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Gov. Ron DeSantis at NatCon3YouTube / screenshot

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – The Sunshine State’s approach to many of the most consequential issues of our time has been completely vindicated, as highlighted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a stirring keynote speech at the National Conservatism conference last night.

DeSantis emphasized Florida’s successful and data-driven approach to COVID-19, rejection of wokeness in education, refusal to be ruled by World Economic Forum elites who view ordinary people as “a bunch of peasants,” and willingness to use the power of government and public policy to protect basic freedoms from the tyranny of powerful corporations.

Corporations ‘doing the regime’s bidding’

“Corporatism is not the same as free enterprise,” DeSantis said. “I think too many Republicans have used limited government to basically mean whatever is best for corporate America is how we want to do the economy … Obviously, free enterprise is the best economic system, but that is a means to an end. It’s means to having a good, fulfilling life and a prosperous society. It’s not an end in and of itself.”

“We need to make sure … [that] the United States is a nation that has an economy, not the other way around.”

“Some of these big corporations are now exercising quasi-public power in terms of using their economic power to change policy in this country,” DeSantis warned. “You just saw what the credit card companies are going to try to do with the firearms,” referencing this week’s news that major credit card companies will be using a new merchant code to track gun sales.

“You’ve seen big Wall Street banks collude to deny financing to companies who may be involved in combating illegal immigration or firearms or things that they don’t like. You look at the movement for ESG, and all ESG is … an attempt to use corporate and economic power to impose an ideological agenda on society, an agenda that could not win at the ballot box,” continued DeSantis, who has been dubbed “America’s governor.” ESG refers to “environmental, social, and governance” standards that are embraced by much of the left and criticized by some on the right as the beginnings of an oppressive social-credit system.

“There are some people that criticize us in Florida because we’ve taken action to stand up to big tech companies,” he continued. “They say, you know what, it’s private. Let them do kind of what they want to do. First of all, they cannot be viewed as private entities, given that we know without a shadow of a doubt, they are doing the regime’s bidding when it comes to censorship.”

“From the minute you’re doing the government’s bidding, you’re essentially an arm of the state. And not only are you not, quote, private, you have to abide by the First Amendment,”  DeSantis asserted.

“But even if they weren’t formally colluding with the government, they are de facto the enforcement arm of regime narratives. They are trying to enforce an orthodoxy on this country.”

He slammed big tech “monopolies” that tell anyone who opposes them to just start their own pro-free companies and then promptly “kneecap” them.

“They will all come and kneecap you. … So we said, if these are big monopolies, they have a lot of power. They have more power over our society than the monopolies of the early 20th century ever did, because they control the digital public square [where] the majority of political speech now takes place. So what we said is, ‘OK, you can set your own rules. You know, you’re getting liability protection from the federal government because you say you’re not a publisher, so you’re not a publisher. You can set certain rules. But if you’re discriminating on the basis of viewpoint, when you’re doing those rules, you’re committing a fraud on the consumer because they signed up. You told them it was an open platform. You’re taking their data, you’re making a fortune of that.’ So we’re going to give that aggrieved Florida citizen the right to sue.”

“Can we act to prevent our citizens from getting crushed by these major monopolies?” DeSantis asked. “And they have an enormous amount of power over society. And so when people say, like, ‘oh, you’re using government in the private sector,’ what I’m doing is using government to give space to the individual citizens to be able to participate in society, to be able to speak his or her mind. And I think that’s an absolutely appropriate use of government power.”

“And so we’re going to continue to do that. And I think we’re going to get a good result eventually in the Supreme Court,” he predicted. “And I think it’s going to happen this year, maybe in [the] next year and a half. But to sit back and just do nothing while a bunch of Silicon Valley oligarchs are imposing an orthodoxy on this country which views all of us as second-class citizens – no, thank you. I’m not signing up for that.”

DeSantis also called for greater accountability within “the administrative state.”

