Much of what lies ahead can be perfectly summed up in this tweet from American historian Kevin Kruse.
“Bone-crushingly stupid” is a good descriptor for much of what’s to come. DeSantis will absolutely go for it when it comes to jokes about Melania’s reluctance to participate in the Trump campaign. Trump will never tire of going after DeSantis’ waist and his booster boots. (“Why does Ron DeSantis hate Disney? Because they won’t let him ride Space Mountain.” That stuff writes itself.)
It’ll be like all the “conservative comedians” Fox News has tried to squeeze into a late-night show. Except this program is going to be on all outlets for a lot longer than it took any of those Fox shows to run. If you think the level of national discourse couldn’t be lower, prepare to be surprised.
Whoever gets into the most revolting dig can score points on the Republican debate scene, but sadly, that’s not the only way these two are going to compete. As CNN reports, DeSantis has already clarified his strategy. He searches for every point where Trump can be seen as less than fully committed to a hard straight, then he positions himself to Trump’s right. And if the line needs to be moved to give it room, DeSantis will move it.
Trump gets carried away like the guy who was “capable of killing Roe v. Wade,but that still leaves room for DeSantis to sign increasingly onerous bills drafted by the subservient Florida legislature. DeSantis just scored a huge victory with the more extreme elements of the Republican Party by signing a reproductive rights bill so onerous that Trump called it “too tough.” It’s a dream answer for DeSantis. Harsh? You think it’s hard? He will show you hardDonald wimp.
DeSantis is working hard to show he’s more pro-gun than Trump. More anti-immigrant than Trump. No more anti-education. More anti-science. Much more anti-science.
DeSantis sees the fact that Trump was around when the COVID-19 vaccine was developed as one of his great openings, and the first step is to eradicate the restrictive grip of evidence, facts and centuries of learning on the medical practices. It is not enough to appoint a general practitioner who modifies the results of scientific articles. If that means signing a bill that will allow doctors who have such wild ideas they’re not allowed near a scalpel at any other state practice in Florida, DeSantis will go for it proudly. He calls him “medical freedom“, and if that means your new doctor doesn’t believe in the germ theory of disease, well, that’s fine.
DeSantis’ bill forces hospitals to provide patients with treatments that don’t work, despite what they’ve heard on Twitter. It prevents the use of whole swaths of future vaccines, including some that prevent various forms of cancer. And it prevents medical boards from revoking doctors’ licenses for trivial things like massive and ongoing malpractice. It is a bill that brings medical standards back to the point where most surgeries were performed by barbers.
But then, Florida has a lot of leeches that need work.
It’s just an invoice. DeSantis signed him last week with a real goal, and that goal has nothing to do with medical treatment in Florida. He signed it because it positions him well to the right of Trump and sanity.
This bill is not a destination, it is a signpost. DeSantis goes in that direction on every issue. No more restrictions that force schools to teach only a prescribed version of right-wing history. Make it easier to ban award-winning books. More effort to destroy teaching as a profession and transform classrooms into combinations of indoctrination centers and enclosures.
And when it comes to immigration, DeSantis is already making Florida the wet dream state of diehards. That the restrictions he has already signed are crippling Florida’s major industries of construction, agriculture and tourism does not even register on the republican dial. Because none of these policies are meant to make things better. Or even pretend to make things better. The Republican Party has left this place.
And, of course, DeSantis ticks all the boxes on the gun list. Bills and executive orders doubled the protection of the rights of arms manufacturers and arms dealers. At the same time, DeSantis didn’t just demand a bill to remove training requirements from state concealed carry permits; he wants to completely eliminate these permits. He also wants to eliminate the “hidden” part. After all, what modern Republican can safely pick up a six-pack at Publix without waving an AR-15 through the aisles?
New York Review may have called DeSantis the “lesser evil,” but that’s not true. And if there’s an issue where that may be true, DeSantis only sees it as a challenge.
So far, much of Trump’s response — when he’s not pondering this crucial nickname selection — has simply been in the form of mimicking DeSantis positions. DeSantis banning the books? Trump says he would ban the books. DeSantis says he will gut education in universities so no one will ever again be offended by the specter of diversity or history outside of the Heritage Foundation’s definition, Trump is just there with a plan to “reclaim our former great educational institutions from the radical left” using the “secret weapon” of the “college accreditation system”. Which is really something when you consider that Donald Trump’s own Trump University was fined $25 million for defrauding students.
What Trump means by this is that his plan would effectively ban any diversity, equality or inclusion training. Do not give up on these courses and every degree offered by your university will no longer be considered real. It doesn’t stop when courses in these areas end. It would require anyone who participated in such training to be fired because, according to Trump, diversity and equality are “Marxist” plots.
What students would get from this new Universal Trump University is a degree that honors “American tradition and Western civilization.” Stonewall Jackson? Hero. Harriet Tubman? Wait… who is that?
It might seem that these direct, undisguised plans of indoctrination by DeSantis and Trump would be the most extreme positions. But no position is ever the most extreme. Six months from now, both will denounce this position as so liberal that it might as well be taught by Antifa and sponsored by George Soros.
Every move DeSantis has is to position himself further to the right. Trump’s only counter is to either tie or pass DeSantis. Remember all those stories from the past about “the Overton Window” and the steps the Republican Party worked through to make radical ideas more palatable to the public? Forget them. Overton was defenestrated years ago. Trump and DeSantis are just going to implant new positions that are increasingly (and increasingly, increasingly) awful. Then they’ll turn around and laugh at each other for not being awful enough.
Maybe this bossy leapfrog game will take the GOP off a cliff. This seems a likely conclusion. But it’s just as likely that he’ll leave behind a long list of positions, and millions of Americans to support them, that are so much worse than anything ever voiced, that we can’t imagine them from our warm and cozy place here in the oh- so stable and reasonable 2023.
This “Florida Man” primary is going to hurt. Pray that those who suffer the most are Trump and DeSantis.
Way to Win’s Jennifer Fernandez Ancona joins Markos and Kerry to talk about the new messaging the Democratic Party national candidates are using in 2024. Ancona was right about the messaging needed to win midterms, and we think she’s right about 2024.