Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Imperial Presidency?

Pema Levy in Mother Jones recalls that last August, Florida governor Ron DeSantis removed elected county prosecutor Andrew Warren, a federal judge ruled unconstitutional.  Moreover

Warren is not the only local elected official DeSantis has targeted. He’s booted school board members, an election supervisor, and a sheriff—all Democrats. DeSantis has turned the power of the state against political opponents, businesses that transgress his orthodoxy, and the education system and universities that serve as liberal bulwarks against illiberal rulers. DeSantis breeds fear of vulnerable groups for political advantage. As part of this politics of reprisal, he is imposing a uniform ideology upon Florida: anti-queer, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, and patriarchal, through laws banning discussion of gender identity, systemic racism, and sexism. The “Free State of Florida,” he likes to say, “is where woke goes to die.” But his rhetoric scrambles reality. In fact, DeSantis has stoked a fear of wokeism to strip freedoms and amass power.

To stifle dissent, in 2021 DeSantis signed a law that would ramp up penalties for rioting but that civil rights groups warned would ensnare peaceful protesters; this spring he pushed legislation to unleash speech-­chilling lawsuits against news outlets.

Unsurprisingly, a Twitter debate has emerged over whether DeSantis would be a more authoritarian President than would Donald Trump if the latter were elected.  It's probably a close call, or at least almost impossible to determine now.

Aside from being a right-winger and would-be authoritarian, there may be an additional similarity between the Florida governor and the ex-President. Besides the habit of whining which binds the two men, it seems DeSantis would like to be a king.

Fashion magazine? If she became First Lady, Casey DeSantis would be the wife of the President of the United States of America, and her fashion sense would be irrelevant. Casey would not be a queen and Ron would not be a king- though it seems he'd like to be treated as one.

Obviously, this is another GOP complaint about Republicans being treated unfairly by the the meanies in the media. As usual, it is specious. Jill Biden dresses simultaneously fashionable and tasteful, yet isn't feted by a media which appears to believe that Ukraine, crime, immigration, the economy, education, the current budget battle and a whole lot of other issues are far more important.

I believe Mrs. Biden presents an excellent image for a First Lady, made at least a little more difficult because, unlike Mrs. DeSantis, she is not a youthful 42 years of age. Or perhaps you disagree, believing that Casey is the epitome of uplifting elegance while Jill fails to enhance her appearance.

But that would be the point: it doesn't matter, or at least it shouldn't.  The wives of the President are important only insofar as they influence the actions or statements of their husbands. We get caught up in this country obsessing, occasionally negatively and usually positively, about the First Lady, whomever she is.  Apparently, it is is considered feminist, or at least not misogynistic, to be so interested in details of a woman because of whom she is married to.

We had this with Melania Trump and still have it with Michelle Obama, neither of whom ever have, or will, run for public office, nor probably ever serve as a government employee. That's the life they've chosen for themselves and good for them, and especially for Jill Biden, who does not draw attention away from the actual leader of the Free World. 

We should hope that, in the unfortunate (and very unlikely) circumstance that Ron DeSantis becomes President, he does not suffer uncontrollably if his subjects do not think of him as King and his wife as Queen. An imperial presidency would not be ideal.


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