Ron DeSantis Wants To Fake His Way To The Presidency, And It Could Work
Conservatives Love Being Mad About Things That Don't Exist
To live in the make believe world of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, one has to believe in a series of interlocking fairy tales, conspiracy theories, lies, and hoaxes. On a regular schedule, flanked by a group of supporters, DeSantis holds news conferences in which he announces some major step he has taken to take on some boogeyman that exists in the minds of conservative voters.
One day he’s fighting Twitter for censoring the right (it hasn’t been). The next day he’s taking on Disney for trying to make kids gay or transgender (it isn’t). Another day he’s going after massive left-wing voter fraud that is rampant (not a thing). And on and on.
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DeSantis is on the airwaves constantly to tell conservative voters that he is rolling up his sleeves and keeping them safe from a host of threats that simply do not exist. He appears so often on Fox News to stoke those fears and target those voters that by now he must have a custom coffee cup or two in the network’s green room.
But despite the fakery at DeSantis’ very core, the anger he has cultivated is extremely real. Those conservative voters and activists aren’t playacting when they profess to be outraged by phantom voter fraud and imaginary temptations from Mickey Mouse. They believe every word of it and for many of those people when they hear DeSantis’ buffoonish thuggery, it motivates them — to get violent, to get loud, and to vote.
It should not be dismissed or ignored. It is a winning right-wing formula that has worked time and time again.
The right can’t make much hay of liberal solutions that, while not picture perfect, have a pretty good track record of making people’s lives measurably better, safer, and healthier. So instead the conservative movement has to make a lot of noise about extremely fake things. That is the secret sauce behind the Republican Party and its media arm at Fox News and on right-wing radio.
Keeping conservatives constantly mad about one made up thing or the next is how, under economic recoveries from multiple Democratic presidents - Clinton, Obama - the right has been able to attain political power.
Contrary to the Republican drumbeat at the time, Bill Clinton was not turning the federal government into a gun-grabbing arm of the New World Order during his first term in office. Similarly, Barack Obama was not socializing medicine and killing off seniors in death panels in his first term. Obama spectacularly failed to convert America into a Marxist utopia with reparations for Black people during his entire eight years in office, even as the right spent every day — beginning before he was even in the presidency — warning us that it was happening.
America has not been overrun at the border by thuggish MS-13 terrorists making their way as far north as Maine, but conservatives turned out in millions to vote for Donald Trump in two consecutive presidential elections based on that myth.
As he tries to become a more acceptable variant of Trump (Trump minus the rage tweets and plus the knowledge of how legislating actually works), DeSantis is stoking the fake fires, working them well to get the right to believe he is a fighter.
It ultimately doesn’t matter if his proposals end up being laughed out of court or penalizing Disney, one of the biggest employers in his own state. The real-world fallout from his crusades don’t matter to the voters he is trying his best to attract and pull out of Trump’s shadow.
What matters to them is that DeSantis fills the role of the great fighter they have concocted in their minds, which they prefer over what they view as past Republican failure — people like John McCain, Mitt Romney, and even George W. Bush — who they now see as not “taking the fight” to the left as much as they should have.
It’s worthwhile to debunk and counter DeSantis’ lies. But even so, the anger he is pandering to should not be dismissed. It resembles something that already has an unfortunately impressive series of political wins already.
It has the ability to deliver DeSantis the presidency, a very real threat that should not be taken lightly.
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