DeSantis Says ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ Florida Etiquette Warns Out-of-State Cars


It’s hard to keep up with the official list of Florida haters.

Just when you think we’re running low, Governor Ron DeSantis dreams up an imaginary new villain. It’s impressive.

Move over college professors, “woke” corporations, tech companies, trans kids, “corporate media” types, and historians of racial injustice.

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There’s a new kid on the block: people coming to Florida in “out-of-state cars.”

A new plaque targets foreign tourists

Seriously. America’s most temperamental governor has a message for you.

“The Free State of Florida has a new pre-order license plate that benefits the Florida Veterans Foundation and sends a clear message to out-of-state cars, ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ or Florida,” DeSantis tweeted. .

I had no idea that “out of state” cars required a clear message – other than being told that about 20% of drivers in Florida don’t have car insurance and the state is second of the country when it comes to motorists killing pedestrians.

The no walking message looks strange. Isn’t that what tourists do? Eventually, they park their cars, then they literally march across Florida until it’s time to leave, leaving a trail of dollars in their wake.

I thought that was supposed to be a good thing.


The newly proposed state specialty license plate features a coiled rattlesnake that was first depicted in the Gadsden Flag, a historic American flag waved in protest of government tyranny.

These days, this colonial-era relic has been co-opted as a popular symbol for US Capitol insurgents, right-wing militias, QAnon crackpots and Koch-funded tax protesters.

It serves as a valuable tool for the rest of us to identify the giggles among us. So for that reason, I’m all for giving people the ability to put it on their national license plate.

(And good news: For one lucky “Don’t Tread on Me” motorist, the personalized “DUM AZZ” license plate is still available from the state.)

Florida’s confusing ‘don’t tread on me’ message to tourists

It’s more than amusing to find out that “out of state” cars have somehow been added to Florida’s naughty list.

After all, aren’t those out-of-state cars filled with out-of-state tourists, whose presence in our state during the pandemic has been a point of pride for DeSantis, and worth seemingly all unnecessary loss of life among elderly and vulnerable Florida residents.

Way to grab one for the team, Florida Grandmas!

The state is spending $50 million this year to promote out-of-state tourism through Visit Florida. DeSantis announced that during this year’s peak winter tourist season, Florida welcomed 34.1 million domestic visitors.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference in West Palm Beach Thursday, January 6, 2022.

“Economists originally projected Florida tourism wouldn’t fully recover until 2024, but quarter after quarter, despite the Biden administration’s complete failure to manage inflation and the country’s supply chain issues. , the number of visits to Florida continues to break records and defy conventional wisdom,” DeSantis said. in a prepared statement.

“Florida’s tourism industry is entering 2022 with incredible strength, proving that freedom-focused policies will always win, especially when fighting DC’s inept economic policies”

Oops, there was a complete failure in that post to mention that the supposedly troublesome feds gave Florida $30 million in stimulus funds that the state used to promote tourism this year.

This is an understandable omission. That’s because the feds are one of the villains in DeSantis’ cartoons.

I say. It’s confusing.

So many enemies, so little time. As for this new group, we like tourists, I suppose, although some of them apparently need to be warned that they better not “step” on us while they’re here.

That’s a mixed message, at best.

At first, I couldn’t understand why a self-respecting group of veterans would even want the “Don’t Tread On Me” message on their license plate. It’s more of a cousin of the Confederate flag at this point.

Florida veterans have multiple license plate options

But that may be because saluting veterans in Florida is a crowded landscape, with the state already offering eight different license plates that appeal to military veterans. There are individual specialty plates for all branches of service – Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

There is also a special Foreign Legion plaque, another that says “Support our troops” and a general that says “Florida Salutes Veterans”.

The trick to getting a new specialty license plate is that you need to get enough pre-orders from motorists before they go into production.

So in this case, 3,000 Florida drivers will have to pay for the new plate before it becomes viable. I suspect the real audience for the “Don’t Tread On Me” license plate won’t be the real veterans, who already have better options.

The new plate will appeal to Florida’s prodigious Meal Team Six commando reserve, and your average Florida hothead, who is angry, armed and looking for an excuse to act.

So if you’re a foreign visitor reading this, don’t be offended. It’s just typical Florida stuff. It’s still the seedling division of DeSantis.

You are just the latest target.

I recommend that you make it a valuable learning opportunity: consider it another gentle reminder that you have entered a state that is mostly “free” of reason and brimming with silly, contrived belligerence.


Frank Cerabino is a columnist at Palm Beach Post, which is part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.


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