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Martha’s Vineyard Is Just the Start: Ron DeSantis Has Big Plans on Immigration

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ron DeSantis’ Immigration Moves Not Limited to Martha’s Vineyard: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been trying to establish himself as a conservative leader on a number of issues. The latest is immigration.

Like other Republican governors, DeSantis is trying to contrast himself with the policies of President Joe Biden. Before inflation, there was no greater flashpoint than immigration

DeSantis wants faraway affluent liberal communities to get a small sense of what the Biden-era migrant surge is doing to border communities. The residents of Martha’s Vineyard are not amused

But there is more to DeSantis’ immigration insurgency than dropping undocumented migrants off in blue cities (something the Biden administration itself might be contemplating).

The Florida governor is vying for leadership of the populist and nationalist right, ascendant factions of the conservative movement and Republican Party, as surely as he is seeking reelection in November. This would position DeSantis well to compete for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Speaking to the third U.S.-based National Conservatism Conference in Miami, DeSantis spoke differently about immigration than previous Republicans favored by movement conservative leaders and big-money GOP donors. He argued America’s capacity for mass immigration has its limits.

“We’ve had periods where we had high immigration levels that we have had success, we’ve also had periods where we have great success with immigration levels being very low, such as … [in] the decades after World War II,” Ron DeSantis told the conservative gathering in his keynote address, referencing the period before the 1965 Immigration Act.

“So the issue is, how does immigration serve the people of the United States and the national interest?” he continued. “We’re not globalists who believe that foreigners have a right to come into our country whenever they want to.”

This is a much less romantic way of talking about immigration than past Republican leaders like former President George W. Bush. It is also a more systematic approach than former President Donald Trump, whose own immigration policies represented a profound break with Bush’s.

But even with advisers like Stephen Miller and his erstwhile boss, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump couldn’t always articulate an alternative vision that could compete with the Republican establishment view on these matters.

DeSantis wraps his populist critique of the Robert Bartley/Wall Street Journal editorial page’s free-market defense of more or less open borders in his broader rejection of corporatism and woke capitalism.

“The United States is a nation that has an economy, not the other way around,” DeSantis said, again at the natcon conference. “Our economy should be geared towards helping our own people.”

What does that mean?

“I’m not a central planner. I don’t want to be doing that,” he began. “But corporatism is not the same as free enterprise. Too many Republicans have viewed limited government to basically mean whatever is best for corporate America is how we want to do the economy. And my view is, obviously free enterprise is the best economic system.”

That doesn’t mean that what’s good for General Electric or General Motors is necessarily good for America, at least not in 2022.

“But that is a means to an end,” Ron DeSantis said of the free market. “It’s a means to having a good fulfilling life and a prosperous society. It’s not an end in and of itself, and we need to make sure that we have that firmly in mind.”

It’s not hard to see how such a vision can spiral out of control, as libertarians will be quick to remind conservatives. But it’s also not the first time conservatives have spoken this way. Pat Buchanan’s criticism of corporations whose “highest loyalty is to the bottom line on a balance sheet,” Russell Kirk’s disquisitions on the anti-conservative nature of particularly acquisitive capitalism, the work of Robert Nisbet.

Republican congressmen and even the occasional senator. Big-state governors who might be running for president have not.

The closest precedent is former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015 embrace of immigration restraint when he was viewed as a top-tier candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. He was criticized by a lot of the same types of conservatives now wary of DeSantis.

Soon enough, Trump was able to take away the immigration issue — and the top spot in polls of Republican voters — away from Walker. The nomination followed. 

Ron DeSantis hopes the similarities in the story end there.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, James Antle III is the Washington Examiner’s politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and Editor of the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?

Written By

W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner's politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Jester Naybor

    September 17, 2022 at 9:58 am

    “Trump couldn’t always articulate an alternative vision that could compete with the Republican establishment view on these matters.”

    True – however, he actually implemented policies that respected and protected our rights, including a free market with limited protections against foreign exploitation by China and others who have little/no regard/respect for our legitimate interests.

    That establishment not only was unable to support that, even when they had majorities in Congress … they are incapable, it seems, of articulating a coherent case for governance that respects and protects our rights, that can compete with the free-ice-cream-and-a-pony/command-economy vision of the Democrats that tramples upon those rights in the name of “helping” us.

