I was fortunate to get away for a long weekend to Florida with Harriet to visit her mom in Sarasota.
There are benefits to sunshine and warm temps. There is joy in biking, tennis, swimming, walking on the beach, and seeing loved ones. There is calm in putting aside work and responsibilities for a few days.
But about Florida, I’m conflicted. Beautiful beaches—yes. Fine weather—for the winter months anyway. On the other hand, the landscape is pancake flat, and as Owen says, Sarasota consists of strip malls and stoplights.
And then there are the politics. I couldn’t escape an oppressive feeling that the heavy thumb of little dictator Ron DeSantis is pressing down on everything. He spews talk about freedom and liberty while passing laws against marginalized people, punishing corporations (Disney) for speaking out against his policies, banning books from schools and firing administrators, wiping out a liberal college by appointing ultra-conservatives to its board, and appealing to all things right wing.
One of his favorite phrases is saying, “Florida is where woke goes to die.” A common definition of woke is to be conscious of racial discrimination in society and other forms of oppression and injustice. Woke equals empathy, but empathy may be a too difficult word for some people to understand, and DeSantis seems intent on killing off any awareness of oppression and injustice.
So I feel a little greasy about visiting Florida. I know it’s just power politics, and the pendulum swings back and forth, but DeSantis is a scary dude. He won reelection in Florida by a landslide and will be running for president in 2024.
I mostly put my uncomfortable feelings aside and enjoyed my visit. And I might be spending more time in the sunshine state in the future. But if DeSantis starts encouraging book-burning parties, goose-stepping, or Kristallnacht, I’ll be looking for a different place to warm my winter bones.