Ron DeSantis Is In His Flop Era. He Can Still Ruin The Country.

Formerly considered one of the most optimal living escape hatches from Trumpism, Ron DeSantis is having a rough go of it. He’s alienating activists, disturbing donors, and just being weirdly unsettling to voters—leaving everybody with the impression that to know him is to hate him.

It is one thing to have charisma amidst the swamp chaos of Florida, and another thing altogether to maintain or expand it on a national stage, as former not-Trump contender, Jeb! could tell you. Politically, Florida is one of those states that seems so much more powerful and attractive from a distance, but when you’re there you realize that the temperature is about 10 degrees hotter than it looked, you can drink the air, and everyone is slightly unhinged — not a bad place to die, but definitely not the best place for political fortunes to live.

Which is a reminder that the greatest liability to DeSantis — besides being a black hole of human charisma — is the management of the state he runs. Brain drain is the result of his autocratic attacks on critical thinking, academic autonomy, and informing students that people other than straight white men exist and always have. The climate change he insists isn’t happening is tearing up essential infrastructure, heating up coastal waters to body temperature, inundating beaches with shit, and causing insurers to flee the state to cut their losses. And the attempts to build his own loyal paramilitary unit — presumably to stage some January 6th shenanigans just in case — have fortunately fizzled out with failed training, internal dissent, and attempted kidnapping and psyops on disabled military veterans. It’s not really the moment for a “make America Florida” kind of campaign, you know?

But as DeSantis bumbles and stumbles his way through this GOP primary summer, bleeding cash along the way, we shouldn’t forget how dangerous he is — and not just to the people of Florida. Despite the current calamity of his campaign, it’s worth remembering that he was providing a popular blueprint for Trumpism without Trump just a few months ago, and even if he’s no longer leading the field, he’s still the pied piper of policy and approach for wannabe replacements to the OG American autocrat. 

While voters are souring on DeSantis, the competition is learning from him: discarding the awkwardness and keeping the authoritarianism.

At the moment, it looks like none of his erstwhile rivals can take advantage of DeSantis’s fumbling faceplant into the primary season: Trump continues to consolidate the voter sentiment that DeSantis keeps bleeding out, donors are looking (and failing) to find an escape hatch, and the latter’s commitment to avoiding attacks on the former make it more and more likely that the Republican Party can’t kick its nasty Trump habit. But it would be such a chef’s kiss ending to all of this if, between failing to capture the doomed cult leader energy of Trump and seeding defeat at home with his emotionally empty, calculated cruelty, the DeSantis campaign turned out to be the electoral version of disaster dominoes, losing both the nomination to Trump and then the state itself to Democrats in November.

Truly, the final form of Florida Man.

Kaitlin Byrd
Kaitlin Byrd
Knows too much, thinks even more. Has infinite space in her heart for tea and breakfast for dinner. Really from New York, so always ready to cut a bitch.