratic Club

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