JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In an exclusive interview with The Federalist, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis challenged the right to take a proactive stance on cultural issues, not just a defensive one.
“Do you want to be the Harlem Globetrotters or do you want to be the Washington Generals? D.C. Republicans, a lot of them are my friends, but they’re like lovable losers,” he said. “They let the corporate media define the narrative and it’s like trying to fight your way out of a wet paper bag. You have to reject these narratives.”
Recognizing Americans who “aren’t captive to the Acela corridor or the far left coast,” DeSantis noted a hunger for strong and active conservative leadership. “If all you’re doing is, the Democrats propose $2 trillion in infrastructure [legislation], so we say we’ll do $1.5 trillion, that’s not going to animate anybody,” he said. “That’s just Me Too Republicanism and ultimately that’s not going to be successful.”
As someone many Republicans have looked to for leadership in the absence of national power, DeSantis emphasized the gravity of cultural threats the country is facing, and the necessity of engaging them. “As much as I’m a fiscal conservative, some of these battles with what the left is doing are effectively cultural Marxism,” he said. “You can have a successful economy, but if the underpinnings of the culture are being torn apart, I don’t think that’s a society that will be very successful.”
While so many Americans feel they’re on the defensive against an onslaught of cultural threats to their faith, families, and patriotism, DeSantis encouraged them to fight back. “The goal is not to just lose ground more slowly,” he said. “The goal is to regain ground in an offensive direction.”
“This last year was a fundamental test [for the Republican Party] about leading against lockdowns and leading to get kids in school and leading to make sure people weren’t under the yoke of oppressive regulations,” said the governor, noting his lawsuit against the federal Center for Disease Control over its attempt to force the cruise industry to require vaccine passports from passengers. “We are going to pry open every portion of this country one way or another.”
“If it’s Florida leading by example, we will do it, DeSantis added. “But there’s also a number of key issues that we really need to be dealing with,” he said, citing his actions on protecting girls’ sports, holding Big Tech accountable for censorship, supporting law enforcement, and fortifying election integrity.
After signing a law to keep biological males from competing against female athletes in Florida, DeSantis emphasized his willingness to stand up to woke corporate pressures. In response to boycott threats from groups like the NCAA, he insisted “we’re not going to let corporations run the state, particularly woke corporations.”
“We’re not going to be bullied by groups like the NCAA,” he added, noting the NCAA has since backed down from its threat to relocate events from states with laws like Florida’s. Still, “I’m totally willing to sacrifice an event in order to stand with the girls of my state,” DeSantis said. “It’s an easy decision, and I don’t view it as pressure as much as saying, ‘the battle lines are clearly drawn, so which side are you going to be on?’ So we’re obviously on the side of the women athletes in this state.”
He also slammed the role corporate media has played in the culture war. “You just can’t trust ’em. They’ve always had biases but it’s much different than bias now,” said the governor, who recently withstood a partisan smear from CBS’s “60 Minutes” fabricating a fake scandal about Florida’s vaccine distribution. Corporate media “are basically spinning partisan fact-free Orwellian narratives, so when facts present themselves that undercut those narratives, they will simply either ignore those facts or actually affirmatively try to smother the facts.”
“In some respects, [corporate media] really are the heart and soul of the Democrat Party,” he added. “The politicians are on the side, it’s really corporate media that drives their agenda.”
“I don’t think there’s ever been as many hostile cultural forces, whether it’s corporate media, universities, big tech, now big business,” DeSantis continued. “If you’re an American who believes in the core values of this country — faith, family, opportunity — you are absolutely on the defensive in many respects, so the question is, how do you fight back effectively.”
These voters need strong leadership, he added. “If you lead and particularly if you’re willing to take some arrows along the way, there are voters that will do whatever they can to make sure they have your back.”
“Stop trying to grovel in front of [corporate media outlets], stop thinking that they’re going to like you,” DeSantis concluded, calling for Republicans to fight the narrative being pushed by corporate media as well as Big Tech, the Biden White House, and woke corporations. “Republicans need to understand where the battle lines are being drawn.”