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Sue Coe, DeSantrump, 2022. Courtesy the artist.

If Ron DeSantis – Florida’s own Viktor Orbán — is re-elected governor, he’s almost certain to become Republican presidential nominee in 2024. Trump right now has a better chance of being sent to the Big House than the White House.

This year alone, DeSantis has signed bills restricting abortion rights; preventing trans women from participating in school sports; limiting teaching about racism in public education; banning discussion of gay issues in primary schools; criminalizing public protest; punishing corporations that have challenged him (while rewarding his billionaire cronies); and mandating surveys to determine the political orientation of university professors. Some of these laws are being challenged in state and federal courts, but because Republican governors and presidents have packed them with their ideological co-religionists, it is not clear whether any will be reversed.

Sue Coe and Stephen F. Eisenman American Fascism, Still! Rotland Press, 2022. Cover design by Standfest,

DeSantis has fired elected, Democratic officials on thin pretexts and created a new police force – electoral brownshirts — to hunt down voting fraud. These fearless centurions were deployed in August 2022 – weapons drawn, and doors smashed in — to arrest and charge 20 hapless ex-cons who, it turned out, were ineligible to vote even though election authorities sent them registration cards. The point of the raids and subsequent press conference was not prosecutions (they are almost certain to collapse) but to intimidate former prisoners from exercising the franchise returned to them by a citizen referendum in 2018. Black people are greatly over-represented (47%) in Florida prisons, so the prosecutions serve the additional effect of bullying Black voters overall.

Ron De Santis is putting in place the illiberalism, soft-fascism, “semi-fascism,” or just plain fascism, that Trump tried but failed to implement at the national level from 2016-20. DeSantis, like Trump, aims to achieve the status of Fuhrer (leader), stifle protest, punish political enemies, control women’s bodies, prevent acceptance of gender diversity, end teaching about racism, and militarize public life. He holds a lead in the polls and is headed for re-election. The only thing that can stop him now is a massive turnout in November of women, young people, Black people, and newly registered progressive voters. The fate of the nation is in their hands!

This essay is excerpted and adapted from Sue Coe and Stephen F. Eisenman, American Fascism, Still! (Rotland Press), 2022.