Journalist rips Ron DeSantis’ 'ridiculous' and 'irksome' quest for 'place-based authenticity'

Journalist rips Ron DeSantis’ 'ridiculous' and 'irksome' quest for 'place-based authenticity'

In his new book, "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival," MAGA Republican Ron DeSantis isn't shy about resorting to identity politics.

The far-right Florida governor declares, "I was geographically raised in Tampa Bay, but culturally, my upbringing reflected the working-class communities in Western Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio — from weekly church attendance to the expectation that one would earn his keep. This made me God-fearing, hard-working and America-loving."

Although the 44-year-old DeSantis has yet to make a formal announcement, he certainly sounded like he was planning to run for president when he made that comment — which was right out of the GOP's familiar "the real America" playbook.

READ MORE: A majority of Republican voters view GOP attacks on LGBTQ+ rights as 'political theater'

Washington Post opinion writer Paul Waldman is vehemently critical of DeSantis' comment in his May 4 column, arguing that it is "ridiculous" and "irksome" when Republicans equate one's geographical location with "authenticity."

"Whenever a candidate, even an undeclared one, tells you they represent the superior values of a particular state or region — almost invariably, from the rural, manufacturing or Appalachian heartlands — they're usually trying to capture the downscale and traditional appeals of those places," Waldman explains. "They want to convince you their roots are more worthy of national office than those of places supposedly less saturated in realness, even if the latter is where most Americans live."

Waldman adds, "It might seem as though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wouldn't even try to play this game, seeing as he hails from America's most surreal state, where people throw alligators through drive-through windows and call 911 to get a ride to Hooters. DeSantis (R) grew up in the town of Dunedin, a perfectly ordinary suburb of Tampa. Love him or hate him, there is nothing hardscrabble or poetic about DeSantis' life story."

DeSantis is hardly the first Republican to play the identity politics card. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for example, described rural areas as "the real America," implying that people who grow up in Massachusetts or California aren't truly American.

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"Whatever distinguishes DeSantis from other Republicans," Waldman writes, "it's not his 'Ohio values,' because there isn’t any such thing…. Every place has its own identity, but the idea that 'values' can only be found in certain locales is repulsive. The truth is that every corner of America contains the hard-working and the lazy, the generous and the selfish, those who struggle and those who don't."

READ MORE: Family values and flipping cars: Kevin McCarthy interviews Donald Trump, Jr.

Read Paul Waldman's full Washington Post column at this link(subscription required).

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