You’ve probably heard that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants to create his own militia that would be controlled by . . . guess who, the governor. In other words, one of the worst right-wing MAGA governors in the country is proposing he have his own private army at his disposal. The governor wants to call it the “Florida State Guard,” the purpose of which is supposedly to help with “state-specific emergencies” without being “encumbered by the federal government.” He has requested state lawmakers provide $3.5 million to fund 200 volunteers, although it’s a good bet both numbers will grow larger over time. There is no reason to think his Republican-led legislature will not happily oblige.
The governor claims the force would be available to assist the national guard in handling natural disasters like hurricanes, which are admittedly a serious problem in Florida. According to the governor, “the Florida State Guard will allow civilians from all over the state to be trained in the best emergency response techniques and have the ability to mobilize very quickly.” Further, it would give him “the flexibility and ability needed to respond to events on our state in the most effective way possible.” Sounds good if we could take the governor at his word and know for certain that the guard would never be used for anything more, but unfortunately, we can’t.
To be fair, similar “state guards” already exist in over 20 states, and Florida previously had such a force during World War II, when national guard members were fighting overseas. But the thought of someone like DeSantis having his own militia is downright frightening. The governor claims the force will assist with natural disasters, but what’s to stop him from using it for his own political purposes such as the violent repression of his enemies, including non-violent protestors simply exercising their rights granted by the First Amendment? It’s too easy to imagine this “state guard” becoming the governor’s private paramilitary force or secret police, harking back to Hitler’s SA and SS in 1930s Nazi Germany.
Individual States Should Not Have Their Own Paramilitary Forces.
Clearly, individual states should be discouraged from becoming little paramilitary-based empires, and thus “Civil Wars” waiting to explode. One example of what can happen occurred in 2015 when Texas governor Gregg Abbot (who vies with DeSantis for the title of worst MAGA Republican governor in the country) used his own state guard to monitor federal military exercises based on a ridiculous rumor that the federal government was using Walmart parking lots to establish military control. Fortunately, the situation didn’t escalate into violence, but it should remind us of the potential for disaster.
Right-wing MAGA governors like DeSantis and Abbot, along with their ever-handy Republican-led legislatures, should have neither a paramilitary force nor a secret police squad at their disposal. These people are already doing their best to consolidate power by suppressing the vote and stealing elections, so why should they be trusted with their very own militia? Too many of their MAGA base already have hearts set on fighting another “Civil War” and white vigilantism is already a serious problem. It’s painfully obvious what’s going in America right before our eyes, and the fewer militias and vigilantes we have in our midst the better off we will be—and the better the chance that our democracy will survive.