Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was sworn in for a second term Tuesday as the 46th governor of the Sunshine State after defeating his Democratic opponent in the 2022 midterm elections last year.
DeSantis, 44, a former congressman and U.S. Navy veteran of the war in Iraq, became one of the nation’s most high-profile governors in his first term, which secured his 2022 victory over challenger Charlie Crist with nearly 60% of the vote.
“From the Space Coast to the Sun Coast, from St. Johns to St. Lucie, from the streets of Hialeah to the Speedway in Daytona, from the Okeechobee all the way up to the Micanopy, freedom lives here,” DeSantis said in his inaugural address, delivered from the steps of the Historic Capitol in Tallahassee.
In his speech, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, DeSantis boasted about his administration’s first-term successes, which he said were made “more difficult by the floundering federal establishment in Washington, D.C.”
Such successes DeSantis spoke about that drove Americans to Florida included lowering taxes, reforming education, and ending judicial activism “by appointing jurists who understand the proper role of a judge is to apply the laws written — not legislate from the bench.”
“Over the past few years, as so many states in our country ground their citizens down, we in Florida lifted our people up,” DeSantis said. “When other states consigned their peoples’ freedom to the dustbin, Florida stood strongly as freedom’s linchpin.”
“When the world lost its mind, and common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue, Florida was a refuge of sanity, a citadel of freedom for our fellow Americans and for people around the world,” he added.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported last month that Florida became the fastest-growing state in 2022, with an annual population increase of 1.9%, resulting in a total resident population of 22,244,823.
“While Florida has often been among the largest-gaining states,” Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau, said in a news release, “this was the first time since 1957 that Florida has been the state with the largest percent increase in population.”
During his inaugural address Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis further slammed the federal establishment for enacting pandemic policies based more on ideology and politics than on sound science.
“And this has eroded freedom and stunted commerce,” DeSantis said. “It is recklessly facilitated open borders making a mockery of the rule of law, allowing massive amounts of narcotics to infect our states, importing criminal aliens, and green-lighting the flow of millions of illegal aliens into our country — burdening communities and taxpayers throughout the land.”
The governor added, “it has imposed an energy policy that has crippled our nation’s domestic production,” which he said has spiked the cost of energy for American citizens and eroded national energy security.
DeSantis continued criticizing states and cities nationwide that embraced “faddish ideology at the expense of enduring principles,” which the governor said harmed public safety, burdened taxpayers, and imposed medical “authoritarianism in the guise of pandemic mandates and restrictions that lack a scientific basis.”
“This bizarre but prevalent ideology that permeates these policy measures purports to act in the name of justice for the marginalized, but it frowns upon American institutions,” he said. “It rejects merit and achievement, and it advocates identity essentialism.”
“We reject this woke ideology,” he added. “We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy. We will not allow reality, facts, and truth to become optional — we will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”
DeSantis, who has generally supported former President Trump even as his growing popularity seemed to grate on the 45th commander-in-chief and Florida resident, has been guarded about his future plans. During his address, he did not mention any potential 2024 Republican presidential bid.
NBC News reported that Republicans who spoke with the outlet suggested it was a matter of when, not if, the governor would launch a presidential campaign.
DeSantis called the D.C. bureaucracy a sprawling, unaccountable, and out-of-touch authority looming over the American people, producing a dismal and pessimistic view of the country’s future.
However, Florida’s governor said the Sunshine State “is proof positive that We, The People, are not destined for failure.”
“Decline is a choice, success is attainable, and freedom is worth fighting for,” DeSantis said.
Hank Berrien contributed to this report.