George Will: How 'cheerful malcontent' Doug Ducey could save the GOP from another Trump disaster
In 2020, Washington Post columnist and outspoken Never Trumper George Will was among the conservatives who announced that he would be voting for Joe Biden for president — a group that also included Cindy McCain (the late Sen. John McCain’s widow), former Sen. Jeff Flake, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and attorney George Conway, among many others. Will, who despises Trump so much that he left the Republican Party because of his influence, was glad to see Biden win in 2020.
But Will has often been critical of Biden’s presidency. In a November 2 column, he implored Biden to “not seek another term” — arguing that someone else in the Democratic Party would have a better chance of defeating Trump in 2024. And Will would be glad to see a conservative back in the White House in 2025 if that person is someone other than Trump and isn’t overly MAGA.
In his December 7 column, Will suggests outgoing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey as a 2024 presidential candidate. Trump is very anti-Ducey, often slamming the conservative two-term governor as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) for rejecting the Big Lie, acknowledging that Biden won Arizona fair and square in 2020, and certifying Biden’s Arizona victory. But to Will, getting on Trump’s bad side is a plus, not a minus, for conservatives.
“Ducey has been a full-spectrum conservative,” Will argues. “Arizona has the nation’s lowest — 2.5 percent — flat income tax, and a $1.4 billion rainy day fund. Nineteen states have emulated Arizona’s pioneering law that requires students to pass a civics test before graduating from high school. Second Chance Center programs help inmates reenter society. Legislation protects girls’ sports from unfair competition, and children from irreversible gender reassignment surgery before age 18.”
Will likes the non-MAGA tone that Ducey brought to a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in September.
The Arizona governor told the crowd, “A dangerous strain of big-government activism has taken hold (in the Republican Party)…. For liberty’s sake, we need to fight it with every fiber in our beings…. A vocal corner of conservative politics is defined more by attitude — and anger — than commitment to a specific set of ideals…. (They) are just as happy bossing us around and telling us — and businesses — how to lead our lives as the progressive left is.… And yes, a good many small-government conservatives have morphed into bullies — people who are very comfortable using government power to tell companies and people how to lead their lives.… We are sharpening the knife the left will eventually use on us.”
With that speech, Will writes, Ducey “distanced himself from national conservatives, and perhaps from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a brawler against woke corporations: e.g., Disney.”
The fact that Trump and his MAGA devotees consider Ducey a RINO could hurt him in a Republican presidential primary if he decided to run. But Will believes that Ducey is among the GOP governors who — like “New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu, Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, Ohio’s Mike DeWine” — could have a strong platform if he ran.
“Ducey, like Arizona’s first presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, is a cheerful malcontent,” Will argues. “Like Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee, Ducey says, ‘I’m a conservative. I’m just not angry about it.’”
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