Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is without a doubt the most effective Republican governor in the country today.
Having resisted both former President Donald Trump’s as well as current President Joe Biden’s draconian COVID-19 lockdown policies, the Florida governor has been one of the few leading lights in the fight against the Left’s Woke Supremacy.
For waging these fights on behalf of America’s personal liberty, many erstwhile Republican donors and voters have rallied behind the Florida governor in the last year. In fact, as the new year began, it was less clear that the GOP would automatically nominate former President Trump as their candidate for president in 2024 due to DeSantis’ rising popularity.
Donald Trump Declares War on Ron DeSantis
But the Trump side of the GOP would not brook compromise with or countenance defeat by the rising DeSantis (who is, without a doubt, the heir apparent to the “MAGA” movement begun during the 2016 Presidential campaign). The smear machine has gone into high-gear. DeSantis went from being the heir apparent to the Trump movement to a George Soros-loving globalist neoconservative overnight.
The forty-fifth president then engaged in his classic name-calling on social media when he took an old picture of the Florida governor from when DeSantis was a recent college graduate-turned-high-school-teacher at the prestigious Dalton School in Georgia, and insinuated that DeSantis was a pedophile. You see, DeSantis went to a party with a group of his recently graduated high school students (he was around 23 at the time and they were 18).
Next came the Democratic Party’s political hit on Trump in the form of the Manhattan district attorney’s indictment. According to Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, the former president lied on his tax forms about paying off the pornographic film star, Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about an alleged affair Trump had with her a decade earlier while at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.
Thus, Trump was indicted on exaggerated charges to stymie his campaign for presidency in 2024. What the Democrats ended up doing was boosting Trump’s campaign by allowing for Trump to play the victim of the Faceless Men who populate our “Deep State”.
It also gave Trump an immense amount of media coverage that essentially sucked the oxygen out of whatever insurgent movement from the Right that Ron DeSantis was leading against Trump.
Trump and the OODA Loop Presidency
Trump has always been a kinetic actor. Back in 2016, those of us who had the fortune of observing Trump’s campaign up-close used to joke that the real estate mogul-turned-reality television superstar embodied John Boyd’s famous “OODA Loop” (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) that is now taught to US fighter pilots, business leaders, and anyone interested in being a dynamic leader.
Trump outmaneuvered his foes with speed; he rarely played by their rules. In fact, Trump often coopted Leftist talking points (such as insisting upon preserving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) and shoving these talking points down his opponent’s throats. He was wily operator and was always hard to pin down.
Once in government, however, Trump reminded me of Robert Redford at the end of The Candidate. Having won an unlikely victory, sitting late at night with his inner circle at the former Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump gave off serious Robert Redford “What do we do now?” vibes.
Trump’s presidency was the embodiment of this stark realization.
I’ve had the benefit of working on multiple political campaigns and in the US government. My friends and I used to joke about the differences between the promises of a political campaign next to the realities of government being akin to those of the promises people make to each other while they’re dating versus the realities of actually being married forever. It’s more fun and easier to campaign for president than it is to being the president. Every elected leader goes through this stark realization at some point. Most rise to the occasion.
Trump never did.
Put another way, he was the dog who caught the car. All the kinetic energy he deployed to great effect in the 2016 campaign served to undermine his presidency. In fact, the very things that made Trump a dynamic campaigner who was able to best both the Clinton and Bush political dynasties was precisely how his enemies in Washington, D.C. were able to box him in and, inevitably, destroy him.
As a septuagenarian who was already worth billions of dollars when he was elected, who had a strong media following, Trump was disinclined to change in serious way. So, the Faceless Men Trump had spent his campaign raging against got the last laugh—and they continue manipulating him because he’s so easily manipulated.
Ron DeSantis the Disciplined
DeSantis, on the other hand, is a disciplined, well-intentioned, moral man.
He has governed methodically and has remained poised even under the most egregious attacks. Certainly, he would be a competent and honorable president who would restore American greatness in the way that he has maintained Florida’s greatness during these trying four years.
What’s more, DeSantis embodies the nascent MAGA ethos that has formed over the last four years. DeSantis can beat any Democrat that would possibly challenge him in the 2024 General Election.
The problem is that DeSantis, under current conditions, cannot beat Trump. But, as Churchill said, time heals all wounds. DeSantis has $100 million in reserve. He has yet to officially announce his bid for the presidency. While I believe he must announce this week in order to steal some publicity from Trump and start generating headlines of his own, the fact is that DeSantis is currently leading critical policy fights that make Republican voters salivate—and those fights, such as the one against Disney for its obscene Woke agenda, are only getting started.
Ron DeSantis is a true insurgent in much the same way that Trump was in 2016. Yet, his style and the present moment are different from 2016. Trump is the powerhouse in the GOP today whereas the forty-fifth president was the upstart eight years ago.
DeSantis might not be able to be as kinetic of an actor as Trump, but perhaps DeSantis can withstand Trump’s attacks long enough to show fence-sitting GOP primary voters that he has the wherewithal to survive and thrive—like actual insurgents do, playing for time and slowly draining their larger opponents.
Yes, DeSantis’ poll numbers have plummeted among likely GOP voters since the Trump indictment. Yet, each time that Trump launches fusillades against DeSantis at his rallies or on social media, many Republican voters appear uncomfortable and upset and, other than the few sycophants Trump has surrounded himself with on his campaign, none are ecstatic about the attacks the way they were about Trump’s attacks on JEB! Bush and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Governor DeSantis must endure.
Voters and Their Trump Fatigue
Trump will ultimately burn himself out and voters will likely get Trump fatigue as they did in 2020. DeSantis must announce soon—again, preferably this week—to steal some thunder from Trump. But, he must also focus heavily on his future debate performance against Trump. This is a weakness of DeSantis.
He did not do well in his debates for governor with Democrat Andrew Gillum. DeSantis was just all right in his debate against Charlie Crist in 2022. Trump is a dynamic actor on stage. DeSantis needs to work on his presentation and scoring some critical hits on a Trump who will be surly and hilarious on stage.
If Ron DeSantis can continue bleeding Trump throughout the 2024 GOP primary, withstanding Trump’s scurrilous attacks, sending back some pointed ripostes, and then putting on a magnificent show for their debate, I believe DeSantis will be able to overcome whatever advantages Trump presently enjoys.
Once DeSantis overcomes the forty-fifth president, then, the Florida governor can take on whoever the Democrats will place as their nominee and defeat them. DeSantis must endure. He cannot wait until 2028. He must initiate his campaign now and act as a political insurgent against Trump. That’s how Ron DeSantis wins. It’ll be one for the books.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.