DeSantis' scathing book about Obama shows his 'individual freedom' philosophy, his disdain for the media, and how he studies other politicians
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote a book in 2011 called Dreams from Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
DeSantis published a book in 2011 intended as a takedown on Obama and his policies.
The book tells readers something about DeSantis' political philosophy, but not about the governor's life.
DeSantis wrote the book during the Tea Party movement and before he ran for Congress.
Before Republican Ron DeSantis became a well-known Florida governor who frequently targets President Joe Biden, his goal was to overthrow another Democratic president: Barack Obama.
He did so in his 2011 book, Dreams from Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.
The book's title aimed to criticize Obama by playing on the name of the President's first memoir, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. DeSantis even used a cover similar to Obama's.
DeSantis wrote the book while growing up in politics during the Tea Party movement. Then, in his mid-30s, he had just been honorably discharged from the Navy and would soon be running successfully for the US House of Representatives, where he would serve from 2013 to 2018.
Although the book was written more than a decade ago, it sheds light on how DeSantis thinks about politics and other politicians. In it, DeSantis attempts to argue that Obama's policies have deviated from the Constitution and that the former president is committed to "wealth redistribution."
Insider got a printed copy of the book to read and had seven takeaways:
The book is hard to get
"Dreams from Our Founding Fathers" probably won't make it onto many Christmas gift lists, even for politicians, because there aren't many copies around.
According to NPD BookScan, which tracks retail sales of U.S. print books, 125 copies of Dreams from Our Founding Fathers had been sold as of July 2022. This means that the books for sale are now priced heavily - on Amazon, for example, prices range from $369.99 to $1,683.99.
To obtain a printed copy of the book, Insider called the Miami-Dade Public Library System, which had to order a copy from library release service Interlibrary Loan. Two weeks later, a copy of the book arrived in Miami-Dade from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
Otherwise, readers have the option of accessing the book electronically.
Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis signs an autograph for supporters after speaking at a rally outside a campaign office in Melbourne, Florida on October 28, 2018.
"Dreams" is not a memoir
Many politicians write books to tell voters who they are, what interests them and where they come from. They tell stories of lessons their parents taught them growing up and how they were forced to pursue a life of public service.
"Dreams of Our Founding Fathers" is not this book. Readers interested in learning more about DeSantis' childhood in Dunedin, Florida; how he proposed to his wife, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis; or his fairytale wedding at Disney World will not find those details in it. The book's only personal reference is found in its dedication, which reads, "To Casey."
But it comes down to DeSantis' disdain for Washington. He accuses Democratic leaders of having "a tendency to spend other people's money, a desire to control the lives of their fellow citizens, and a desire to immortalize themselves in office."
"It seems they see the Constitution as a quaint afterthought, a sometimes galling impediment to their desire to redistribute their fellow citizens' money and engage in social manipulation," he wrote.
DeSantis sees "individual freedom" as the top priority
DeSantis' book is about the Tea Party, a Republican movement that wanted smaller government and less spending. The group's following grew during Obama's first years in office, taking firm positions against his homeowner foreclosure avoidance program, his stimulus plan, and his healthcare bill known as the Affordable Care Act.
In his book, DeSantis accuses Obama and his supporters of working towards "more centralized government power and less individual freedom" in order to "bolster the power of the state and its collectivist goals".
America, he wrote, "is at a constitutional crossroads" and should return to the Founding Fathers' attitude that the primary function of government is "the protection of individual liberty."
As governor, DeSantis has served as a defender of "freedom." He has argued that he can even use the hand of the state government to limit workplace training on diversity, equity and inclusion, and classes in schools on race and gender.
In the name of defending individual choices and freedoms, he has also taken actions such as B. Preventing schools from forcing students to wear masks and preventing employers from requiring vaccinations of workers or customers.
"What I'm doing is using government to give individual citizens space to participate in society and express their opinions," DeSantis said at a political event in September.
