‘Don’t Tread On Florida’: Ron DeSantis Tells Ben Shapiro How He Turned Florida Into The Freedom State
Ben Shapiro Ron DeSantis
Photo: Ben Shapiro Video

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis discussed his new best-selling memoir, surviving Yale and Harvard Law, and how he helped bring Texas-style swagger to the Sunshine State in a wide-ranging sit-down this week with Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro.

The interview with Shapiro, the best-selling author and podcast host, came at an event hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition in Florida’s Hallandale Beach to discuss the governor’s newly released book, “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” which skyrocketed to the #1 selling book on Amazon shortly after it was released.

DeSantis told Shapiro that he decided to run for governor while serving in Congress because he believed that Republicans were going to lose control of the House of Representatives in 2018, which they did, and he thought he could be far more effective at delivering results for the conservative agenda in an executive position. DeSantis said that the fact that his margin of victory in his gubernatorial election went from 32,000 votes in 2018 to more than 1.5 million votes last year is evidence that the people he serves believe that he is focused on delivering results.

DeSantis then focused on discussing how he delivered those results to the people of Florida, noting that “personnel is policy” and that elected officials need to select people who are aligned with their mission to maximize effectiveness. DeSantis said that his people were told that they were not going to leak or talk to the media without authorization and that after a few firings in his first weeks in office, his administration went on to have no leaks for the duration of his first term.

When speaking about his background, DeSantis noted that the values that were instilled in him at home guided him through two of America’s top academic institutions, both of which are hard Left, and that the experience strengthened his ability to fight back against the establishment and the political swamp in both D.C. and in Tallahassee.

“I’m one of the few people in this country that went through both Yale and Harvard and came out more conservative than when he went in,” DeSantis said. “And that’s not easy to do. And if I can do that, there’s no way the swamp is going to change me.”

After graduating from Yale and Harvard Law School, DeSantis signed up to serve in the U.S. military after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. DeSantis noted in a Fox News interview over the weekend that he did not get any of his education paid for by joining, but that he signed up out of a sense of patriotic obligation. He served as a JAG officer, including in Iraq, during the height of the U.S. war on terror.

Once elected to Congress, DeSantis said he was dedicated to delivering on his promises to voters, so he worked hard, slept on a couch in his office, and lived a “boring existence” in D.C. — avoiding parties and other pitfalls that members of Congress often fall into.

“I sold all my stocks before I got into office, because you know, I used to trade stocks as a hobby,” DeSantis said. “These congressmen are trading stocks, they’re making money and you wonder how they’re getting that advice. … Obviously, it’s made me poor as a result of that, but we didn’t do it. And then, you know, I didn’t accept the congressional pension, these guys get a pension after only a few years, you wouldn’t be able to get that in the private sector. And so we said ‘no’ on that.”

“And I think that I proved to my constituents that I was a citizen going up there to try to do what they wanted me to do, but I wasn’t going to play the game,” DeSantis continued. “Now, on the flip side of that, when you don’t play the game, you don’t have as many opportunities. They’re not going to let you run bills … you’re not going to end up being the chairman of a committee, you’re not gonna end up being in the leadership. That’s just the reality.”


Several minutes later, DeSantis transitioned into talking about how the way that he managed Florida’s response to the coronavirus pandemic ultimately made Florida a place that the rest of the country looked at as a bastion of freedom.

DeSantis noted how in President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address the former president warned of a few things, one of which was the “intermingling of federal money with scientific research.”

“And he said there’s a danger that given that public policy itself could be taken captive by what he termed ‘a scientific technological elite,'” DeSantis said. “And he said that that would not be good for the country, because they have a very narrow view about what they’re trying to accomplish, it really falls to the elected leader to harmonize all the competing interests and to not let policy be captive by a very narrow way of thinking as important as it may be, and as much as you want to consult with that type of thinking. But that should not be governing the entire society.”

DeSantis said that Eisenhower’s warning rang true regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci, who “not only has no competence to talk about your liberties or your way of life, or what is the best way to pursue happiness, he doesn’t care about your liberties, or your pursuit of happiness.”

The governor then talked about how Florida differed in its response to the pandemic and how other states came to follow the state’s example.

DeSantis touched on numerous other battles that he has fought and won while serving as governor, including fights with a dishonest media that has repeatedly lied about pro-parent legislation he backed. “The way to handle these people is to tell them to pound sand,” DeSantis said.

He also spoke about the importance of taking on woke corporations that are trying to implement the Left’s agenda through ESG standards, saying that they are circumventing the will of the voters in favor of a small group of elitists.

Another issue that Shapiro and DeSantis discussed was crime, which has been another bright spot in Florida under the DeSantis administration. The governor noted that police are flocking to his state in droves because the state has their back, which has led to a 50-year low in crime in the state.

“I was born and raised in Florida, and I’ve always loved it, it’s always been a great place,” DeSantis said. “But, you know, we were kind of known for the theme parks and the sunshine, which is great. But we didn’t have anything like Texas. They’ll say, ‘Don’t Mess With Texas, right?’ I mean to have a kind of an attitude and a swagger.”

“Well, I think now, because Floridians have been really proud that we went our own way in the last few years, that we went in a way that looked to maximize freedom,” DeSantis continued, “we now can say that one of our mantras is ‘Don’t Tread On Florida.’ We’re going to stand up for what’s right, we’re going to stand up for freedom. And yeah, we’ll fight back against the federal government.”


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