“People talk about the deep state as some conspiracy,” he said. “It’s not a conspiracy. What we have right now is the logical result of having an absence of constitutional accountability in the administrative state. And basically what human nature will do. Of course, power is going to accumulate there.”

“When Brandon gave his speech the other day,” DeSantis said, using a conservative slang term for Biden, “when [he] was yelling in front of the blood red thing to me – I mean, I thought it was, of course, outrageous, but it was really just him verbalizing what they have been trying to do for the last many years.”

“All Biden did was verbalize what their actions has always been telling us … Their view of unity is that they’re in power and we don’t matter. And then you have unity because there’s no one else in the government or no one else in society that can wield effective power to check you or to stop you. And so [the left is] playing for keeps. This is not an easy fight because they have so much support across the commanding heights of society.”

‘You’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people flee’ to Florida

DeSantis began his speech by touting Florida’s massive economic and population growth over the past two years, noting the exodus of people moving from left-wing states like California, New Jersey, and New York. Florida has become a “promised land” for “record numbers of people” over the past few years.

“The statistics are startling,” he said. “Since COVID, there’s been more adjusted gross income moving to the state of Florida than has ever moved into any one state over a similar time period in American history.”

“Who are the states that are hemorrhaging? Well, California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey … you know the list,” he quipped. “Florida’s also led the nation in net in-migration since COVID. Who has lost people? Same cast of characters. California. New York. New Jersey. Illinois.”

California had never lost people in the history of its statehood “up until the last couple of years.”

“Again, you’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people flee.”

This exodus to Florida has a political character to it, DeSantis said, noting that a number of his supporters were concerned about the number people moving to Florida from left-wing states.

“When I got elected governor in 2018, there were close to 300,000 more registered Democrats in the state of Florida than Republicans. And prior to me becoming governor, we had never had more registered Republicans than Democrats in the history of the state of Florida,” he said. But “today, the latest numbers are we now have 271,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.”

On coronavirus, elites ‘got it wrong time and time again’

DeSantis roundly mocked nonsensical coronavirus measures such as “outdoor” dining in enclosed, poorly ventilated tents, and noted that ruling elites were wrong about a host of COVID topics.

“Part of what we’ve done is just exercise a little common sense. Just because the media and the elites are saying to do something, that does not mean it’s the right thing to do.”

Florida has “stood and kept our bearings about us. We also try to ground what we’re doing [in] core American principles. The founding principles of this country are enduring. They may apply differently at different times and in different faiths and different challenges. But those are principles that we continue to rely on in the state of Florida. We are not afraid to buck the discredited ruling class and elites in our country – and we did it during COVID, but we’ve done it time and time again across the board.”

“And then finally, when we’re standing for what’s right, you don’t get very far given all the things that are going on in our country, unless you’re willing to show a little backbone, unless you’re willing to stand your ground when it gets hot in the kitchen. And we have done that time and time again.”

From “a perspective of evidence and data [it] was not a very difficult decision” to reopen schools, recounted DeSantis. But “it was a very difficult political decision just in terms of the blowback that we’ve got. We were opposed by almost every major health bureaucrat that would go on TV” as well as the White House coronavirus task force. However, “the sky didn’t fall” when Florida schools re-opened, and the governor “thought all these other states would be forced to open their schools” but “in reality, you had places that locked them out for over a year, sometimes even more.”

“We looked at the big picture, and our state is much better off for having done that,” he said. “And I can tell you, if you look at the test scores that we’ve seen, we’ve actually had students in lower incomes gain over the last two years. You can’t say that about California and a lot of these other places.”

“Not only were they wrong about schools, the elites were wrong about lockdowns, they were wrong about epidemiological models and the hospitalization models. They were wrong about forced masking,” he continued. “They were wrong when they rejected the existence of natural immunity. They were wrong about the efficacy of the mRNA vaccines. And they were wrong when I said this – that COVID was seasonal. Now they admit it, but they didn’t when it was obvious that that was the case.”

