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Ron DeSantis and the failure of pseudo-Trumpism Republican voters want the real thing

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


January 22, 2024   4 mins

Now that Ron DeSantis has dropped out of the Republican primary race and endorsed Donald Trump, the race for the party’s presidential nomination has become more than just a battle of personalities — finally, it is a battle of ideas. With DeSantis’s pseudo-Trumpism firmly rejected, primary voters now have a choice between two ideological visions for the future of the party and the United States: Trumpism and pre-Trumpism.

Trumpism, at its core, is the American version of the transatlantic phenomenon of national populism. Local variants in the West differ, but they share common characteristics: opposition to mass immigration, for instance, as well as socially conservative programmes and protectionist trade policies previously favoured by the trade unions.

Many of these voters and their ancestors used to find a home in the parties of the centre-left, such as the New Deal Democrats in the US, Labour in the UK and the Social Democrats in Germany. But the replacement of the union by the university as their social and ideological base — now defined by identity politics, equity and a quasi-religious obsession with long-term climate change — has driven away these parties’ core supporters. At the same time, many have been repelled by the post-Thatcher and post-Reagan conservatives who sought to cut their government benefits, supported the mass importation of cheap labour from abroad, and backed inconclusive or doomed “forever wars” following 9/11.

Donald Trump was not the first candidate to seize this national-populist mantle in the US. In 1992, thanks to his economic nationalism, Ross Perot won more votes than any third-party contender for the White House since former president Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Populist candidates for the Republican presidential nomination such as Patrick Buchanan, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have also sounded national-populist themes, only to have their campaigns starved of funds by the party’s libertarian and globalist donor elite.

Trump was unique in that his wealth, along with small donor contributions, allowed him to personally fund much of his successful campaign to win the nomination in 2016, in spite of a big donor boycott. In the election that followed, he won because he appealed to national-populist voters, particularly in the deindustrialised swing states of the Midwest. He added their support to the existing Republican base of economic libertarians and evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics.

In different ways, DeSantis’s Pseudo-Trumpism and Nikki Haley’s Pre-Trumpism are attempts to build bridges between these raucous MAGA newcomers and the remnants of the older Bush Republican party — at least those who had not already quit the party out of disgust with the populist parvenus who have crashed the country club.

DeSantis, when he launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, looked like he might be able to bring together the different factions of the post-2016 Republican party. During the Sixties and Seventies, Richard Nixon managed to be acceptable both to the Goldwater-Reagan Right wing of the party and the moderate, business-backed “Rockefeller Republicans”.  In the same way, DeSantis sought to be “Trumpy” on immigration and culture-war issues, while implicitly signalling to traditional Republicans that he would not be as heretical as Trump on economics and foreign policy.

And on immigration at least, DeSantis successfully made the issue his own, by, among other things, signing into law a Florida statute mandating background checks by employers to discourage illegal immigrant employment (like many “far-Right” national populist proposals, this was a policy supported by many pro-labour Democrats as recently at the Nineties). In the culture war, too, DeSantis out-Trumped Trump. But DeSantis’s battle against the Walt Disney Company, which supported controversial sex education and gender policies, ultimately backfired by making him look more-than-a-little-ridiculous for waging a quixotic battle against the House of Mouse.

While DeSantis and his strategists were misled into thinking that America’s culture wars matter as much to Republican voters as they do to Republican pundits, Trump proved otherwise. In March last year, he attacked DeSantis for supporting cuts to the type of entitlement programmes cherished by national-populist voters when the Florida Governor was merely a conventional Republican representative in Congress. “People are finding out that Ron wanted to destroy Social Security and raise its minimum wage to 70, and he fought very hard to do it,” Trump declared. “He also had very strong plans for cutting Medicare and still does.”

This was a powerful argument: 79% of the public oppose Social Security benefit cuts and 67% oppose raising Medicare premiums. Among Republicans alone, nearly half — 42% — favour raising taxes on households that earn over $400,000 a year to cutting benefits, compared with only 37% who disagree with the idea. DeSantis weakly tried to fight back by repudiating his own former positions and by pointing out that Trump once said benefit cuts might be considered in the future — but the blows didn’t land.

As this suggests, however incoherent Trump may sometimes be, he has tapped into a worldview with certain coherent public policy positions, whether they be on government entitlements, immigration or forever wars. Members of the declining Republican establishment who hope that they can revive their old Bush-era programme of benefits cuts and foreign adventures, while pacifying national populist voters with performative denunciations of wokeness, will be disappointed by DeSantis’s failure. If there’s a conclusion to be drawn from his rise and fall, it’s that Trump voters want the real thing, not a placebo.

