Conservative: ‘Authoritarian’ Ron DeSantis may be even more ‘dangerous’ than Donald Trump
All over the United States, Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms have been begging former President Donald Trump for his endorsement. But one far-right MAGA Republican who, according to polls, appears to be heading for a reelection victory without Trump’s help is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Although he is campaigning on MAGA themes, DeSantis hasn’t asked for Trump’s endorsement — and if Trump doesn’t run for president in 2024 and DeSantis does, the Florida governor may be the Republican with the best chance of winning the GOP nomination.
DeSantis is often described as being very Trump-like from a policy standpoint, but smarter and with a lot more self-discipline. That combination, according to Never Trump conservative and Washington Post opinion columnist Max Boot, could make DeSantis even more “dangerous” than Trump.
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is having a moment,” Boot observes in his July 6 column. “Pundits are suggesting that the January 6 hearings, by exposing former President Donald Trump’s complicity in a coup attempt, will redound to DeSantis’ benefit in 2024. Already, a poll in New Hampshire shows DeSantis topping Trump. The question, from the standpoint of those of us who have a sentimental attachment to American democracy, is: Which man is a bigger threat to the republic?”
Boot goes on to discuss a DeSantis profile that was written by journalist Dexter Filkins and published by The New Yorker on June 20. Filkins wrote that while Trump “projects a fundamental lack of seriousness, DeSantis has an intense work ethic, a formidable intelligence, and a granular understanding of policy.” And that description of DeSantis’ demeanor, Boot writes: reminds him of “another disgraced Republican president”: Richard Nixon.
“Smart and disciplined but reclusive and unpleasant — who does that remind you of? That’s right: Richard M. Nixon,” Boot writes. “ And I don’t mean the Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency, implemented affirmative action, went to China and took other surprisingly liberal steps. DeSantis has never shown any similar willingness to challenge his base.”
Boot continues, “I’m thinking of the Nixon who smeared his opponents…. and warred with the press…. I’m thinking of the Nixon who employed the government against his ‘enemies list,’ catered to White bigotry — the Southern strategy — and exacerbated social divisions in an attempt to mobilize the Silent Majority against liberal elites.”
\u201cDeSantis reminds me not of Trump but of Nixon. A Yale teammates said he was \u201csmart\u201d but also \u201cthe biggest d---k we knew.\u201d A former House colleague said: \u201cHe\u2019s a little reclusive, a bit of an odd duck \u2026 but he\u2019s just incredibly disciplined.\u201dhttps://t.co/P7e2QD6Fs3\u201d— Max Boot \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Max Boot \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1657105211
Boot, in essence, views DeSantis as someone who combines some of Nixon’s worst qualities with some of Trump’s worst qualities.
“DeSantis seems hellbent on carrying on the disreputable legacy of Tricky Dick, and with even less respect for democratic norms than Nixon displayed,” Boot argues. “Indeed, he wages culture war with a ruthlessness that recalls Nixon during the bombing of Cambodia. DeSantis signed legislation severely curtailing mask and vaccine mandates for businesses and local governments…. DeSantis refuses to say whether President Biden was legitimately elected and criticizes the January 6 committee hearings.”
Boot continues, “He created a special task force to police voter fraud even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud. In the name of election security, he also pushed through a bill restricting voting rights that was largely struck down by a federal judge as unconstitutional. A DeSantis-backed ‘anti-riot’ bill, passed in response to Black Lives Matter rallies, was blocked by another federal judge for infringing on the First Amendment. DeSantis signed a ‘don’t say gay’ law restricting discussion of gender and sexuality issues in public schools — and then took away tax breaks from Disney for criticizing the legislation.”
Boot wraps up his column on a disturbing note, arguing that a DeSantis presidency might be even more dangerously “authoritarian” than Trump’s presidency.
“In short, DeSantis is engaged in one of the most alarming assaults on free speech and academic freedom since the dark days of McCarthyism in the 1950s, when Nixon rose to power,” Boot warns. “His actions may not be as blatant as inciting a mob to attack Congress, but his record reveals a troubling pattern of authoritarianism and vindictiveness that would be extremely dangerous in the Oval Office. Just because DeSantis is smarter than Trump doesn’t mean that he is any less dangerous. In fact, he might be an even bigger threat for that very reason.”
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