While more and more Americans wonder if Gov. Ron DeSantis could one day be President of the United States, those of us who elected him as our governor saw the makings of a great leader four years ago. Floridians are now looking forward to reelecting Mr. DeSantis as governor, and are equally excited by the prospect of him one day leading the nation.
People in the Sunshine State who support Mr. DeSantis don’t just like him. We deeply admire and respect him. Unlike his current challenger, Mr. DeSantis is much more than the administrator former Gov. Charlie Crist was when he led the state. Mr. DeSantis has instead won the hearts and trust of Floridians by standing up for the principles we believe in during a dark time when our Constitution is being eroded, and our patriotism is mischaracterized by the White House.
Those who speak out against the Biden administration risk cancellation and parents who have raised concerns about their children’s education have been labeled domestic terrorists. For the first time in our nation’s history, a sitting president addressed the country just to label his opposition a “threat to democracy.” Committed patriots, concerned parents and those who value their freedom of speech understandably feel powerless.
But when other governors bowed to the panic of the pandemic, Mr. DeSantis ignored nationwide criticism and saved Florida’s economy by keeping it open for business. When Democrats insisted school boards had more rights than parents, Mr. DeSantis passed legislation prohibiting inappropriate classroom discussion about sex, abolished critical race theory, and mandated teaching the dangers of communism instead.
When Big Tech canceled Floridians, our governor said many in our state already endured the “censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela,” and took action by passing legislation that empowered Floridians with the right to sue (that law was struck down by an appellate court, but a similar law was just upheld in Texas). While the Biden administration continues to neglect immigration enforcement, Mr. DeSantis is relocating migrants to Martha’s Vineyard to give liberal elites the opportunity to prove their purported moral superiority.
What makes Mr. DeSantis an inspiration is that he has no fear, but he charismatically overcomes his opponents cleverly and eloquently with conviction, but without extremity. Our governor is a strong, cool player. And while his leadership only affects one state in the Union legally, it has impacted tens of millions emotionally across the entire nation. That’s because it only takes one small victory to empower people.
One of the most historic examples of this took place shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the wake of losing 2,403 Americans and seeing 19 ships destroyed or damaged, fear swept the country. Concerned that sending our naval forces to Japan could open the U.S. Pacific coast to invasion, the Pentagon was hesitant to immediately retaliate.
But President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt it was imperative for the national morale to strike back at Tokyo to send a message—not just to Japan, but more importantly to disheartened Americans who were feeling defeated, to remind them what their country was made of.
After seven weeks of secret training, the Army Air Corps did the near impossible. On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and 80 fearless servicemen flew 16 B-25 bombers from an aircraft carrier 600 miles in the Pacific Ocean to penetrate the Japanese coast, and within hours, they avenged Pearl Harbor with a crushing blow to Tokyo that eclipsed the Land of the Rising Sun.
When Americans, who were led to believe our bombers could never reach Japan, heard the news that our pilots did the impossible, Mr. Roosevelt’s prediction proved right. Our nation’s sense of defeat transformed to hope, and that small victory rallied the country throughout the Second World War. The United States was empowered while the rest of the world trembled with fear.
When the Biden administration seemed all too willing to persecute and prosecute anyone willing to speak out against it, it was Mr. DeSantis who fearlessly turned the tables on the Left’s intimidating tactics while cleverly defeating their authoritarian aims. Little by little, conservatives across the nation began finding their voice to speak out again, and many even packed their bags to move to Florida so Mr. DeSantis would be their governor, too.
But Republicans aren’t the only ones who see how effective Mr. DeSantis is. The most powerful Democrat outside the White House also sees our governor’s impact.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is targeting Mr. DeSantis in a desperate attempt to convince his party he’s Mr. DeSantis’s equivalent. If Mr. Newsom didn’t think Mr. DeSantis was the toughest kid on the block, he’d be haranguing someone else. But it takes a lot more than attack ads and debate challenges to earn trust as a leader, and Mr. Newsom’s petty antics hardly rise to the level of Mr. DeSantis’s achievements.
Our governor has proven to the entire nation that victory is possible here in Florida.
If we can stop the Left from eroding our rule of law and constitutional values in one state, we can do the same from sea to shining sea.
Whether he runs in 2024 or 2028, President Ron DeSantis is on course to make history.
• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former Washington prosecutor, and a senior U.S. official who served in the Trump administration from 2017-2021. He now serves on the editorial board for the Washington Times.