Ron DeSantis Needs to Channel Some MAGA Style If He Wants to Beat Donald Trump – Here is a fact that most MAGA Republicans would never want to admit to: the vast majority of the time Donald Trump, Liz Cheney, Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and even so-called RINO Jeb Bush agree on the vast majority of policy directions for the GOP.
Donald Trump: A Classic Republican in MAGA Packaging
So why does MAGA hate establishment Republicans like Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan so much when Donald Trump agrees with them almost all of the time?
That’s simple: they can’t identify with Jeb! on a personal level.
Flyover America feels that so-called country club Republicans have left them behind and not fought for them as their jobs have been shipped overseas, their tax dollars were sent into wars that never helped them prosper, and the nation sinks deeper and deeper into debt.
That naturally leads to another question: Why does MAGA love Donald Trump if he agrees with so many establishment Republican policies?
Simple: he has a persona that comes off as if he is fighting for them and does not sound like a politician at all.
He is rude, he is crude, he has a crazy past, and can entertain a crowd like no other. But most of all, he comes off as if he gets the concerns of the average American. He barely talks about policy, he talks as if he is going to jump back into the ring doing promotions for pro wrestling.
Donald Trump – if you break down his policy positions and what he did while he was in office – was very much a classic Republican. Just with very, very different packaging – and some of his own ideas sprinkled in for good measure.
And it’s the packaging that made the MAGA movement happen and explains why Donald Trump still resonates – even though he has lost three elections in a row.
Ron DeSantis Needs to Use Trump’s Tactics Against Him
All of this is something Ron DeSantis needs to understand if he is going to try and beat Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.
DeSantis won’t defeat Trump on policy, his record, or any other classic metric for political success.
Oh no, Ron is going to have to get into the gutter with Donald Trump to some extent. If he wants MAGA votes he needs to show MAGA he can adopt the style of Donald Trump they love and voted for.
For example, he needs to understand that Trump is going to call him every name in the book and have a nickname for him even before DeSantis gets into the race. The nicknames of 2016 – Lying Ted, Little Marco, Low-Energy Jeb – all resonated and helped Trump beat his challengers, as crazy as that sounds. If Trump stuck a label on you that was negative and stuck you were all done.
Lockdown Donald and Donald Debt: Ron DeSantis Can Beat Trump
Ron DeSantis should have no problem winning this fight, as he has an advantage that he can exploit that Ted Cruz nor Jeb Bush could not use in the 2016 race: Trump has a record in office to attack.
Donald Trump wants to call names, fine. I have one for Ron DeSantis: tell ‘Lockdown Donald’ to consider his own disastrous COVID-19 record. If I was advising Ron DeSantis, I would tell him to hit Trump hard by saying he followed Anthony Fauci’s policies for nearly six months and destroyed the U.S. economy, kept kids out of the classroom, and pushed a vaccine that never worked as was intended.
Oh and if Trump fires back, Ron DeSantis can explain to ‘Donald Debt’ that his solution to save the nation from his lockdowns – $6 Trillion in debt that we won’t ever be able to pay back – was a mistake and only burdens future generations of Americans. In fact, Mike Pompeo has already hit Trump on this point. DeSantis needs to exploit that fact.
My point is this: if Ron DeSantis wants a shot at beating Donald Trump he needs to adopt the man’s style and steal some of that Trump charisma. He needs to understand how Trump came to dominate the GOP – it was always style over substance that created MAGA. If he comes off as another boring politician trying to be some sort of Trump-lite, well, he is going to lose.
Sure, insulting nicknames alone won’t win Ron DeSantis the GOP crown, but it could certainly help.
Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive and serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar role in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of the book The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.