DeSantis: The race is on

(AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

I strongly support Ron DeSantis in the race to become the Republican nominee.

I am not unpersuadable. Certainly not NeverTrump. If it is Trump v. Democrat, I am Trump. Easy call, that.

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But I am, in fact, a fan of Ron DeSantis. You already know that, but I want to lay my cards on the table as the primary battle heats up.

DeSantis has been an outstanding governor of Florida, and his electoral victory and the huge level of support in Florida (nearly 60% approval) demonstrate that Floridians as a group agree with that sentiment. DeSantis turned Florida deep Red in 2022, based mostly on the fact that he is just plain good at his job.

As much as his victories in the culture war excite me, his appeal in Florida is based primarily on the fact that he is hyper-competent. He is able to fight the culture war because his constituents know that he doesn’t drop the ball anywhere else. Florida has risen to #1 in education, people are flooding the state through inmigration and tourism, and the economy is humming along.

When disaster strikes, he gets things up and running in a way few governors ever have. He is just plain good at his job.

But, I admit, that is not the reason I support him. I support him because he fights the big cultural battles that will define America’s future, and wins. His competence gives him the room to do so–people in Florida trust him to keep his eye on the ball–and I would love to finally have a competent president. It has been a long time, you know, since such a rare bird has appeared.

As far as I can tell DeSantis is fearless and he certainly doesn’t depend upon or pander to the media. He is smart, and articulate, and humiliates the media nearly daily.

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I certainly understand why some people think Trump should be the standard bearer. There is a case to be made for him, although I think the case is weaker than they do. Trump has presided over 3 consecutive disastrous election cycles, and I for one don’t believe America can survive a fourth.

Trump’s supporters will insist that those elections were rigged, or that the media was grossly unfair. And, of course, the entire Deep State was slandering him and hindering his success.

All three of those things are true. I don’t think the election of 2020 was technically stolen, although I also think that there was substantial fraud. But rigged? It sure was. The entire media and government elite engaged in relentless lying, censorship, illegal election changes, the pouring in of private money (Zuckerbucks), and disgusting ballot harvesting.

Time Magazine not only admitted that this was true, but outlined how it happened and why they think it was a good thing.

That’s why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they believe the public needs to understand the system’s fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America endures.

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They claim this isn’t rigging the election. It was, indeed, rigging the election. They claim high-minded motives, but it was election rigging.

I think Trump would probably have won an election where the deck was not stacked so heavily and in some cases illegally against him.

Yes, but…Trump clearly was out of his depth throughout 2020. He allowed much of this to happen, and his collaboration with the public health establishment helped enable much of it. He blew COVID, and no amount of rewriting history can undo the damage. Trump embraced Fauci and all his works, setting the stage for the most monumental gaslighting operation in world history. When confronted with the mighty power of the MSM and the Deep State, he blew it.

This is because Trump is an exceptional fighter. He hits below the belt, he scraps, he rallies his troops (and repels his critics, driving them to bizarre lengths), but simply doesn’t understand how the Establishment works. He never learned that you can’t govern by ignoring the government. Insulting the media didn’t destroy them; it made them more powerful. In short, Trump is a good “leader” but a terrible government executive. And when confronted with a foe he couldn’t insult, bully, or ignore–a virus–he embraced his worst enemies and hid behind them.

Sorry, but it is true. Trump actually used Tony Fauci in a campaign ad. Fauci. He even attacked Republicans for ignoring Fauci’s advice, including Governor DeSantis.

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Trump’s supporters go through mental gymnastics to explain how Trump “had to do this,” but that begs the question: when we needed a fighter for liberty, Trump chose the other side. Just as he did with Bud Light, because Budweiser gives money to Republicans.

We can’t afford a president who, when the chips are down, decides to hand power over to the most tyrannical people in America. And Trump did that.

