Ron DeSantis: The Biggest Guy in the Room
Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a native Floridian with blue-collar roots, hopes to be the next Republican presidential nominee. Currently Florida’s governor, he previously served as a federal prosecutor who targeted and convicted child predators. He was initially elected to Congress in 2012, advocating for congressional term limits and a balanced budget amendment.
Once called “the resume,” he is both a Yale graduate and a Harvard Law School graduate. He also received both the bronze star medal for meritorious service in the US Navy and the Iraq campaign medal. In addition, because he previously served in the United States Navy, he has been considered a “leading champion for America’s veterans, ” aiding in enacting reforms to the Veterans Affairs and emphasizing veterans’ mental health.
Now that there is a background of who exactly DeSantis is, the next step is figuring out who he hopes to be.
As the 2024 presidential election approaches, Republicans wonder who can represent their interests. DeSantis seems the obvious choice: beloved in right-wing legal circles, has close relationships with Fox News, and is “somebody who gets them [Republicans] out of having to defend Trump.” He is Trump “without the former president’s baggage,” essentially allowing Republicans to have a candidate with Trump’s views that is possibly more politically correct.
Despite this overt praise, DeSantis seems like he’s playing a role. In his political advertisement for governor, he teaches “Trump-ism” to his young children by laying a Trump flag over his baby or reading Trump’s autobiography to his other child, thereby implementing Trump’s values and subsequent personality traits into his children’s lives. In doing so, DeSantis garnered support from many more voters almost indoctrinated into Trump-ism.
Further, in his campaign store, he sells a pair of golf balls labeled “Florida’s governor has a pair.” DeSantis saw that Trump was successful and remained a prominent influence on politics because he commercialized his campaign using his slogan, “Make America Great Again.” So, through this merchandise, DeSantis seeks to become a similar caricature to dominate the Republican party and ultimately win the presidential election.
While he has never been a leading cultural and traditionalist warrior before - even dismissing Republican’s preoccupation with sexual identity and what he called the “bathroom wars ” - DeSantis has proven that he’s politically savvy. Clearly willing to further the far-right agenda, he emphasizes conspiracy theories about both the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and Anthony Fauci, even saying, “We choose freedom over Faucism, and we’re much better off doing that.” Furthermore, he built working relationships with Fox News and other conservative spokespeople: Alex Jones even called him “way better than Trump.” Further, he is beloved in right-wing legal circles and is especially close with conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom DeSantis called “our greatest living justice.”
As a part of his campaign for governor, he purposefully made enemies and became the Democrats' favorite Governor to despise. An example of this is during the overturning of Roe v. Wade: DeSantis found a 1930s precedent to suspend a prosecutor who “vowed not to criminalize abortion or transgender care.” DeSantis issued an executive order to suspend Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren because of Warren’s position on abortion and transgender care. In response, Warren accused DeSantis of “overstepping his authority and violating the twice-elected prosecutor’s First Amendment rights.” In a friend-of-the-court brief, 115 legal scholars condemned DeSantis, saying that Warren’s suspension was both performative and partisan and negated the will and power of the electorate as well as the separation of powers. Warren himself accused DeSantis of using his suspension to benefit politically.
His competition for the Republican candidacy for President, Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS), are less politically advanced than DeSantis for the following reasons. Firstly, DeSantis projects a political fearlessness that allows him to crush his adversaries because he takes what extremist right-wingers have already done and magnifies it. Next, he is single-minded about turning the gears of the state against the left’s agenda, such as the Stop W.O.K.E. Act. The Stop W.O.K.E. Act stops training, such as Critical Race Theory, in public schools that could make someone “feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race of sex.”
All in all, DeSantis’s character can be summed up in a single quote: “If you want to make a point, you make a point by punching the biggest guy in the room -” which, to him, seems to be the American left.