Ruth Ben-Ghiat analyzes how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ used the Special Olympics to send an authoritarian message to voters.
DeSantis threatened the Special Olympics (pause and let those words sink in) with a $27.5 million fine if the organization did not revoke its vaccine mandate. It doesn’t matter to DeSantis that mandate is in place to protect the vulnerable people who compete.
Ben-Ghiat explains how this fits within a pattern of DeSantis deploying the traits of an authoritarian leader:
Such individuals also love to engage in the autocrat game of “making an example” of people or entities that other politicians might not touch due to their size, influence or popularity. The point of this game is to show that no one is above being punished by them.
This is why, along with the usual GOP targets (the LBGTQ community, Blacks, and immigrants) we find DeSantis going after the Special Olympics. That’s not the move you make if you care about being seen as decent, but it’s the move you make if you want to be feared. (emphasis in original)
DeSantis is a favorite for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination, especially if Donald Trump does not run again. He is showing us who he is. He is showing us what the Republican Party has become. The danger to our democracy isn’t just about one former president and his group of close followers. An entire section of our country is supporting it.