Trumpism without Donald Trump has long been a fantasy of the GOP donor class. Plenty of things about the Trump presidency generally delighted Republicans, like the tax breaks for the wealthy, the desire to shrink the government and drown it in a bathtub. Hell, they may have even enjoyed the cruelty. But the sloppiness, the endless unforced errors—like attacking mail-in-voting and helping Republicans lose Georgia Senate seats in consecutive elections—well, no one likes that.
So now Ron DeSantis has emerged as not only the choice of the donor class, but also the favorite pet of Fox News and Turning Point USA. Yes, it turns out that being slightly less disgusting, a good bit more coherent, than Trump, is a viable GOP lane. DeSantis is like Shakespeare compared to the former president. He doesn’t talk about grabbing people by their genitals or dating his daughter. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that these days Trump is the poor man’s DeSantis, which is pretty ironic because DeSantis created himself in the image of Trump.
But most pressing is that both of these men are cut from the same autocratic cloth. They are not the kind of leaders that we’re accustomed to seeing in a democracy. And yet some mainstream media outlets are pushing the narrative that DeSantis is a kinder, gentler version of Trump, who I’ve already argued should not be covered like a normal presidential contender. (DeSantis has yet to officially enter the 2024 fray, but could in the coming months.) There’s a fair bit of evidence to suggest DeSantis is as dangerous as Trump—if not more. [Continue reading…]