What’s going on with the state of Florida?
I think the far right is taking over. The legislature has lost its relevance. He does whatever Governor Ron DeSantis wants. The judiciary is no longer independent. Judges are replaced by members of the right-wing Society of Federalists. DeSantis excels at removing the checks and balances that make democracy work. He goes out of his way to make Donald Trump look reasonable by comparison.
When the far right comes to power, I believe they start their agenda by choosing a group of people to hate. Usually this group has previously been integrated into the population and consists of respectable citizens who do no harm to anyone. But the first step to dominance is populist hate speech so that people outside the hated group feel that whatever their grievances may be, the hated group is to blame. The Nazis chose the Jews to hate. It appears that the governor of Florida has chosen the LGBT community and successfully persuaded his minions in the Legislature to pass laws that would marginalize them. This is just the beginning.
In my opinion, the far right will not stop at hating the LGBT community. They will find another target once the “perverts” are driven out of Florida. It could be black people; it may be Jews; it will certainly be the Democrats, because one of the goals of the far right seems to be the elimination of the two-party system.
Other goals to be achieved include the complete takeover of the judiciary, including the right to appoint and remove judges and prosecutors at will; redistribution of constituencies to eliminate the Democratic Party; by repealing the constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to privacy to Florida citizens, and expanding the powers of the police to combat voter fraud to include voting booth surveillance (and giving them nice uniforms).
The far right will not need to amend the Florida Constitution to achieve their goals. They will simply learn a lesson from Ancient Rome.
The Roman Republic was organized in such a way as to minimize the number of people with too much power. The Romans feared the return of the kings. The executive power in the Roman Republic consisted not of one, but of two consuls, who served only one year and had to act through the Roman Senate. There was an official who represented the people of Rome, called a tribune. He had veto power over the actions of senators and there were no provisions to override his veto.
The Roman Republic ended with Augustus Caesar, a benevolent despot who made no changes to the polity: he simply ignored it.
It was reported that when Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall after the signing of the new Constitution, a woman asked him, “You gave us a monarchy or a republic.” Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Two truisms must be added to this:
1. Democratic play is best played between the 40-yard lines; and 2. It doesn’t matter to me whether the right or the far left will seize power. You will end up in the same prison. It’s just that the extreme right has a prettier shape.
O. H. Eaton, Jr. is a retired District Judge who served in the Seminole County Court for 24 years.