Democratic politicians in Florida are decrying Republican Gov. Ron Desantis’ recent proposal for a state guard force as something of a dictatorial power-grab, despite the fact that 22 other states currently operate one.
What are the details?
During a military budget announcement on Thursday, DeSantis proposed allocating $3.5 million in state funds toward re-establishing the Florida State Guard, a volunteer civilian force originally launched during World War II but disbanded in 1947, that would be under his control.
Standing behind a placard that read “Florida State Guard” followed by the motto “Let Us Alone,” the governor explained that the funding would go toward training, equipment, and support for up to 200 volunteer guardsmen.
DeSantis noted that the volunteer service would primarily support the state’s National Guard in emergency response efforts following hurricanes, natural disasters, and other state emergencies.
But in a passing shot at President Biden, he added that the force would “not be encumbered by the federal government” and would allow him “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible,” Axios reported.
The outlet noted that state law permits DeSantis to deploy a force “to assist the civil authorities in maintaining law and order,” including during protests.
In a press release, DeSantis’ office noted that if successful, Florida would become the 23rd state in the country to have a state guard recognized by the federal government.
Political opponents of DeSantis, however, quickly took to social media to slam the move without any mention of the federal government’s long history of embracing and recognizing state guard forces.
DeSantis’ gubernatorial challenger, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) tweeted that “no governor should have his own handpicked secret police.”
Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who also happens to be running for governor, piled on, claiming that DeSantis is a “wannabe dictator trying to make his move for his own vigilante militia like we’ve seen in Cuba.”
CNN contributor Dean Obeidallah tweeted, “Wake up America: GOP Gov. ‘DeSantis proposes civilian Florida State Guard military force HE would control.’ This is a new ‘Red Army.’ The GOP wants to be ready for the next Jan 6 with an army!!”