As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to run for president in 2024, a new poll suggests that he may be misguided in his attempt to stifle “wokeness.” The poll, published last week in USA Today, shows that 56% of Americans consider “woke” a positive term, meaning “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.” Even more than a third of Republicans agree. Just 39% agreed with a negative definition: “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.”
On top of that, over a third and almost 40% of Republicans find the term to be complimentary. Independents also find the term complimentary by a slight majority.
DeSantis has made “anti-wokeness” a cornerstone of his political agenda and has gone so far as to upend the lives and liberties of Floridians through authoritarian book bans and speech codes. “Florida is where woke goes to die,” he declared upon his second term inauguration earlier this year.
But if most Americans believe “woke” is a positive term, why would they want a president to smother it, and replace it with oppressive power grabs and far right curricula? DeSantis won his gubernatorial reelection handily, but he may be underestimating the strength of his opposition.
His increasingly domineering measures have already cost Floridians their rights. Following the Parental Rights in Education Act (also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law) banning discussion of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity in public schools. Librarians must undergo state training on the law, and face losing their livelihood if they have books blacklisted by the state education board available in the library.
DeSantis has also targeted higher education institutions, carrying out a hard-right takeover of New College, a small liberal arts school within the state’s public university system. “The mission has been I think more into the DEI, CRT, the gender ideology rather than what a liberal arts education should be,” he declared, referring to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as well as critical race theory.
Ron DeSantis may have won his reelection in Florida, but his war on “wokeness” could come back to bite him if he runs for President in the 2024 election.