    Perhaps they can take a cue from this revision of the liberal house sign …

    IN THIS HOUSE WE BELIEVE …
    … THOSE SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS FROM 1776
    … THAT EACH AND EVERY LIFE MATTERS
    … OUR RIGHTS ARE ENDOWED, NOT OUR WISHES
    … OUR SOVEREIGNTY PROTECTS OUR RIGHTS
    … OUR BORDERS PROTECT OUR SOVEREIGNTY
    … PROPER PROCESS PROTECTS ALL VOTERS
    … SCIENCE, NOT APPEALS TO AUTHORITY
    … COMMON SENSE CAN QUESTION EXPERTISE
    … LOVE RESPECTS TRUTH, EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD
    … RESPECT IS KINDNESS
    … RESPECT EXPECTS RESPONSIBILITY
    … RESPECT GOES BOTH WAYS
    … WE ARE NOT GODS, AND NEITHER ARE YOU

  2. abraham lincoln

    September 17, 2022 at 10:50 am

    DeSantis is a “populist and nationalist”? This is crazy talk. DeSantis has common sense, the sort most people in this country has. He is not totally mentally ill, like most Democrats. DeSantis is NORMAL and uses his head. He has traditional values, like most of the country. DeSantis does not shoot himself in the foot constantly, like Trump. He is the only guy who can advance a true program of Trumpism. Trump has shown himself to be noticeably ineffective at actually getting Trumpism implemented. He spends too much time arguing and crapping on people on his own side.
    DeSantis is sane and effective. God Bless Trump for standing in the gap until reinforcements could arrive, but Trump himself causes more trouble than he is worth. It’s time to pass the baton to a more effective man.

  3. Robin Olds

    September 17, 2022 at 10:56 am

    The government works for us, we the people. The people being US citizens, with taxpayers at the top. What is so unpalatable to you “W James Antle the third” about following the constitution and serving the interests of our people? This isn’t global community property, and people matter. History matters. If it didn’t, Liberia would be on par with us. But they’re not. Instead you tell us not to have children while saying we need mass immigration from ethnic supremacists that hate us. Progressives aren’t your friends. That hate you more than me, because at least I’m not playing along with their hatred of the greatest country in history.

  4. Mr. Gray

    September 17, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    I appreciate Trump’s willingness to stand up for conservatism but it’s true that he implemented some very left-wing actions, not the least of which was handing out trillions of stimulus dollars during the lockdown. You gotta love his SCOTUS nominations though. Trump’s problem is, and will remain, his mouth. While I’m willing to live with it for four more years, I seriously doubt that Joe Average is. My opinion is that it will cost him the election if he’s the nominee again.
    DeSantis, on the other hand, has proven his conservative bona fides and I think he’s smarter than Trump when it comes to knowing when to shut the hell up.

  5. Bobby

    September 17, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    With the onset of fall and subsequent cold weather it may be time for northern governors and mayors to send the homeless to Florida for warmth.

  6. Kenneth Felton

    September 17, 2022 at 10:18 pm

    DeSantis is no President Trump. He’s never been anything more than a lawyer and politician. That’s why the republican establishment likes him. He speaks their language and they believe they can co-opt him as they never could President Trump. and DeSantis will never get the support President Trump does. No republican will ever do that. The American people don’t want “big plans”, they want results. What has DeSantis done to stop the illegal immigration flooding into Florida? He doesn’t have a border to worry about. It’s just the Biden regime busing and flying in illegals. Sending a few hundred north may tickle someone’s fancy but has no effect on the Southern invasion.

  7. Kennerley

    September 18, 2022 at 10:27 am

    I think it’s really weird DeSantis made the effort to trick and traffick people who weren’t even in his state off to god knows where and people seem to think that’s…funny?

    He’s a human trafficker lmao. He literally kidnapped and flew children across state lines. Some of these weirdos licking his boots need a reality check or like a girlfriend or something idk

    Hope he doesn’t go to jail over this but it ain’t looking good.

  8. Paul Nachman

    September 18, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    All Trump knew about immigration was what he got from reading Ann Coulter’s 2015 book _Adios America_. But he promptly forgot everything once he was elected, following up on almost nothing contained in his great immigration-policy speech in Arizona in August 2016. (Stuff like universal E-Verify, reducing LEGAL immigration, ending the anchor-brat scam, …)

    DeSantis may well be more grounded. A clue will be if he **avoids** employing the brainfart that America is a “nation of immigrants.” It’s not, and even if it were, that wouldn’t provide useful policy guidance for a nation that’s overpopulated and already torn by internal ethnic strife.

  9. wally

    September 19, 2022 at 3:04 am

    DeSantis seems very promising but how do we know that he won’t be gotten to and taken over by the same DC people that got to everybody else? Also, he is very young to be POTUS even in 2024. Why not save him for office later?

    Trump is the one guy we know will have no choice but to take apart the DC machine. Trump also has too much money to be bribed and his family is grown up and secure. The DC regime has been attacking him relentlessly since 2016. He knows what he has to do now. He was fooling himself before, but he deserves a second shot.

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