And for the same reason, if Pseudo-Trumpism is this month’s loser, then next month’s will surely be Trump’s remaining challenger. For who is Nikki Haley but the pre-Trumpist tasked with putting the old band of Bush-era libertarians, neoconservatives and corporate globalists back together? As much as they despise it, Trumpism is supported by a sizeable minority of the electorate. And even once he exits the political stage, the taste for national populism he has inspired is unlikely to disappear.


Michael Lind is a columnist at Tablet and a fellow at New America. His latest book is Hell to Pay: How the Suppression of Wages is Destroying America.


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Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
6 months ago

Here is the thing, when Republican voters said they were ready to move on from Trump what they meant was they wanted someone who would take his populist policies farther but without Trump’s baggage (even people who like him agree he has a lot). Many voters myself included hoped DeSantis would be that person. Then it fell apart shortly after he got on the campaign trail.
The first signs of trouble were when the Republican donor class rallied around the guy. Note, these are all people who hate the populist direction the party has taken and were hoping to take the party back to the Bush years (I call them the National Review crowd). They are still in for libertarian economics, strong state authority (they are lying when they say otherwise), and a counterproductively aggressive foreign policy. Voters’ fears were confirmed when DeSantis backed down on his Ukraine comments with barely a fight. The problem was not even the issue itself, it was how quickly he gave in to pressure. This helped cement suspicions that he would just go along with whatever the GOP establishment wanted. The other problem was DeSantis never seemed to make anyone in power uncomfortable. If people are looking for change you at least want a guy who will rock the boat a bit.
Another problem he had was his fight on culture war issues. Things like sexually explicit material targeting kids is a big deal but due to the nature of the country those are not problems everywhere so they will not always resonate as much outside of local politics. Then we get to his six week abortion ban. This really hurt him. DeSantis’s big argument was he was the electable candidate and Republicans have been losing big on abortion even in Republican strongholds.
DeSantis’s big problem was he thought that with a bit of clever politicking he could get the Bush neocons, the ambivalent middle, and the Trump populists on board. What happened is no one knew what he stood for and he picked out unpopular positions on things that Trump was more moderate on like entitlements. Apparently party leadership did not get the message the first time around so now it’s back to voting in the giant orange middle finger that also has a few good policy ideas.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

True, but more importantly he has no personality, not much wit or humor. Haley does, as does Trump of course.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

One wonders how he managed as Governor of Florida. Presumably his aides stopped him from talking to people.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

I live in Florida. He is wildly popular here for his skillful management of our booming state.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
5 months ago

You’ve even got the most profitable parts of Wall St down in Boca Raton

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
5 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Probably because they fled the hot mess that is New York.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Because of his extremely successful policies there. Talk to Floridians..

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago

There must be something strange in the water in Florida, because everybody else thinks that there are lizards under rocks with more engaging personalities than DeSantis.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Maybe that’s because he talks sense instead of showboating. Doesn’t go down well with most voters.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Yeah, it is really popular with voters. That is why DeSantis is currently leading in the race for the Republican nomination.

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

You dont understand the differences between state and US national politics with a throw away, emotionally based comment like this.

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5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

im in FL as well, political agnostic at this point with the DNC being one of the most corrupt political powers in the world and the RNC without brand cohesion. From Miami, I can tell you the Cuban and hispanic population have gone right becuase their kids are being transed in schools. To this community, family is all, and they do not condone elective castration, I have a colleague whose daughter is in a class with 34 other students, 24 are girls, 18 of them identify as transgender, with another few in a grey zone of not heterosexual. That leaves 2 girls in a largely hispanic classroom, american born, who are intereted in having normal developmentally essentail relationships with boys ther own age. This is a plague of social pathology we havent seen since the Salem witch era, playing out as reflected in our youth, directly from the fossils in the DNC beltway who live in a world that is gone. My friend is spending a fortune on a specialist psychologist to help her doughter recognize that identity issues are not synonymous with sexual orientation.. its a kind a sickness that unless you are seiing it first hand, you cant believe the hype.

D Walsh
D Walsh
6 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Haley is the Indian Hillary, only worse, pure scum. She represents everything wrong with US politics

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Not a very thoughtful post. (Paraphrasing one below!)…..

