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Sen. Rick Scott’s Travel Warning for Florida Is a Veiled Threat to Socialists

The logic-defying statement by Scott echoed similar remarks he made in May.

Sen. Rick Scott speaks with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.

In a Twitter video message he posted on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) advised people who are socialist or communist, or even supportive of left-leaning views, not to consider moving or traveling to the Sunshine State.

“‍‍Let me give you a travel warning: if you’re socialist, ‍communist, ‍somebody that believes in big government, ‍I would think twice ‍if you’re thinking about taking a vacation or moving ‍to Florida,” Scott said.

The senator insisted that he and the residents he represented were part of the “free state of Florida,” claiming that socialism is “not good” in his verbal missive.

“‍We like freedom, liberty, ‍capitalism, things like that,” Scott said, warning viewers of the video that if they supported socialist ideas, they shouldn’t come to the state.

The oxymoronic commentary defied basic logic — by espousing the value of freedom, Scott should, in theory, be supportive (rather than dismissive or contemptuous) of other people’s viewpoints, even if they clash with his own. Instead, his message, particularly his emphasis on encouraging people to “think twice” before making plans to visit Florida, could be interpreted as a veiled threat to those with opposing ideas.

The statement by Scott also ignored mounds of evidence showcasing the benefits of socialism, particularly those that demonstrate a better quality of life versus that of deeply capitalist countries. In a ranking of happiness published in 2020, for example — which examined not just the gross domestic product but also countries’ levels of life expectancy, generosity, freedom/corruption in government, income and social support — the U.S. ranked 18th, while socialist countries rounded out the top four.

Those countries (Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) are also ranked high in measurements of freedom and liberty — even higher than the U.S., contradicting Scott’s claims that socialism was diametrically opposed to those values.

Scott’s home state of Florida is itself taking a dramatic turn away from freedom, with some critics describing it now as proto-fascist, as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies in the state legislature have passed a number of draconian laws targeting members of the LGBTQ community. DeSantis has also signed into law restrictions on what educators can teach regarding facts about Black history in the U.S., and has targeted immigrants in a number of ways, too, prompting several civil rights organizations to issue travel advisories against Florida.

An advisory in April from Equality Florida, a pro-LGBTQ group in the state, urged people not to come to the state due to “passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws and allow untrained, unpermitted carry, and foment racial prejudice.”

One month ago, the NAACP issued an advisory, noting the oppressive ways DeSantis and Republicans were targeting Black people in the state, including by limiting what could be discussed in history classes.

“Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color,” the advisory from the organization stated.

Scott’s comments on Tuesday weren’t his first “advisory” to people with socialist or left-leaning viewpoints to stay out of the state. In late May, responding to the numerous travel advisories issued against Florida over its far right turn in recent years, Scott also told people with such opinions that Floridians would be “openly hostile” toward them, as well as “those that enable them.”

In response to those comments, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) issued a statement of their own, blasting the Republican senator in a “Freedom Advisory” they wrote denouncing his “red-baiting” and other attacks against marginalized groups.

“We are unapologetically socialist because we share a vision of a society where we have democracy in every aspect of our lives: in our workplaces, in our economy, at the ballot box, and in our communities,” the DSA wrote. “Working people in Florida deserve better than Scott and DeSantis’ dangerous threats.”

“A society where a person can only have food, housing, or healthcare if it is profitable for someone else to provide it to them is not free,” the organization added. “A society where humans are powerless to fight an ongoing mass extinction and where our movement across land is criminalized is not free.”

Scott and others espousing hateful rhetoric against socialists “fear us because of the future we promise,” the DSA added.

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