Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says in his new book, The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, published last week, that his parents were working-class and his first job out of high school was as an assistant electrician shaped the style of government.
DeSantis — whose record as Florida governor has fueled speculation about running for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2024 election cycle — wrote in his book that after graduating from high school and entering Yale University, he took a job at a local electric company who once sponsored one of his youth baseball teams to help fund college. According to DeSantis, the work was a stark contrast to the lifestyles of his peers at the time.
“Whereas it was common for aspiring freshmen to spend their summers lounging on the beach and sleeping in until noon, I got up at the crack of dawn to work just after 6 a.m. five days a week as an assistant electrician. ‘ wrote DeSantis. “I was only making $6 an hour, but it felt great to get a paycheck for a good day at work make something of myself.”
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DeSantis wrote that the job as an electrician’s assistant “was also my first encounter with the federal government’s regulatory leviathan.”
When DeSantis showed up on his first day on the job, he wrote, “I was wearing typical electrician’s attire: jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and an old pair of work boots. And then I was immediately sent home.”
“Why? Because it wasn’t clear if the old worn boots were actually ‘OSHA approved’. I didn’t know what OSHA was, but I soon learned that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was a federal agency charged with promulgating occupational safety rules,” continued DeSantis. “The net result for me was that I had to spend the lion’s share of my first week’s paycheck to buy a pair of boots that were clearly OSHA-approved.”
“I doubt that made me any safer, but it made me a little poorer,” DeSantis noted of the regulatory requirements.
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DeSantis also wrote that his parents’ work ethic helped shape his own. He wrote that his father’s job at the television ratings company Nielsen placing equipment on select households’ televisions caused the family to relocate across the state of Florida, while his mother was “a nurse juggling patients in raising my younger ones.” sister and me to help.”
His parents’ presence at youth baseball games, despite their busy schedules, was something that helped DeSantis, as he grew older and had children of his own, “gain additional appreciation for the hard work and dedication of my parents and the parents of my fellow players.” .”
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The Florida governor wrote that his father was raised in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, while his mother was raised near Youngstown, Ohio in a town called Poland. He said his induction at Yale was “a serious culture shock” because aside from his own Florida upbringing, his “different frame of reference was the working-class neighborhoods of western Pennsylvania and northwestern Ohio where my parents were raised.”
He wrote that he recalled visiting the site of a former Jones & Laughlin steel mill in Aliquippa, where his grandfather had worked “largely quietly,” and that “the city’s infrastructure was in a state of disrepair – undoubtedly caused by the erosion of the J&L-centric tax base.”
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DeSantis noted that despite growth in the Pittsburgh area amid the broader industrial downturn, “Aliquippa never recovered from the steel industry’s decline.”
“It’s a sad story that is being repeated throughout much of the industrial heartland of our great country,” concluded DeSantis. “When I was young it just seemed like that, but as I got older I realized the role politicians played in undermining what became known as the nation’s rust belt.”