Trump’s response is to claim that DeSantis is a secret moderate. This is laughable. The whole Paul Ryan shtick is laughable. It was Trump who told Republicans in the Freedom Caucus to vote for Ryan, against their better judgment. Now DeSantis is getting attacked for following Trump’s terrible advice, just as Trump attacks all the people he has hired over the years as traitors, without admitting he made horrible hiring choices.

How does that work? Everybody I hire is awful. Elect me! It is a bizarre argument, although it appears to work for him with a large slice of the electorate. “This person is a traitor to me! Elect me so I can hire some more!”

Another argument I hear is that he is far ahead in the primary polls, which is generally true, although state-level polls can tell a different story. Assuming that the polls tell the story that Trump wants to hear, they are actually still pretty awful for him. After 4 years of being president about half of Republicans–remember, these are almost exclusively people who voted for him twice–want him to go away.

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The amazing thing is not that Trump is ahead, but rather how large the group of Republicans is that don’t support him. That should be scary for the president and his supporters and clearly is. America has buyer’s remorse with Biden, but there is also a huge group who will crawl over broken glass to vote against Trump.

Then there are Trump’s priorities.

Trump has spent more money attacking DeSantis than he did supporting Republicans in 2022. His MAGA, Inc. PAC was formed to support his endorsed candidates last year, but it husbanded the money to attack DeSantis instead of using it to win control of the Senate. Trump viciously attacks DeSantis while praising Gavin Newsom, Stacy Abrams, and Charlie Crist.

Are you a fan of Gavin Newsom? Trump was. Because Newsom flattered him.

This set of priorities tells us that Trump is terrified of DeSantis. He keeps pretending that “Meatball Ron” is a nobody, but his actions say that DeSantis has a real chance of beating him. The NeverTrumpers certainly think so. They want Donald Trump to be the candidate so they can rake in the cash from Democrats next year. They even repeat Trump’s criticisms of DeSantis now.

Trump and the Lincoln Project are in bed together right now.

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This gets us to the last item on my list: Trump doesn’t care about conservatives winning; he cares about himself winning. By withholding support from his endorsed candidates when it mattered most, Trump handed the Senate to the Democrats. Now you may think trading the Senate to ensure Trump could beat DeSantis in a primary was worth it, you can believe that.

I don’t believe that. I would rather Trump had spent enough money to win those seats. Dr. Oz was literally beaten by a brain-damaged near-vegetable. Oz was Trump’s guy, and when the chips were down Trump didn’t use the money he raised to help his candidates win; he saved it to attack DeSantis. Because he cared more about himself. Trump gave up on winning Georgia–handing the Senate to the Democrats.

The appeal of Trump was that he would win so much that we would get tired of winning. Remember that?

Do you feel like we have been winning? In 2018? 2020? 2022? I don’t.

And in 2024 I don’t just WANT to win. I think the country NEEDS us to win. Trump might be able to do it, but DeSantis likely would.

I think NeverTrumpers have lost the plot–our country needs a Republican in the White House, no matter who it is. Anybody is better than Biden, and if you don’t think so we will never agree. Whoever the Republican candidate is in 2024, I will vote for them. Joe Biden is destroying this country, and I think Kamala Harris would become president at some point between 2025 and 2029. That is unthinkable.

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But I also want the best Republican candidate, and not just the best to win but also the best to govern. I think DeSantis covers both bases. He is, as I said, hyper-competent. Trump keeps reminding us that he can’t hire good people. DeSantis knows the media’s tricks and actually humiliates them, not just insults them, and he knows how to thwart bureaucrats. He has proven that.

So there: you know where I stand and why. Agree or disagree, I have laid my cards on the table. If Ron falls flat on his face, I will repent. He certainly could lose–the polls show Trump ahead, but then again Hillary! was the frontrunner in 2008 until she wasn’t. Howard Dean was on his way to becoming president until he wasn’t. Jeb! was sure to be the nominee, until he, too, wasn’t.

This is, as they say, why they play the game. And the games have begun.

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David Strom 7:00 AM | May 18, 2024
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