The United States spent a tense four years under President Donald J. Trump which culminated in the January 6, Insurrection, the “Parler Putsch” which was inspired by Florida Republicans.
For all the pressure Trump put on American democracy and institutions we did survive – albeit just barely.
Next time we may not be so lucky, and if the GOP nominates Governor Ron DeSantis for President, the danger will be greater than under Trump. If DeSantis is elected, we may lose our democracy for good. DeSantis has taken all the rhetorical and autocratic lessons from Trump and applied them with greater vigor, discipline and effect here in Florida.
Fears about Trump who was a demagogic clown coming back are well-founded. But what is also true is Trump’s 2017-2021 tenure may prove a critical fire drill for facing a more competent and focused autocrat like DeSantis.
Though the flip side is since we survived they may desensitize the public to the threat from a more focused and disciplined demagogic autocrat like DeSantis or even a second Trump Presidency.
It also should be noted at this point, while DeSantis is a more effective autocrat than Trump ever could be, he lacks Trump’s personality-cult and political/business infrastructure – but this is not a piece about whether DeSantis is likely to get elected President, but one about the danger the nation would face if he were President.
Here is my reasoning on this:
➡️ DeSantis is more competent than Trump and far more capable of getting those around him to completely bend to his will. Trump’s rhetoric gets mimicked by other Republicans but it took him three plus years in office to get advisors around him who would completely cave in to his demands.
➡️ DeSantis is far more focused and disciplined in how he presents his ideology – an ideology which in itself is inconsistent but unlike Trump whose lack of consistent messaging opened himself up the inconsistency, DeSantis has skirted this line thus far.
➡️ Trump, who had no ideology other than maintenance of power was often impressionable to the last person in the room. DeSantis ideology despite its inconsistency is hard-edged and dug-in. He’s never open to changing his mind or pivoting.
➡️ Trump probably lacks empathy for ordinary people but DeSantis for sure lacks empathy and is better than Trump at spinning to make HIMSELF look like the victim of things like COVID-19.
➡️ DeSantis knows how to manipulate the media and opinion leaders better than Trump. He’s fooled many, including myself at various times during his candidacy and Governorship.
➡️ DeSantis does emergencies like Hurricanes and building collapses far better than Trump could dream to and gets the media to back off him during these critical moments where the public is paying attention.
➡️ DeSantis is far more adept at successful bullying governmental agencies and legislators to bend to his will. Anyone living in Florida currently knows this is the case.
➡️ A January 6 repeat is almost certain to be successful with the discipline and focus DeSantis demonstrates v Trump’s impulsiveness, indiscipline and mad ramblings. But as the below bullet point states, it may never come to January 6 if DeSantis is on the ballot
➡️ DeSantis has already perfected using agencies to engage in data suppression and manipulation so may never come to Jan 6. Trump NEVER fully mastered this. If he had, he may still be President.
➡️ DeSantis is a laser-focused, highly scripted and disciplined politician who has taken all the anger Trump created, all the red meat issues he threw to his base and given them a messaging consistency Trump never could. Trump for all his demagogic rhetoric, meandered all over the place even during individual speeches.
Trump was a wake-up call for those who value democracy, transparency and normalcy. Based on his record and rhetoric in Florida, If Ron DeSantis were elected President, all the lessons of the Trump years will need to be applied to stop a more disciplined and ruthless operator from breaking America for good.