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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Newsom-DeSantis Debate


At the end of November, California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom and Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis faced off in a 90-minute debate on Fox News. Neither of these candidates is expected to be on the upcoming presidential ballot, but their discourse represents a very prominent split in contemporary American politics.

As we head into 2024, our country could not be any more politically polarized. There is a clear and steep division between the two major parties, which makes the prospect of the upcoming election daunting. 

Fox News dubbed the event as “The Great Red v Blue State Debate”, representing the current pinnacle of U.S. political culture. California and Florida serve as two prime examples, displaying opposite ends of the spectrum.

California is one of the most left-leaning states, with highly progressive approaches to abortion, the LGBTQ+ community, and racial diversity. On the other hand, Florida is infamous for its “Don’t Say Gay” bill (which was pioneered by DeSantis himself), restrictive abortion access, and book banning.

Both of these states are the epitome of their respective parties, and see the other as a model of how not to run our country–which was definitely reflected in how the governors interacted during the debate. DeSantis attacked Newsom’s method of governing California, saying Californians “Have the freedom to defecate in public… to pitch a tent on Sunset Boulevard…. to create a homeless encampment under a freeway and even light it on fire.”

The debate’s not-so-moderate Moderator Sean Hannity consistently backed up DeSantis’ jabs at Newsom, despite his claim to be neutral, and put the California governor in a defensive position time and time again.

In one instance, Hannity displayed a chart from the FBI that said California has a higher crime rate than Florida. However, the infographic was unreliable according to Time Magazine, who said, “The FBI’s crime reporting is currently in transition and many municipal police departments are not even sharing data.”

Alternatively, the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) data on homicide mortality shows that Florida actually has a higher murder rate than California. The CDC also says that Florida ranks below California in most measures of social and economic well-being; California has higher median income, greater educational attainment, as well as lower rates of infant mortality, teen births, accidental deaths, and suicide.

Newsom implied that Florida’s high levels of violence could be related to their insistence on defending the Second Amendment, saying, “Spend a little more time back in your home state and address the murder and gun violence in your own backyard.”

Newsom also criticized the way DeSantis handles social issues in his home state, specifically highlighting his extensive book ban of over 1000 titles. DeSantis responded with an image from “Gender Queer: A Memoir”, which is a graphic novel that depicts oral sex. He claims that there’s “pornography” in schools and that his blacklisting of LGBTQ+ literature is merely protecting children from indoctrination.

However, as Newsom said, DeSantis is using “Education as a sword for [his] cultural purge.” Under the guise of protecting our nation’s youth, DeSantis is attempting to erase the identity of 23,233,000 million LGBTQ+ Americans.

In a particularly tense moment of the debate, Newsom said, “I don’t like the way you demean people. I don’t like the way you demean the LGBTQ community… I find this fundamentally offensive.”

DeSantis constantly attacks vulnerable communities and is determined to gain control of our country by intimidating and humiliating the people who don’t fit his “Christian”, traditional, American values. Christianity should not be used as an excuse to spread hate and ignorance, because in reality, its values encourage people to accept and love everyone equally.

DeSantis justifies his conservative approach to abortion by saying he believes in “a culture of life”, once again weaponizing his religious beliefs to limit the rights of anyone who doesn’t agree with him, criminalizing women for their right to bodily autonomy.

The debate eventually shifted from social issues, as the 2024 presidential election came to the forefront of the discussion. Newsom took several digs at DeSantis’s failing campaign, highlighting the fact that he’s 41 points down in his very own state. The California governor took up the role of presidential defender, advocating for Biden’s re-election, “Joe Biden will be our nominee in a matter of weeks. In a matter of weeks, [DeSantis] will be endorsing Donald Trump.”

Although the mental decline of Joe Biden is a genuine concern, as the 81-year-old president continues to make questionable public appearances, as Newsom said, “I will take Joe Biden at 100 rather than Ron DeSantis at any age, any day of the week.”

Despite how complicated our current political scene is in the United States, I could never imagine standing with any candidate who actively spreads hate against oppressed groups. Merely supporting the right to bodily autonomy for women, as well as being against homophobia and racial discrimination, is seen as being extremely liberal, when in reality, it’s advocating for basic human rights. Every person deserves equal treatment, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or religion, and it’s terrifying that having that opinion is controversial in some parts of our country.

As the class of 2024 comes into voting age just in time for the upcoming presidential election, I urge any student to educate themselves on differing perspectives. No matter how miniscule your actions might feel at the moment, every vote matters, and as the future of this country, it’s our responsibility to bring the change we want to see.

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