DeSantis has said little about what lies ahead for a second term in Florida, but in his victory speech on 2022 election night he said, "Survival of the American experiment requires a revival of true American principles." The comments appear to be DeSantis' "first principles." ' to reproduce the book.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis greets Rose Simhon after she signed two bills into law at the Shul of Bal Harbor on June 14, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. The bills are HB 529 and HB 805. HB 805 ensures that voluntary rescue services, including Hatzalah, can operate. HB 529 requires Florida schools to observe a minute's silence each day.
DeSantis studied Obama carefully and was personally critical of him
"Dreams from our Founding Fathers" is not only strongly based on Obama's autobiography. DeSantis uses excerpts from Obama's campaign promises, speeches and legislation throughout.
It shows that DeSantis had carefully studied the President and his agenda.
"The Obama era has seen an expansion of government at virtually every level," DeSantis wrote.
DeSantis was also personally critical of Obama, naming him "first in his own head" and saying, "He actually believed that he was a historically special figure." In one section of the book, DeSantis wrote that Obama lacked the humility of George Washington, the first US Presidents.
He wrote that Obama had "a palpable hubris" and "made outlandish claims about his own importance as an individual."
He accused the Obama campaign of having a "messianic attitude". Eleven years later, during his 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign, the DeSantis campaign ran an ad implying that DeSantis had been chosen by God to be a "fighter."
Obamacare plays a big role
DeSantis, who majored in history as an undergraduate at Yale University, quotes from the Constitutional Convention and the Federalist Papers throughout this book. He argues that America should be a place where government has limited power and adheres to a few core functions.
General healthcare falls outside of these functions, according to DeSantis. Much of his book criticizes the Affordable Care Act that Obama signed into office during his first term. DeSantis is particularly critical of the provision known as the "individual mandate," which required citizens to purchase health insurance or otherwise pay taxes. (In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA's tax as constitutional.)
He also criticizes several other taxes and regulations in Obamacare, using the law as an example of expanding government and the rules and regulations that accompany it.
Given his current stance on such issues, it is somewhat surprising that DeSantis's book does not touch on any of the so-called "culture war" elements of the health care act, which deal with transgender rights or reproductive health care.
Instead, DeSantis warned that the healthcare bill would push the US toward a "purely government-run payer system." Eventually, however, the law empowered corporate insurers, and Democrats channeled even more funds to the ACA over the past two years.
When DeSantis was in Congress, he voted to repeal the ACA — even though the measure failed in the Senate. Republicans have managed to zero out the fine for the uninsured as part of their tax bill, and Democrats have not pushed to bring the provision back.
As governor, DeSantis has not approved of Florida opting for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, which would allow 800,000 low-income Floridians to receive federally funded health care.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responds to a question from a local television reporter after he signed legislation making it difficult for social media companies to Penalize users who violate Terms of Service.
DeSantis showed mockery for the press
As governor, DeSantis has become famous for confronting media outlets he sees as overly hostile towards him. He often rails against the "corporate media", argues with reporters about their questions, and blocks some reporters from political events. He regularly gives interviews to Fox News and other conservative media outlets — but not elsewhere.
His negative views of the press as biased go back at least as far as he wrote his book. In it he accuses the press of treating Obama with "kid gloves" because his politics and worldview "corresponded very well with the political orientation of most ordinary journalists."
Obama, DeSantis wrote, "received complimentary media coverage from a press thoroughly enthusiastic about his progressive policies."
Another DeSantis book would bring a big payday
Dreams from Our Founding Fathers is published by High-Pitched Hum Publishing of Jacksonville, Florida, a cooperative publisher known in literary circles as the "vanity press." This means that DeSantis, as the author, paid for the publication of his book and for expenses such as printing.
Typically, famous politicians reap massive gains that greatly enrich them. But in 2011, DeSantis wasn't very well known. His U.S. House of Representatives financial disclosures from 2013 to 2015 show that he received $13,278 in book royalties during that period, according to insider tally.
The story goes on
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