Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has been the darling of the New Right for the last few years. Beginning with his heroic stance against extreme COVID-19 pandemic measures through his necessary opposition to radical Leftist social and education policies, DeSantis has time-and-again proven himself to be the best person to lead the Republican Party into the next decade.
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Sadly for Florida’s MAGA Republican governor, the orange shadow of former President Donald J. Trump looms larger over DeSantis’ potential presidential bid.
Orange Man Looms Large
Whereas Ron DeSantis began with so much promise heading into the 2024 Presidential Election, the fact that he has resisted announcing his campaign for the GOP nomination (when Trump already announced in November of last year, despite the fact that almost all of Trump’s handpicked candidates categorically lost in the 2022 Midterms) hasn’t helped the Florida governor.
Trump is viewed by the GOP base as a “fighter” who will buck the political correctness orthodoxy of the day and dedicate his time to only “owning the Libs.”
As he does this, Trump castigates DeSantis as a mealy-mouthed “Republican In Name Only” (RINO) who serves the globalists’ interests of bringing America down from within (even though Trump supported DeSantis’ two bids for Florida governor and has taken credit for DeSantis’ historic success as Florida governor).
DeSantis has been billed by supporters as the anti-Trump in that he is highly educated, extremely disciplined, thoughtful, doesn’t get too involved in online and media drama, and is a “just-the-facts-ma’am” kind of political operator. Trump, meanwhile, is clearly America’s id. Name-calling, divisiveness, and blood-knuckle politicking is the Trump Way today.
This gets Trump much media attention—far more than anything that DeSantis can glean.
So, even though it’s mostly bad press, Trump continues soaking up all the free media that’s available for campaign coverage (and then some) while Ron DeSantis is still ambling around going to book events and closed donor meetings.
Trump Donald is America’s Id
It’s not a good look for a guy who might potentially want to take on the orange ogre. Timidity in the face of such a personality will not galvanize the GOP base, who again, is looking for a “fighter” (whatever that means).
Never mind that Trump accomplished little legislatively and essentially created his own problems—while failing to drain the swamp as he had promised to do—whereas DeSantis has accomplished legislatively the most MAGA agenda of any leader in America (including former President Trump).
Speaking of the donors, DeSantis is clearly their preferred candidate. Yet, the donors are cringing at the recent collapse in polling that DeSantis has suffered—especially since Trump trained his ire on DeSantis and in the aftermath of the clearly partisan witch hunt that is the Manhattan DA’s recent indictment of the forty-fifth president.
That, more than anything else, has given Trump the heft he needs to overcome what was until very recently DeSantis’ sizable and growing advantages in the coming GOP Primary battle.
The donors are now getting second-thoughts about DeSantis’ chances. In fact, many top GOP donors are starting to encourage DeSantis to simply sit on his whopping $100 million war chest and keep his powder dry until 2028. DeSantis, ever the political operator, appears inclined to listen to these donors.
Trump Can Win Primaries All Day Long, But Can’t Win the General Election
And I’m here to tell the DeSantis team that this is a major mistake. Because Trump isn’t going to be the next president. Under current conditions, he’ll likely get the GOP nomination, but he is going to lose to the Democratic Party’s nominee for the same reason that Trump is likely to win the GOP Primary: his personality is simply too divisive.
DeSantis has taken a beating in the polls recently and he has failed to secure critical media attention. Although, that may soon be changing as his ongoing war with the Disney Corporation intensifies and as he takes on other critical social issues, such as abortion and gun rights. Trump isn’t talking about any of these things and is preternaturally incapable of doing that. He’s only able to kvetch about his current woes and talk about himself. Over time, this is going to get very old for a sizable portion of voters—even in the GOP.
The Florida governor has a rapidly closing window to wrestle some media attention away from the grievance-mongering Trump and toward himself. I would argue he must announce this week that he is running for president. He might not win.
But who cares?
He’s keeping himself relevant and he’s offering a stabler, viable alternative to the gonzo Donald Trump (who is, let’s face it, America’s Berlusconi).
Whereas the political strategists believe that keeping his head down until 2028 will somehow preserve DeSantis’ status as the heir-apparent, they seem to forget that four years from now is an eternity in politics. DeSantis’ legendary stances against Woke-ism and COVID-19 measures will have been old news by that point. Likely some other Republican—a totally Trump-backed Republican—will be the new darling of the Right.
Run, Ron, Run!
By running now, DeSantis offers himself as an acceptable alternative to the insanity of the neoconservative/neoliberal Republican establishment as well as a better choice than the completely erratic Donald Trump. The best kind of campaign to run against Trump would be the insurgent campaign in 2024.
Trump will play smashmouth politics while DeSantis simply grounds on, wearing people down, reminding them that he is also MAGA—but without the baggage. Given how visceral the opposition from Trumpland has been toward DeSantis, DeSantis scares them the most.
But Ron DeSantis now needs to get out of his own way. Stop listening to those advising caution. Embrace the fight. Nothing leads to victory like movement. He’s going to need fight for every minute of media attention and announcing this week will change the debate and refocus attention on him and away from the orange fireball. The longer the campaign goes on, the more Trump continues popping off and aggravating people, the more likely DeSantis’ appeal will grow.
And if DeSantis can achieve some real policy victories in his ongoing fights against an increasingly imperial federal government as led by President Joe Biden and against Disney, enough voters will see the light, and come to favor DeSantis.
None of this will happen if he waits until 2028.
If Ron DeSantis delays another week to announce his bid, he won’t ever be president—either in 2024 or 2028. That’s because by then the world will have passed DeSantis by.
Embrace the fight now and start swinging, Governor DeSantis. You’ve already sat out this campaign for far too long. The party and the country needs you today not in 2028. If you don’t have the gumption to stand and fight when destiny calls you then I don’t ever want you.
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.