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Yes, she is the captive of Big Tech, Wall Street, RINOs and others of the usual-suspects category. And, tellingly, the discredited and mistrusted mainstream media love her — at least for now. If she gets the nomination they will turn on her like the pack of hyenas they are.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

I was a Ramaswamy suporter, but I might settle for Haley if she can stop Trump, because she is far more electable in the general than The Donald. Let’s see what happens in New Hampshire.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

Far more electable that Ramaswamy too.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Haley is likable. Hillary wasn’t.

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5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Haley is a relic, a neocon that will have us in more wars than Biden did. So yeah, if you like the homespun fake southern persona, wrapped over a second coming of d**k Cheney then she’s your gal! When oh when did policy stop mattering to adult thinking voters and the cult of personality consume everything in sight like a macrophage.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
5 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Personality, wit or humour shouldn’t matter in politics, I know it does but competence and functionality are overlooked, it is the Hollywood effect, that’s why Reagan did well, not sure about Arnie?

Steel Swift
Steel Swift
5 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

The Governator was not particularly effective, yet remains fairly well beloved.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Very thoughtful post. I like DeSantis much more than Trump. He’s just so much more competent IMO – not that I thought Trump was a bad president. I agree about the six-week abortion issue. It really bothered me – way too extreme and out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

What about his fight with Disney? Did that make sense on any rational level?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Two things. I think DeSantis was initially pissed that Disney thought it could push its weight around – rightly or wrongly. After awhile I think it enhanced his support with his voting base

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I would say the exact opposite. Before he announced his run for President, all I knew about DeSantis was that he was “successful State Governor”. The Disney fight was the first thing that alerted me to the fact that all was not right with him. I mean, threatening to build a jail next to Disney’s them park? Seriously?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Disney is not exactly the most beloved company in the world right now, for many reasons other than being woke. I doubt his voting base was bothered by it at all. There is zero chance he was building a prison beside a children’s theme park.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Why did he threaten do do it then? Sounds like “small man syndrome” to me. Maybe there was some truth in the rumour that he had lifts in his boots.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

A politician who blows smoke. Outrageous.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Trump blows smoke, but he isn’t weird and creepy when he does.

Marissa M
Marissa M
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

I agree. The Disney thing was just foolish from a business standpoint.
Trump would have pulled something out of his backside to make everyone happy in that scenario…because of the money.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Exactly, because Trump knows what “looks good” to people in general. On that topic, DeSantis is clueless.

Morten Hansen
Morten Hansen
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

No. Trump is just constantly weird and creepy

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Morten Hansen

I can see that argument, but Trump has charisma. DeSantis is a charisma-free zone.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

People with reasonably good memories recall that the left deceptively framed the fight as “don’t say gay”. It had nothing to do with that old straw man but that didn’t stop the untrustworthy legacy media (think of the BBC) from putting its shoulder to the wheel.

Steel Swift
Steel Swift
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Bob Iger whipped his ass.

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

For the state of FL, fiscally, it actually did, yeah..

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

One problem with Ron DeSantis is that he’s not the negotiator Donald Trump is. He’s too much the lawyer (the litigator not the business lawyer). He likes to fight, and to win, not to do deals and get things done. He’s win-lose, zero-sum. Donald Trump’s win-win, positive-sum. That makes a big difference in what an executive can accomplish.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Are we talking about the same Trump? He may like to make deals with the likes of Putin of Kim Young-un’, but otherwise he does not seem to have made much effort to make deals with anyone who is not mega-powerful and can flatter his ego.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I don’t know. He struck the Abraham Accords in the Middle East. The Saudis were, maybe still are, on the brink of a lasting piece with Israel, though perhaps not with Bibi in charge. We did not get into any new wars. Trump was right in warning the Europeans about over-reliance on a single energy source. And he was right about NATO. He’ll sit with Xi or anyone else. The man is far from perfect, but contrast his term with the current occupant.

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The MSM did not saturate the brains of their audience with the facts of that story, the Abraham Accords. It was brilliant and should have been a moment of pride for the citizenry as well, old school diplomatic effort, years in development pays off.. but no, the culture wars are what sells ad revenue (and government funding in the billions), so lets not broadcast stories like that one.. because we cant have any good things anymore. We will tell ourselves Trump is the reason, and the existential threat he poses, but really its old fashioned hate and avarice in the individuls own psyche.Then we wonder why our kids are mutilating, drugging, lobotomizing themselves. Its called a survival mechanism because they go online to learn how to be human beings in a complex world and find..what? Comments even here are partly throw away nonsense, from emotional trigger centers in the brain of the writer, who cant edit their own detritus or endeavor to share original thoughts that might uplift those they could be serving, instead of serving the self satisfying ego drives..

