Florida's Freedom Shocks Blue-Staters

AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-USSR) had to get away from the hustle and bustle of D.C. and her native New York for that week between Christmas and New Year’s, where did she go? Florida, of course.

And why not? Florida has warm weather, beaches, and tons of things to do — and freedom in an era of COVID authoritarianism.

But when AOC made her way down South, did she buck the trend and mask up as she would in her hometown or around the Capitol? No. She embraced Florida’s warm, welcoming freedom — noshing on sushi, enjoying a drinky drink, and living it up at a drag bar … well, two out of three ain’t bad.

(Sorry, fellas, don’t get any ideas. AOC is undateable.)

All of this partying came as COVID spiraled out of control in New York City, so the freedom of Florida must have been somewhat of a shock to her, like it can be to a lot of blue-staters.

Blue-staters don’t seem to understand that Floridians (and people like them across the country) don’t want to live in fear of COVID. They want to live their lives, and they have no shame in doing so in Florida.

Related: ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Gains for GOP in Florida as COVID Refugees Register RED

Even conservatives who live in blue states look at Florida somewhat bemusedly.

Take National Review‘s Kyle Smith, who penned an op-ed in the New York Post that explained Floridian freedom to New Yorkers. After sharing the story of witnessing a couple on a motorcycle not wearing helmets and the passenger looking at her phone as they zipped down the highway, Smith explains what’s been so great about Florida as COVID panic-porn has so gripped other parts of the country:

I’ve been down there maybe eight or 10 times during the pandemic and arriving in any airport is like crossing the Wall out of East Berlin. Quite a lot of people wear masks in malls and stores, but most don’t. Nobody mask-shames anybody. You don’t need a vaccine card at all, much less have to dig out your Excelsior Pass three times a day.

Smith acknowledges that the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis has much to do with the way things have gone in Florida, which hasn’t been perfect but has been a terrific example of allowing people to mind their own business and live their lives.

Florida was one of the first states to open back up after the initial pandemic lockdowns (along with my home state of Georgia, I’m proud to say). The Sunshine State has flaunted its freedom much more than many of the other red states that are experiencing robust economies and have managed their COVID responses well.

Still, the reaction to Florida — and other, less braggadocious bastions of freedom — makes me wonder. Have too many Americans gotten so far away from “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that a state full of people enjoying living their lives is shocking?

If so, will we ever get back to where we were before the pandemic?



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