Several years ago, while working with the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color through PolicyLink in Oakland, California, I had a front row seat to the inner workings of one of the most exciting times in California politics. This meant that I got to cross paths with everyone from both Governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom (as Lieutenant Governor) as well as Kamala Harris (as Attorney General) Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, who at the time represented my Assembly District in Oakland. What struck me about AG Bonta was a combination of earnestness and accessibility. Having witnessed him in listening sessions with local youth, I got to experience how well he listened, how much insight he had and the fact that his deep, deep compassion for human beings sits at the center of his political and legal mind. Maybe this is because of his background as an immigrant and a person of color; maybe he learned this in school. Regardless of any personal opinions one may have about his political dealings, Rob Bonta is someone I have personally witnessed as a straight up good guy.
Ron DeSantis however, is another story. I do not know him. I’ve never met him. I’ve never seen him publicly interact with anyone who looks like me (in fact, I’ve never seen him interact with anyone who wasn’t white). His policies are atrocious and bigoted with little rationale beyond scoring conservative political points. Inclusive of his many short comings, I find great irony in his resistance to the history of race and oppression being taught in Florida schools because so much of that history intersects with the different forms of human trafficking.
Only the most ignorant of people would not be able to understand that the coerced and or forced capture and transportation of human beings against their will or without their knowledge for profit (monetary or political capital) is literally trafficking. This is what happened to enslaved Africans; it is what happened to Jews during the Holocaust; it is what happened to Native children removed to “Indian Schools”; it happens to vulnerable women and children around the world and more. Shockingly, it is what is now happening with migrants entering the US at the southern border. DeSantis, and equally culpable migrant runner, Gov. Greg Abbott will deflect from the truth of their actions, stating that they are somehow acting in these people’s best interest by moving them along to “sanctuary cities”, but the truth is that if you put someone in a bus, or plane against their will, or without their full understanding of where they are going, it is an act of kidnapping. If there is financial compensation involved, it is an act of trafficking.
DeSantis and Abbot do not condemn these actions and they’ve tried to distance themselves from the facts, but the paper trails lead, most pointedly to DeSantis and his Florida government. Although I recognize that we are a country of laws and that one is innocent until proven guilty, no one asked the migrants who have become pawns in this disgusting political show and I somehow believe that the laws of the land that entitle DeSantis to a full investigation should not outweigh the laws of humanity or human decency. His involvement in any part of this display needs to disqualify him from any public office, let alone the Presidency of the United States.
If DeSantis is willing to participate in this kind of action, what’s to say he won’t try to cook up something just as draconian for transgender people in Florida…or worse as President for the country? What’s to stop him from locking up women seeking abortion care and shipping them off to Minnesota? If you teach CRT will you be packed off to New Zealand? Will he bus Mickey Mouse back to California?
Rob Bonta, besides being a good guy is also a brilliant and highly detail oriented legal professional. I trust that he will put his Yale degree to better use than DeSantis is putting his. I also trust that he will blend that technical knowledge with his lifelong commitment to justice and humanity. He will find the legal facts but he won’t forget the people impacted by them. The lottery of birth location is challenging to witness here because if anyone should be able to run for president its Bonta and not DeSantis.