Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a poor showing in Monday night’s debate, where he denied basic American History, denied facts, and found himself unable to answer the most basic question from his opponent.
DeSantis, who has pushed back on rumors he plans to run for President in 2024 – surely aware that confirmation would put him at odds with Donald Trump in the meantime – was unable to answer the simplest question of the night: whether he would, if re-elected, serve as Florida’s Governor for a full four-year term.
In more egregious, if less visually stunning, answers, he displayed a poor comprehension and awareness of science and history, even apparently forgetting which war was fought over slavery (here’s a hint, Governor: it wasn’t the Revolutionary War).
Regarding the colonization of a land mass that was already populated by natives, DeSantis seemed to forget about the Trail of Tears lesson from middle school History class, as well as every fact about genocide visited on indigenous people, as he declared, “Teaching the United States was built on stolen land, that is inappropriate for our schools. It’s not true!”
On the history of enslaving people in this nation, he claimed, “It’s not good to distort American History by saying that the American Revolution was fought to defend slavery, which is not true.”
Well, he’s technically correct — unless, of course, he meant to say the Civil War, in which case, he’s not correct at all, as contemporary accounts, including documents from seceding states, demonstrate clearly.
Democrat Charlie Crist, DeSantis’ opponent, called him out for many of these outrageous declarations, saying, “It happened. It’s a fact. We shouldn’t have a whitewash approach to educating our children…How are they going to do well in life if they don’t even know our own history?”
In response, DeSantis claimed that elementary-aged children are being sorted by race and that white kids are being told, “You’re an oppressor,” and Black kids are being told, “You’re Oppressed.”
DeSantis showed an equal misunderstanding of – or perhaps disdain for – the facts of medical science, declaring that he supports a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of gestation (before many major medical issues may be known) because, he claims, “the baby is fully formed” at that point. For this, he offers the supporting evidence that the fetus “has a heartbeat, can feel pain and can suck their thumb.”
While some of that is true, the conclusion – that a 15-week fetus is “fully formed” – might be something DeSantis should check in with medical professionals about. They’d beg to differ.
Of course, his slavery apologetics and anti-woman politics are nothing too new — after all, as the Miami New Times reported way back in 2018, they’re laid out in his 2011 book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers. In it, he lauds the Three-Fifths Compromise, by which slave states were allowed to count enslaved persons as just over half of a person for the purposes of increased Congressional representation, and argues in favor of slavery being permitted in the Constitution.
As for women’s rights, he uses the book as a platform to attack President Barack Obama for supporting the U.N.’s efforts to end discrimination against women and for efforts to combat violence against women — lashing out at an initiative specifically combatting rape and domestic abuse.
It’s no great surprise that he’s using his office and the debate stage to deny history with regard to slavery and to support the subjugation of women — he told us who he was a decade ago.
Watch the entire debate here: