Sports has off-seasons. Politics does not. For most, it is exhausting. But I love it.
President Trump’s presidential campaign announcement drew groans from a small but loud faction of “Republicans” who consistently demand an off-season while the left stays on the field.
“Ugh! Not again! We can’t handle it!”
Then don’t handle it. Maybe politics isn’t for you. Go have a cup of chamomile tea and hide under a fuzzy blanket.
“Ron DeSantis is now the leader of the Republican Party… it’s time to move on from Trump… he’s dragging down the party.”
Those making these flawed claims – alongside the GOP’s McLeadership – tried over several weeks to inculcate in the minds of the voting public that somehow Trump’s endorsements were the problem. They failed. Just like they failed in the mid terms. Meanwhile, 93 percent of Trump-endorsed candidates won.
The messaging emanating from Republican establishment figures is not reactive, either. It was planned, and it comes from the top. Incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. This is the “McLeadership.” And the McLeadership has decided it is done with Trump. And so you too must be done with Trump.
But they were never not done with Trump. He’s not in their club. He hasn’t been a politician for decades. His multifarious achievements mean nothing to them. Not the sweeping tax cuts to Americans; not the conservative majority on the Supreme Court; not the Middle East peace progress; not the end of the forever wars; not the border wall and immigration actions; not the First and Second Step Acts; not the Right to Try; and certainly not the betterment of America’s trade relationships.
Nor, as they suggest, are you “anti-DeSantis” for standing with Trump. DeSantis has evidently been an excellent leader for the state of Florida. But there are known knowns about him that might make for uncomfortable debate stage fodder. Many pretend DeSantis didn’t shut down Florida during COVID. He did, albeit for a shorter time than other states. His inaction against the Mar-a-Lago FBI raid – under his jurisdiction and during his tenure. The Florida governor flexed staunch neoconservative credentials while in Congress. And perhaps most concerning is the Florida legislation titled SB2006 that Governor DeSantis signed into law. SB2006 mandates that the state health officer can use any means necessary to vaccinate an individual with or without their consent.
Another refrain is that Governor DeSantis deserves to be the “new leader” of the right because of his margin of victory over flip-flopper Charlie Crist: 19 points. DeSantis’s victory is explained by his reaping of the benefits of Republican refugees fleeing their blue states over the past several years. But he didn’t particularly excel on the debate stage. Watch for yourself.
Governor DeSantis’s military service is a great credit to him. But on foreign policy especially, his track record is deeply concerning. Republican voters are rightly wary of anyone with any relation or legislative resemblance to the McCains, the Bushes, the Cheneys, et. al. For over half my life, America has been at war. DeSantis today must repudiate his record in Congress, and should be more open about relationships with hawkish advisors like John Bolton.
Loyalty – despite the GOP zeitgeist – still matters. In 2018, DeSantis was running against the former mayor of Tallahassee, Democrat Andrew Gillum, who ultimately became more famous for his Miami hotel room dalliances than his campaign. Many forget that Gillum was actually leading DeSantis until Trump got involved, holding rallies for the now governor in both July and October. DeSantis’s victory was due, in large part, to the support Trump. Now, as DeSantis supporters echo McLeadership talking points, one might sympathize with the 45th President feeling stabbed in the back.
And while Ron DeSantis has not yet declared any candidacy for the highest office in America, it’s still a one-man game. But until others declare, Republicans would be wise to remember we have a national champion with proven success on the field. And he just came out of retirement. Game on.