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Spot on – I don’t often agree with you – but it’s truly tragic that so many conservatives in the US have latched on to this narcissistic, self interested, attention span of a gnat, cannot get on with anyone on his own bloody side! crude, personally often repulsive figure as some sort of saviour.! Oh, 3 time loser to boot!

Yes he’s often funny and good at take downs. I think launching a national counter revolution takes a bit more than that however!

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I thought it was Obama who wanted to make deals with Putin after he was elected!!!!!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Nations make deals. Nothing wrong with that – if it is done competently. The problem comes in when you are willing to make sweetheart deals with nasty people and get nothing in return excedpt for a boost to your ego.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

u seem to have changed your tune a little Rasmus.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Which particular negotiating achievements do you attribute to Trump when he was in power?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

One does wonder. Do people want Trump in spite of his baggage or because of his baggage? Trump is entertaining and he is an a**ehole. Maybe that is what his voters want for their next president?

Anthony Roe
Anthony Roe
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Trump is box office….and look at the alternatives.

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

From your comment, Im going to guess youre comfortably middle class. Its nice being amused by the deplorables who believed the beltway bs for so many generations.. when was the last actual believable President..? Reagan? He did alright but lied about many things that allowed the country in the end to go left of woke.. Eisenhower? He told us the truth in the end, so B+. Truman??! Well he had a popularity problem because he wasnt flash like FDR, but if people knew what he did behind the scenes, without needing the credit, they would be as shocked as I was upon learning this. But then Truman wasnt college educated, nor a legacy, just a brilliant mind with a library he consumed and a decent moral compass.. Trump is the only option for the box that says other. When you make 20$ an hour and spend over half that on rent and taxes, as the average american, you might grok this from the inside out.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Style beats substance usually.
“no one knew what he stood for” is exactly backward. He stood for a 6 week abortion ban (big political mistake). No one really knows where Trump stands on this issue. Ron took a politically dangerous step in talking about entitlement reform. The American people don’t want to hear the truth.
The American people deserve whatever they get this November.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes, I agree with most of your points, especially that DeSantis didn’t defend his view about the Ukraine conflict and his 6 week abortion plan. He should have stuck to 12 weeks and mandatory counselling like in most European countries. But I liked him, because he didn’t cave in during Covid as Trump did, who seemed to have lost his way and followed wherever Fauci led. He even criticised Sweden as being crazy. Also Trump’s vaccination campaigns were wrong in my view. He should have stood firm on early treatments and preventions, but then hindsight is easy.
I think DeSantis mostly failed because he sadly didn’t seem to have any sense of humour ( like Reagan) or the human touch( like Obama and B.Clinton )

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

I am glad someone has finally mentioned Reagan, whom I regard as being the greatest US President of my lifetime.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

So do I

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

This was all before the Dems started their no-holds barred ‘republican take-down’ campaigns with hoaxes and smears. No Republican who approaches the seat of power will escape.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I like DeSantis as well but I was always suspicious he wasn’t as much of a populist as he appeared. He came to prominence mostly because of his COVID response, and that was a one off event that is over at this point. His anti-woke actions are commendable but a lot of them seemed ham handed. Unlike Abbott, his anti-immigration measures were mostly symbolic rather than systemic. His anti-corporatism took the form of trying to punish companies for putting their finger on social issues. That’s commendable, but it’s not as relevant at the national level, nor is there as much that can be actively done about it at that level. He’s never campaigned hard against the media, the deep state, or the globalist elite in the same way Trump and others have. He’s a lukewarm populist at best. I think he’s shown he doesn’t have the chutzpah to actually fight the power. The people looking for a Trump alternative are showing up in the high support for RFK. His campaign is almost entirely made of populists who don’t like Trump and disaffected and vengeful Sanders voters.
It’s interesting how the donor class still doesn’t seem to understand they’re actively harming their own cause. DeSantis’s numbers basically started tanking as soon as it was reported the donor class was supporting him and never recovered. By putting their finger on the scales, they triggered the anti-elite reaction that populism is based on. The effect is unlikely to go away. After Trump, some other opportunistic outsider will show up and the donor class will fight them, triggering the same reaction. What they don’t seem to realize is that the reaction to their influence is far larger and more powerful than their influence at this point.
Has to be frustrating for the donor class. These are people who are used to getting their way and being obeyed by employees and servants, and in this one venue they find themselves completely impotent to just defeat one man. Predictably, they’re reacting like a spoiled child who for once is told ‘no, you can’t have that’ and having tantrums, revealing the sort of people they always were. I will continue to have a laugh at their expense every time they rally around a candidate and watch that person fail to stop Trump or whoever the next vehicle of public outrage is.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I like DeSantis as well but I was always suspicious he wasn’t as much of a populist as he appeared“. In order to be a populist, one really needs some people skills, and DeSantis had none.

