After the Supreme Court’s rulings on affirmative action and student loan forgiveness, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talked about a “dangerous creep.” AOC was referring to the way the right-wing Court is moving toward authoritarianism and “beginning to assume the power of a legislature.” The term “dangerous creep” can also easily apply to many individuals in the Republican Party who are helping to lead the march away from democracy.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is a prime example. If you think Donald Trump was secretive in the White House, DeSantis is already guaranteeing he would be the least transparent President of the United States in history. Unlike Trump when he was campaigning for office, DeSantis is a governor and so he has the opportunity to run Florida in a way that would broadcast his policies and approach as the nation’s chief executive.
Government accountability watchdogs are sounding the alarm at the unprecedented secrecy DeSantis has displayed over the past four years in office. Among his greatest hits: stonewalling the release of public records, greenlighting legal exemptions blocking information from the public, and litigating against open government organizations and the press. For example, a record number of new Florida exemptions created so far in 2023 alone means DeSantis’ travel records are off-limits.
DeSantis’ transparency has gotten so egregious that, ironically, it interferes with the media’s attempts to accurately compare his secrecy with that of past Florida governors. The DeSantis administration has routinely withheld key information from the public that would show how often it denies record requests and how long it takes to disclose them, according to a report from NBC News. Experts interviewed also point out that DeSantis is the first Florida governor to use executive privilege to hide records.
In another line of assault on democracy, DeSantis recently passed legislation limiting voting rights in Florida. Not surprisingly, the new law includes a provision that enables DeSantis to run for President without having to resign as governor. Fortunately, a U.S. district blocked parts of the law that would have interfered with third-party organizations that register people to vote from going into effect in July. Among other problems, the statute’s wording is “so devoid of meaning that it cannot possibly give people of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what information they are allowed to retain and for what purposes they may do so,” Chief Judge Mark Walker wrote.
As DeSantis exemplifies, today’s Republican Party is trying to lead America on a dangerous creep toward authoritarianism. If the Republicans win the White House next year, it appears likely that a dangerous creep will be coordinating this effort, whether it is the secretive Florida governor or the twice-impeached buffoon. We cannot let that happen.