Rick Scott broke the internet with a 35-second video urging Communists, Socialists, and believers in big government to stay out of Florida.
In the video, Scott said, “Let me give you a travel warning. If you’re a socialist, communist, somebody that believes in Big Government, I would think twice, think twice, if you’re thinking about taking a vacation or moving to Florida. We’re the free state of Florida. We actually don’t believe in socialism. We actually know people, and we… Some people in our state lived under it, and we know people lived under socialism… It’s not good. It’s not good for anybody. So if you’re thinking about it, if you’re thinking about coming to Florida and you’re a socialist or a communist, think twice. We like freedom, liberty, capitalism, things like that.”
The video, released on June 27, was a follow-up to a “traveler’s advisory” Scott released in late May. In that travel warning Scott advised,
“Florida is openly hostile toward Socialists, Communists, and those that enable them. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges by Socialists and others who work in the Biden Administration.”
The initial warning went on to say, “In much of Central and South Florida the situation is far more dangerous for Socialists, as they may encounter people from Cuba, Venezuela, and other parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean who have direct knowledge of, and experience with, the horrors of Socialism.”
Scott’s travel advisory is in response to Equity Florida, the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, agencies who have issued travel advisories of their own to “counteract” a “culture war crackdown” by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL). The agencies have warned groups such as migrants and transgender people to avoid visiting, or living in, Florida because of its “openly hostile” environment.
Scott is reportedly considering throwing his hat into the ring for the race for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Progressives fail to see the humor in the warnings, however, and are offended by the travel advisories.
Former Congressman Joe Walsh claimed the message painted Florida as an ”anti-freedom state,” adding, “Great message senator.”
Liberal news media sites wasted no time in expressing feigned outrage. MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan joked that a “United States Senator” telling “maybe millions of Americans not to visit his home state because of their political views” was “totally normal.”
When Former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner took to Twitter to express her belief that the advisory is “extremely inappropriate at best, a threat at worst, she probably thought her followers would fully agree with her opinion. Twitter users, however, seem divided on the declaration. One user posted, “Is it any less appropriate than when progressives have said conservatives are not welcome?”
“I don’t see the threat. I see him saying hey if you want your ideals to be represented here, don’t come here,” another reasoned.
One poster responded directly to Turner, posting, “It’s not inappropriate at all. People like you have pushed others to their limit, and you simply cannot whine and say it’s not fair that there’s a reaction to all the babyish demands and tantrum-throwing.”
In a post reminiscent of past issues with businesses refusing to serve customers holding opposing beliefs, one commenter pointed out, “There are plenty of places in the US where socialists are welcome and that are hostile to free markets. If those are appropriate, then so is this.”
Scott would be a highly controversial late entry to the 2024 GOP candidate pool. In 2000, while Scott was CEO of Columbia /HCA, he was at the center of an investigation into one of the biggest Medicare billing fraud schemes ever. The company settled for more than $840 million in damages and fees, later paying an additional $880 million in fines in 2002 for a total settlement of $1.7 billion.
Recently, Scott has been blamed for Nazi protests outside of Disney World despite condemning the protests and the protestors. “This is not what Florida stands for. Anti-Semitism has no place in our state, and we will ALWAYS stand with the Jewish community in condemning heinous displays of hatred like this,” Scott advised two days after the protest. Naturally, his delay in response was interpreted by the media as a silent approval.
While it is perfectly acceptable for special interest groups to advise members to avoid entire states through hyped-up rhetoric and warnings of “open hostility,” it seems that conservatives aren’t allowed to do so.
But if Scott’s travel advisory has done one thing, it’s to remind us that progressives have lost their sense of humor along with their common sense.