Does Being Conservative Have to Mean Ignoring Risks?

Florida’s Ron DeSantis doesn’t seem to think so.

There’s no reason why the seriousness of climate change or the coronavirus should be partisan or ideological issues. Those are realities, not policy positions. All too often, however, conservative Republicans have felt the need to minimize or deny those realities.  Just turn on Fox News if you want confirmation.   But it doesn’t have to be that way. Case in point: Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida. Unlike Trump, he’s been honest about societal risks.

DeSantis was Trump’s candidate in the Florida race. But as Governor, he showed early on that he was no climate denialist. He has not shied away from talking about climate change, “referring to the term repeatedly since his campaign for the job in 2018, even saying it three times in a news release that announced a new statewide job, chief resilience officer, tasked with preparing Florida for sea level rise.”

DeSantis has also forthrightly addressed the coronavirus.  He’s declared a public health emergency in Florida. He also issued an executive order restricting access to nursing homes by people who might be at risk. He’s arranged to purchase 2500 test kits from commercial sources, so testing can begin by next week. Although he doesn’t have legal authority to prohibit large gatherings, he’s done his best to discourage them. His general view is the scientifically correct one that we should be “taking proactive measures that will help us flatten the curve of all of this.”

Whether he’s doing enough about the virus, I don’t know. I’m sure he’s not doing enough about climate change. But his realistic attitude toward serious risks is certainly a dramatic contrast with many on Fox News and with President Trump.

Trump spent weeks saying that the virus wasn’t a problem until he finally was pushed into declaring a national emergency on Friday. as recently as last Tuesday, Trump tweeted:” “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” To this day, neither Fox News nor Trump is willing to recognize that climate change is a problem.

DeSantis shows that conservatives don’t have to bury their heads in the sand. It would be great to see more of his forthright attitude in Washington.


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Reader Comments

One Reply to “Does Being Conservative Have to Mean Ignoring Risks?”

  1. Governor DeWine of Ohio is also responding to corona virus effectively, and his leadership in calling off large events seems to offer cover for other governors to make similar decisions.

    At least for DeSantis, the fact that so many of his voters are in the at-risk group may play a role in his decision making too.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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