Catts had nothing on Ron DeSantis

Sidney J. Catts was a trend setter, the first Florida politician to campaign in a motor vehicle.

Which he equipped with a calliope to entertain his base.

Who he affectionately referred to as “Catt’s kittens.”

He carried two pistols because, Catts confided, Catholics wanted

to murder him.

You see, World War I was looming. And the Pope, Catts claimed, was conspiring with the Kaiser to seize the state and indoctrinate God-fearing Floridians into papist ways.

At his inauguration, Catts told his kittens:

“You have withstood the onslaughts of the county and state political rings, the corporations, the railroads, the fierce opposition of the press and organization of the negro voters…and the power of the Roman Catholic hierarchy…the everyday cracker people have triumphed.”

Catts may have been the first Florida governor to stake his career on getting Floridians to hate and fear other Floridians.

But he wasn’t the last.

For all practical purposes Gov. Ron DeSantis is running his political agenda right out of the Catts playbook.

You can’t demonize Catholics anymore, of course. So substitute, oh I dunno, liberals. Or transexuals. Or gays.

Or teachers. You know, those “groomers” who lust to indoctrinate our kids into deviant lifestyles.

Deviant math teachers even! Who can we trust anymore if not Gov. Ron?

And if all else fails: Muslims are still fair game. Yes, he’s been talking about you, Ilhan Omar.

Hate the media. Check. Hate corporations. Check. Nobody cares about the railroads anymore, so thank GOPness that Disney stepped up.

Can’t hate “negro voters” anymore. Wouldn’t be politic. Instead, just redistrict them so they can’t elect fellow Blacks.

Oh, and make it harder for them to vote.

Check, check and checkmate.

If William Jennings Bryan, a Catts contemporary, was The Great Uniter, then DeSantis surely inherits Catt’s Great Divider mantle.

With his every pronouncement he turns Floridian against Floridian.

Democrats can’t just be the loyal opposition. They must be “working to indoctrinate our nation’s youth with hatred towards one another and towards America…to rot our nation to the core.”

Listen, there are about 7 million of us Democrats in Florida. Technically we are all DeSantis’ constituents. How embarrassed he must be to have to pretend to represent so many haters.

And you can’t reasonably disagree with The Great Divider over, say, education policy. No, you must of necessity favor “sexualizing kids in kindergarten…injecting woke gender ideology into second-grade classrooms…enabling schools to, quote, transition students to a, quote, different gender…”

What despicable people we must be who dare to question a DeSantis dictate.

The average Floridian in 1914, when Catts ran for office, had little or no formal schooling. It was easy to feed hate to “crackers,” most of whom could barely read and probably never even met a Catholic.

Modern day Floridians have no such excuse for swallowing DeSantis’ “hate thy neighbor’ propaganda.

DeSantis is fortunate enough to live in a social media-besotted society. All manner of misinformation, disinformation and flat out lies stream into our devices, glazing our eyes and dulling our minds, 24/7.

That teachers are systematically indoctrinating our children is self-evident. Somebody Twittered it so it must be true.

A gullible constituency willing to believe anything they scan on their cell phones constitutes DeSantis’ personal Fantasyland. What use has he for Disney?

Listen, if Sidney J. Catts had Twitter he would have been president. Judging by his power to make Florida legislators bend their knees to his every whim, DeSantis may end up being dictator.

Ron Cunningham is former editorial page editor of The Sun. Read his blog at Email him at

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