Barbara Hill: Democracy is dissension, Mr. DeSantis

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Each Sunday, the Daily Commercial has included a column “from the right” and one “from the left.” This is what is great about our country — we are free to express our opinions without being chastised or being thrown in jail — after all, dissension is democracy in action.

This is a right under the First Amendment to the Constitution that is enshrined in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …” So, this is my week to express my concerns for the wellbeing of our republic, and that starts right here in our home state of Florida.

First, I am “woke.” Know what it means? “Woke” means social awareness, being alert to social issues, racism, discrimination and injustice, so it doesn’t bother me to be called woke, and I wear that label proudly.

What am I “woke” about? DeSantis’ thought police, elections police (is he going to send them to the Villages?), the banning of books his “mothers” don’t like, taking revenge on folks who disagree with him and his following. Remember his buddy Randy Fine, who gave out the private information of a female school board member and then called her a “whore” because she encouraged masks in the classroom? Did DeSantis say it was improper? No. Did the legislature censure him? No.

This is the government you voted for, and it is disgraceful. He took his “Don’t Say Gay” bill on the road and signed it at a charter school not subject to the unconstitutional law he passed. The GOP’s charter and voucher schools are not subject to the insane laws passed by this legislature and approved by DeSantis.

In fact, charter and voucher schools have very little regulation, so you “Mothers for Liberty” might want to take a look at them and the fact that anyone with a high school diploma (or not) can work there without a background check. Banned books? Don’t like them, don’t read them. Someone else might be interested in reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Bluest Eye.”

For more than the past 20 years, the Florida GOP actively engaged in destroying public education because they can’t make money from public education and money is a major requirement for our power- and money-hungry legislature. Every election cycle they dream up “dog whistles” their base will like, then keep blowing the whistles to keep Floridians’ attention from the real problems Florida is facing — rising property insurance, rising gun violence, climate change, contaminated waters killing our manatees and fish, and the list goes on.

DeSantis and his followers have shown through their actions that they are racist, homophobic, intolerant, vengeful and devoid of any empathy or sympathy, and don’t get me started as to how they view indigent people. Look at how he emboldened his legislative followers in Lake County. Sabatini made sure the North Lake Hospital District did not vote to add money for indigent care for the hospital district. The Hospital District Board didn't even discuss the issue, the fix was in. It was a sham board meeting. Now we have Keith Truenow, a legislative representative with financial interests in peat mining, trying to obtain permits he says will lead to “lake restoration.”

This is a bait and switch since Truenow is trying to eliminate the Lake County Water Authority since the Authority would question his motives and the ongoing project taking place on conservation lands in the Emeralda Marsh. Don’t fall for this nonsense.

What are my concerns? These are just a few. We all thought DeSantis would be a better steward of our environment, but he lied. He is running for re-election, but traveling all over the U.S. running for president, or should I say, he is running for “dictator in chief.”

Note, the last three years he has encouraged the passage of one unconstitutional law after another that he is defending with our taxpayer money (going into the millions). He forbade people to wear masks when more than 75,000 residents of Florida died from COVID-19, which he calls “COVID theater,” and now the country’s COVID death count is 1 million. Mr. DeSantis, get used to people disagreeing with you — democracy is dissension.

The Daily Commercial welcomes robust discussion, especially focusing on local issues to Lake and Sumter counties, from a broad variety of perspectives. If you would like to submit a column for consideration, please send it to letters@dailycommercial.com.

This article originally appeared on Daily Commercial: Barbara Hill: Democracy is dissension, Mr. DeSantis