Governor Ron DeSantis is doing his best to crush academic freedom and the expression of views that differ from his own. He won a sweeping re-election victory in 2022, and his party has a super-majority in both houses of the legislature. Whatever DeSantis wants, the legislature will give him.

But that’s not enough. The Democratic Party is powerless and supine, but they have the nerve to speak out against the Governor’s authoritarian policies. He can’t tolerate any nay-sayers.

Fabiola Santiago, a journalist for the Miami Herald, wrote with incredulity about the GOP’s fascist ambitions:

Now, I can truly affirm that I have seen it all in Gov. DeSantis’ Florida.

The state’s Republican Party is no longer a fan of multiparty American democracy — and they feel no shame in saying so in public. Nor in proposing legislation to dismantle it.

When the Florida GOP’s tweet appeared on my Twitter news feed, I thought it was a joke or a parody. But what Republicans are up to this legislative season is no laughing matter.

After easily winning the gubernatorial election and obtaining a Republican super-majority in the Legislature that allows the party to act unimpeded, GOP chairman Chris M. Ziegler says he’ll take nothing less than eradicating the Democratic Party. His threat to give Democrats no seat at all at the table is very real.

Republicans are acting like the hemisphere’s evil regimes. They know it, but don’t care.

On February 25, 2023, at 11:30 a.m., the chairman of the Florida GOP, Chris Ziegler, posted a tweet @FloridaGOP in which he wrote:

from Chairman @ChrisMZiegler: “Until we get every Democrat out of office and no Democrat considers running for office, we’re going to continue to step on the gas and move forward in Florida.”

Chris Ziegler’s wife Bridget is the founder of the extremist group Moms for Liberty, which is deeply involved in protests against masks, in book banning, in fighting “critical race theory,” and in attacking gays and the teaching of Black history.

Santiago continues:

The U.S. Constitution and the system of checks and balances be damned. There was immediate pushback on Twitter.

A person identifying as @k_kojei answered Ziegler: “I disagree. We need dissenting voices. That’s what a democracy is about. The problem is not helped by a one-sided view of things. Polarization is just that, no matter who does it! There has to be dialog and balance or we remain only half represented!”

Ziegler doubled down.

“We are doing just fine not giving Democrats a seat at the table in Florida,” he said, mimicking what the planet’s dictators, who think countries are their personal fiefdoms, say about the opposition.

“I recommend other states to do the same!”

More people enter the conversation, at first, remarkably civil in tone, given the sewer speech Twitter attracts.

Some of the horrified were Republican.

“That is extreme and Totalitarian by definition. Not a good look!” tweeted a man who describes himself as a “patriot” with “a recently restored account after two years. Starting from scratch. Unapologetically Conservative American!! #MAGA

“No, it’s DEMOCRACY!” retorts Ziegler, the kind of Florida man who lives in an alternate universe, and so dumb — or sure of his party’s power — that he accuses the Republicans who disagree with him of being “leftist.”

Finally, a ‘fighting for our republic” Floridian from the Treasure Coast brings a fitting hashtag to the conversation — #FloridaWhereFreedomDies. She posts a checklist of tactics Nazis used in their rise to power.

It’s eerily familiar, but nothing new to those of us who have visited museums in Israel and Germany. It all begins with religious, ethnic and lifestyle persecution, silencing the media and obliterating political opposition.

The Florida GOP and DeSantis’ ballyhooed platform is ticking off a whole lot of unimaginably undemocratic boxes.



Pictured in this April 14, 2017 photo, Christian Ziegler, 33, a marketing professional from Sarasota, has become the Florida GOP chairman going into the 2024 presidential race. He made the constitutionally questionable vow to eradicate Florida’s Democratic Party and defended a one-party state. (AP Photo/Tamara Lush)

Legislator files bill

Unfortunately, talk is only the beginning.

Destroying the Democratic Party is no empty threat.

As if the new GOP chairman acting like a two-bit Third World dictator-wannabe wasn’t egregious enough, his words were quickly followed by legislative action.

Former GOP chairman, Blaise Ingoglia, 2015-2019, threw the law behind Ziegler’s words.

Now Ingoglia, a 52-year-old Spring Hills home builder — named one of Tampa Bay’s most influential politicians — filed Tuesday “The Ultimate Cancel Act,” SB 1248, creating the conditions to force the Division of Elections to declare the Democratic Party illegal in Florida.

Reading the dangerous gobbledygook contained in Ingoglia’s bill is an exercise similar to interpreting Cuba’s repressive laws, where the bureaucratic entwining of edicts achieves the goal of making the repression look reasonable to the outside world.

Ingoglia has concocted a ruse: Rule the Democratic Party racist, claiming it’s because Southern Democrats supported slavery in the 1800s, and order it dismantled the way Confederate monuments are forced to come down.

His legal maneuvering is purely a power trip. Sad to say, but it’s unnecessary. The inept Florida Democrats, the 2020 midterms showed, aren’t a serious political threat.

The GOP, however, should scare every Floridian — and, given DeSantis’ 2024 ambitions, every American. We’re just a stepping stone.

The Florida GOP is DeSantis’ party. Nothing happens behind his back. This hardened, fascist Florida is a carefully planned, if sometimes stupidly executed, plot to destroy the United States as we know it.

This isn’t unlike the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in 2021, only the men leading the charge are in suits instead of camouflage.

What institution will defend Floridians from tyranny when the GOP has so cleverly staged a takeover of every sector in the state?

Emboldened Florida Republicans aren’t happy with simply winning by big margins.

They want what every dictator has: total domination over what people think, whom they love, what they read. Total political control over law and policy without organized opposition to offer an alternative.

Floridians must wake up. It’s imperative.

The author Fabiola Santiago

None of this is happening without DeSantis’s knowledge and support. It sounds insane and fascist, but it is real. Ron DeSantis shows his true colors.