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I quite agree with your assessment of the “donor class”. While not a huge Trump fan, I voted for him in 2016 (and 2020), and my elation on election night was less due to his victory than due to the people it was going to royally piss off.

There is a large segment of the American public which cares more about rejecting the ‘elites’ and elite sensibilities than about actual policy issues. I have some sympathy for this.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago

When he launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis looked like a figure who might be able to bring together the different factions of the post-2016 Republican party“.
Then he opened his mouth, and people went off him very quickly.

Will K
Will K
6 months ago

The discontent in the People is now so great, that a big change in Government is essential. Trump is the only candidate offering that.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Will K

Trump is offering a change from “Democracy” to “post-Democracy”.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Whet does this even mean?

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

What is means is that Trump is no friend of democracy, and he would dispense with the fundamental aspects of it were he to perceive it to be in his interests to do so.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Why is that? Because the Democrats say so, even though they donated $10 million to the most extreme MAGA candidates during the Republican primaries. It’s not like the Dems are beacons of democracy. Of course, the Dems have the unflinching loyalty of the institutions to help them execute any subterfuge. Do you think Trump can get 50 former CIA and FBI heads to call the laptop Russian disinformation in the middle of an election campaign? He’s literally on trial right now for overvaluing his property on a loan application – even though he repaid the loan, the bank didn’t complain about it but actively sought his business, and literally everyone does it.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Literally everyone else lies about their assets in loan applications? Really?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Of all the points I made in my comment, that’s the one you chose to challenge? Hmm.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

That is because it looked like a clear admission that Trump lies when it suits him to do so. The rest just looks like conspiracy theorist filler.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Shocking as it must be, people overvalue things all the time. As it turned out, the bank was paid back. With interest. And it’s not like bank was small-time outfit incapable of doing its own due diligence. Trump is being accused of a “crime” for which there is no victim.
Trump is no friend of democracy, and he would dispense with the fundamental aspects of it were he to perceive it to be in his interests to do so.
And you know this how? Because of his first term? Let’s see. No fundamental aspects of democracy were harmed then. Contrast to now and attacks on free speech, religion, attempts to keep people off the ballot, and using federal agencies to target opponents.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Even the student loan debt forgiveness – it’s all unconstitutional.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I don’t know what country you live in, but in the country I live in, making a false statement for personal gain is called “fraud”, and its a crime. “Everybody does it” isn’t a defence.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Excellent point. Remind me, which one of my points is untrue?

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

All that stuff about “Donald is as honest as the day is long, but all the nasty Deep State types are trying to take him down”.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Donald Trump didn’t lie in his financial statements. (They were not loan applications.) He gave valuations of high-end assets worth in the aggregate billions of dollars. Those valuations are subjective and fluid. They are treated more as sales documents than anything else.
Years ago when I was an associate at a big law firm I did grunt work on a lot of deals like that for banks. Donald Trump did nothing worse than other real estate developers do. The deal documents are what is important, and those kind of financial statements are not deal documents.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Well, I am a lawyer in Australia, and that sort of thing is a crime here. I acknowledge that I can’t speak for the US.

miss pink
miss pink
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

You sound like someone who has never had to have a property valuation for a loan application.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The only time the true value of an asset is known is when you have a buyer.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

The hypocrisy of statements like this stuns me. How can anyone who supports the Mueller investigation, the two impeachments, the four criminal indictments, the rape/defamation case, the civil fraud suit, and the ballot disqualification efforts dare to accuse Donald Trump of being the danger to democracy?

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

And the FBI raid on his home. Nothing says “Yes democracy!” quite like an FBI raid on a former and potential future president’s home over some documents.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

I seem to recall that the raid found him to be in possession of some documents that he was not entitled to have.

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

That was the claim that was being discussed with multiple elements within Nat’l security and the Archives.. it was a negotiation that both sides had legal reps involved for months.. the FBI action was absurd in the face of the facts. But dont let that interrupt the narrative..

