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Florida's War on 'Leftist Ideologues' Is a War on Freedom

The party which once claimed to be for small government and free markets has taken off the mask, laying bare its true intentions. 

On January 17, Florida's Republican Governor and Trustees of the State Board of Administration (SBA) approved measures to "protect Florida’s investments from woke environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), ensuring that all investment decisions focus solely on maximizing the highest rate of return" (my emphasis). 

"House Chamber, Florida State Capitol" by StevenM_61 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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The far-right's message is clear: shut up and stay out of politics if your opinions don't align with the government's. That is what happens in countries like the People's Republic of China (PRC), where the government dictates what businesses can and cannot say. 

Some people argue that the US is far from being like the PRC. But these people ignore the signs, and the trends. Even in the PRC, crackdowns don't always happen overnight, but they build up and intensify, as the rise and fall of Hong Kong's media tycoon Jimmy Lai shows.

Florida's war on businesses that endorse causes they believe in is nothing but an authoritarian power grab to restrict individual freedoms. The far-right's "war on woke" is a war on freedom, an attack on the bedrock of the US political, ethical and social system. 

At least in theory, Reagan Republicans claimed to the US public and the world that their ideals revolved around "lower taxes, less government restrictions on businesses and individuals and a strong military". 

Many will disagree with Reagan's policies, but that's a different discussion that I will not go into here. My point is that Florida has become a training ground for far-right authoritarians who want to silence and punish their opponents. They don't want small government, but totalitarian government. If you don't agree with politicians, you must be silent. 

Here's what Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis stated: 

"[T]he Florida Cabinet reaffirmed today that we don’t want a single penny of our dollars going to woke funds. We need asset managers to be laser focused on returns and nothing more. Florida’s not going to subsidize the actions of a bunch of Leftist ideologues who hate America; we’re not going to let a bunch of rich people in Manhattan or Europe try to circumvent our democracy."

Patronis' language is extremist and authoritarian. And he's lying about leftists "hating" America, this is simply a smear tactic. A government that imposes ideological conformity is not democratic. It does not respect people's basic freedoms. This has nothing to do with returns on investment. 

If it was about financial issues, the government could have examined investments and simply cut back on those that don't perform. If it was only about money, there would be no need to use such hateful far-right partisan rhetoric. 

But it's not about returns on investment. It's about a bunch of far-right bullies who want to use the power of government to impose their ideology, intimidate their critics and prevent citizens from exercising their freedoms. It is authoritarian. 

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