Ron DeSantis was given a lot of credit in conservative policy circles for how he handled COVID-19.
He could use that in contrast to Trump. Some might even call it his ‘secret weapon’:
Save the random few people in a grocery store wearing masks, many Americans have put the trauma of COVID-19 behind them.
While it’s wonderful to move on from many of the inexcusable policies the pandemic instigated, particularly here in California, people should not allow the pandemic to fade into obscurity so easily.
Especially not Ron DeSantis.
Trump listened to the advice of Anthony Fauci to shut down the country, which was understandable at the time.
Fauci was the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health. DeSantis, albeit with regrets, followed the former president’s lead.
DeSantis Reverses Course Against National COVID Agenda
But he was also the first to change course when it became evident the data that served as a rationale for the shutdowns was flawed.
The result was that Florida’s economy bounced back quickly. Children’s education did not dip as drastically, if at all, as a result of school shutdowns.
Florida quickly became the beacon of freedom, a refuge for those living in states like California and New York. Even radical left-wing politicians responsible for the draconian policies in their state, like AOC, sought asylum in Florida.
Residents of Florida rewarded the governor with a historic win for a second term. DeSantis defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points.
Of course, Trump couldn’t let such a large victory for a once-friend, now foe, slide. He had to remind everyone that he garnered more votes in Florida than DeSantis in the 2020 presidential election. Never mind that the two were vying for different offices.
Operation Warp Speed
Trump trumpeted the vaccine that resulted from his “Operation Warp Speed” effort as “one of the greatest achievements of all time.”
Even if the vaccines were effective in reducing symptomology, comparing them to the likes of electricity or air travel demonstrates an insane level of hubris.
Increasingly, the claim that the vaccines, and their multiple boosters, are 100% “safe and effective” is in doubt.
Yet, Trump won’t back down.
In one of his more confrontational moments, Trump defended the vaccine to Candace Owens when she questioned him about his stance.
“I came up with a vaccine, with three vaccines,” Trump told Owens. “All are very, very good. Came up with three of them in less than nine months. It was supposed to take five to 12 years.”
We now know they are not “very, very good.” The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is no longer available in the U.S. due to safety concerns. The CDC ordered all surplus, about 12.5 million, to be destroyed.
Trump also prophesized that had it not been for the vaccine, the country would have had another Spanish Flu on its hands. That is patently false.
Vaccines are never the first line of defense in a pandemic and despite the speed of the release of the first COVID vaccination, the death toll wouldn’t have even come close to the 50 million that perished in 1918.
While Trump spoke out against mandates at the time, he continues to tout the vaccines and his performance during COVID.
This does not sit well with many conservatives and even liberals who questioned the vaccinations or decided, for whatever reason, it was not for them.
The Disasters of the Future
Everyone from the BBC to Bill Gates has already claimed we should be getting ready for the next “big one” caused by anything from possums in Australia to pigs in Europe, or fungi from anywhere, and that it’s likely to happen sooner than we think.
Whether global warming or a virus, wars or wildfires, the source of devastation is irrelevant. As Niall Ferguson points out in his book “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe,” the distinction between natural and man-made disasters is artificial and there will always be a crisis for rulers to cater to.
The pandemic offers broader implications regarding principles of governance during crises. Americans need to decide not only what kind of leader they want when disaster strikes, but also what their expectations are of government and its ability to wield power over the electorate.
Governor Ron DeSantis offered a model of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic for all to replicate. He used data and historical evidence to formulate clear, levelheaded tactics. He protected Florida’s most vulnerable and enacted policy to mitigate as much risky behavior as possible that wrought minimal damage to his constituents’ economy and overall well-being.
Never has there been greater uncertainty about the future – and greater ignorance about the past.
The cost of ignoring the lessons of COVID as well as all catastrophes of the past will be higher than what the world, and specifically America, can tolerate. Its national coherence is fragile and it weakens daily with every devastating news report.
The country needs a strong but level-headed, honest leader that can admit mistakes and adjust the course of action when needed.
While both men have succumbed to political squabble from time to time, DeSantis has displayed moments of humility. It is a virtue crucial in leadership and something Trump sorely lacks. That might a real ‘secret weapon’ after all.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review.