DATELINE FLORIDA: When All Else Fails, Blame the Immigrants
By J.C. Bruce
There’s an internet meme showing the state of Michigan in pastel shades of yellow and blue contrasted with Florida in glaring fire-engine red. The images are juxtaposed with mugshots of the governors of the respective states.
The idea is to contrast how the Democrat in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, is doing a superior job of managing the coronavirus epidemic than her Republican Florida counterpart, Ron DeSantis.
And there’s no question that the Sunshine State is the reddest virus hotspot in the nation. With less than 7 percent of America’s population, it is home to a full 20 percent of COVID-19 cases, hospitals are nearly full (elective surgeries are being cancelled), and this past week’s new infection numbers topped that of any previous outbreak highs.
So why is Michigan doing better than Florida?
Clearly, it’s because it has fewer Mexican immigrants.
Or so DeSantis suggests.
It is pathetic, of course, that our nation’s response to a deadly disease outbreak has become so politicized. You would think that if there were one thing politicians across the spectrum could agree on it would be protecting American citizens from this threat.
Well, you might think that, but you would be wrong. Actually, the one thing you can count on politicians doing is not putting you and your family first but, rather, putting their own self interest at the top of the list.
In Florida, DeSantis is gambling (with school children’s lives as the poker chips) that his attempts to block the return to mask wearing in classrooms will play well with the state’s Trump supporters and work toward his 2022 re-election ambitions. Never mind the potential casualties.
Which helps explain why he was so defensive this week when President Joe Biden pleaded with him to “get out of the way” of school districts trying to protect their students. This following DeSantis’ announcement that he planned to cut state funding to any schools that required masks.
DeSantis, a counterpuncher like his idol, Trump, shot back that Biden has “imported more virus from around the world by having a wide open southern border.”
Let us pause a moment for a geography and mathematics lesson:
While is is true that Florida’s coastline borders on the Gulf of Mexico, the distance by highway to the nearest actual border crossing in Mexico is more than 850 miles. Virus-infected Mexican immigrants would have to first climb the wall Trump had Mexico pay for, traverse a huge swath of the Lone Star State, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama before reaching Florida’s most westward outpost, Pensacola.
Last week, Florida reported an 84 percent increase in coronavirus cases. The CDC said Florida had 23,903 new cases today alone, a new record.
Yet there have been no reports of armies of disease stricken Mexicans staggering across the state line breathing on innocents.
There have, however, been actual, verifiable reports of DeSantis doing everything in his power to hornswoggle Floridians into believing his coronavirus response has been a huge success. And he has consistently tried to block implementation of recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control that would in any way undercut this fantasy he tries to project.
Now, in all fairness, a lot of politicians have been caught flat-footed by the recent coronavirus surge powered by the new and more highly contagious Delta variant. Biden, in a July Fourth Rose Garden celebration, declared “the virus no longer controls our lives.”
Well, not so fast, Joe. No doubt, he wishes he could take that one back.
And the public might be equally forgiving of DeSantis if he would simply say, well, hell, I got it wrong.
But, no, when the facts don’t match your make-believe world, it is standard operating procedure in politics to find scapegoats, to switch attention from the real problem to an imaginary boogeyman.
Blaming immigrants is a time-proven strategy, a surefire hit if your political base is largely rural and white. So, no surprise that was DeSantis’ default distraction tactic.
But DeSantis may be enjoying this tit-for-tat mud-slinging contest with Biden too much, while relishing the national media spotlight that has been shining on him.
But DeSantis, never accused of being the brightest bulb in the governor’s mansion chandelier, has deeply miscalculated.
Playing a Trump Mini-Me can only get you so far, even in Florida. Now the health and even lives of children are on the line with his cynical disregard for–actually, assault on–their safety.
J.C. Bruce is a journalist and author
living in Naples. His mystery series,
The Strange Files, is available at all
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