“They were wrong and they got it wrong time and time again.”

‘An individual has a right to participate in society’

Even before many American cities and foreign countries began medically segregating people, in Florida, DeSantis said, “we saw what was coming down the pike” regarding vaccine passports – “the idea that you have to show proof of a COVID shot to be able to participate in society.”

So the Sunshine State banned them.

“There were some conservatives that said, ‘yeah, well, government shouldn’t do vaccine passport[s] but if a private business wants to do it, what’s wrong with that?’” recalled DeSantis. “Well, I’ll tell you what … What’s wrong with that is an individual has a right to participate in society.”

DeSantis said it was “because we didn’t have vaccine passports” that 2021 marked the “best year for domestic tourism in the history of the state of Florida.” Forty-five percent of foreign tourism was also to Florida, he noted.

In 2021, vaccine passports took off in left-wing American cities and European countries, with varying degrees of severity. And draconian vaccine mandates for jobs and schools forced untold numbers of people around the world to be injected with experimental drugs that do not stop transmission of disease, have well-documented risks and potential side effects, and the makers of which cannot be sued should their products kill or maim people.

“Our view is very simple,” DeSantis declared. “No Floridian should have to choose between a job that they need and a shot they do not want.”

Students shouldn’t be ‘listless vessels’

The governor, who is beloved by conservatives who say he has former President Donald Trump’s fighting spirit with none of the baggage, touted his state’s schools as excellent not just because of their common-sense approach to the coronavirus.

“We have more choice in our K-through-12 system than any state in the country thus far,” he said, describing some of the affordable voucher and scholarship options Florida families have should they not want to send their kids to a local public school. Meanwhile Floridians also have the option of classical academies connected to Hillsdale College (“A Tiny Christian College in Michigan Is Infiltrating Florida’s Schools,” Slate recently warned), and in-state tuition at public universities is low compared to similar schools in many other states. And tenured public university professors are subject to review every five years now, thanks to a new law, “can be let go if they are not doing the job.”

DeSantis listed a number of other accomplishments that have made him popular with approximately half the country: Ensuring Florida is a “law and order state,” not one run by George Soros-funded prosecutors; tightening election integrity (“I think we have the most secure elections in the country. And I think our model is one that that other states can emulate, particularly the way we track voter turnout.”); banning public schools from teaching of critical race theory and indoctrinating kids with gender theory; strengthening public school curricula (“We have an obligation to produce people who are going to be able to discharge the duties of being an American citizen. You don’t do that by graduating people who are listless vessels.”); and cracking down on doctors who perform “irreversible, invasive sex change operations on people [who] can’t even consent to get a tattoo or can’t even do a lot of other things.”

“And this is not based on science. This is not based on medical evidence. This is based on ideology.”

DeSantis also touched on the absurdity of males competing in female sports but did not mention abortion in his speech.

‘We owe a debt of gratitude for those who’ve come before us’

DeSantis concluded by recalling flights from Florida to D.C. during his time as a U.S. Congressman, and the “panoramic” view he’d see of various national monuments in the nation’s capital.

“But I came to realize where the best monuments were,” he said. “Not out the left side of the plane. The best monuments, if you look down the right side of the plane, you look over the Potomac River, you look into northern Virginia, and you saw monuments that were much smaller, very nondescript, orderly, arranged across what seemed to be rolling hills [at] a place called Arlington National Cemetery.”

“And it just occurred to me that you can have the best principles in the world, you can have the best ideals. You can even have the best politicians in the world. But those ideals aren’t going to amount to very much if you don’t have people who throughout history have been able to stand up, put on that uniform and be willing to risk it all, and indeed, in many cases, give it all so that we could have a free society. So, yes, we fight because we want a better life for us, our kids, and grandkids. But we also fight because we owe a debt of gratitude for those who’ve come before us. And we need to do justice to their sacrifice. And we would not be doing that if we were running away from the fight before us.”