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Um, because he made up that “stolen election” thing, and sent his goons to trash Congress.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Hopefully he’s a friend of a’ ‘constitutional republic’

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Let me guess, this is the follow up of the ‘Insurrection almost brought the country down’ narrative. So it doesnt matter what he did for 4 years as policy, no we cant discuss the meat on that bone (or lack thereof) like thinking adults participating unironically in representative democracy. We have to live in an absurd and frankly childish narrative that the Republic with Trumps second term is existentially imperiled and that Rachel Maddow and her ilk will be put in a camp on the day Trump is sworn in. Or murdered. She’s claimed both. Yeah, Ive seen this one on MSNBC. Its a bit stale and not playing well with anyone but the DNC 30% hardcore..

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

especially in a Constitutional Republic!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Will K

Including sidestepping the constitution.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Do you have an example of this? Because I can point to a few instances in which the current administration is doing just that.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
6 months ago
Reply to  Will K

Unless Trump is convicted in one of his many trails. The Independents and some Republican won’t like to vote for a convicted man. They will stay at home, if the choice is between Biden and Trump.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
5 months ago

Or vote for Kennedy as a write in (if not on the ballot itself) to flash the middle finger at the “establishment”. Something I would consider.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
6 months ago

I think that a warrior is much more credible when he has suffered wounds in his battles with the enemy.
Trump has the wounds, and DeSantis does not.

Pietro Leva
Pietro Leva
6 months ago

Professor Lind’s analysis is rich, but the dynamics of this race were simpler by far.
DeSantis failed to understand two things.
One, Trump earned the gratitude of his supporters who, given the troubles he continues to suffer for them would not easily be disloyal to him.
And two, it was Trump who made DeSantis governor in 2018. Trump’s supporters believed that DeSantis would align himself to be Trump’s VP, not compete against him, and then have the presidency in 2028.
Trump’s supporters were baffled, literally shaking their heads in disbelief each time DeSantis would attack Trump.
That he did not notice his numbers dropping each and every time he went negative on Trump remains a mystery.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Pietro Leva

DeSantis’ numbers dropped every time he opened his mouth (or, worse still, “smiled”).

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
6 months ago
Reply to  Pietro Leva

Trump did not make DeSantis governor in 2018. That’s insane. You can like Trump and still admit he had a terrible down ballot effect on Republicans that year.
We should care about actual policies and not have undying loyalty to politicians. DeSantis rightly attacked Trump on Covid policy and praised him when he made good conservative choices. How that’s unfair is beyond me. This blind loyalty to celebrity politicians is doing a lot of damage to the country.

T Bone
T Bone
6 months ago

DeSantis is not Trump-Lite.  He’s literally nothing like Trump.  The amount of unsubstantive personal blasts launched at DeSantis tells you nobody wants to debate him on ideas.  The media barrage from the Left to tar his image and get him out of the race was absolutely relentless. It’s clear the Mainstream Press would much prefer Trump (which is hilarious).

No personality? Next to who? He’s just a normal person that doesn’t care for the celebrity aspect of politics. The left throws fits about “lack of civility” and when a guy conducts himself honorably he’s branded as lacking charisma. Whatever. Civility clearly has nothing to do with anything. The Left can never again whine about hating “divisiveness.”

No candidate has ever dealt with this many Fake Narratives. Not even Trump. Once again, there were more dollars spent on Super-Pac attack ads against DeSantis than Trump and Biden combined.  Why are you media types paying so much attention to DeSantis and rooting so hard for him to fail if he’s not a serious candidate? He is not only a serious candidate.  He is the Front Runner for 2028 and every serious person knows it.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

If DeSantis doesn’t care about the “celebrity aspect of politics”, he is probably not going to be President. The fact is that Trump definitely cares about the celebrity aspect of politics, and what is more, is extremely good at it. It can’t be surprising that the Mainstream Press prefers Trump. Trump sells papers, and generates “clicks”. DeSantis is never going to do that in a million years (not in a positive way anyway). If DeSantis is really going to be a “Front Runner for 2028”, he’s better hope he can buy, borrow or steal a personality between now and then, because lord knows he hasn’t got one now. Oh, and he might want to take some lessons on how to smile like a normal human being too.

T Bone
T Bone
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

You’re just repeating a fake narrative about his personality. It’s a completely fake character assassination contrived by the people that repeat the “pudding fingers” line in almost every story. What kind of esteemed journalist stoops so low to run with the pudding fingers thing?

Who is the target audience for that rumor and what’s the journalistic objective? Answer that.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I’m not “repeating a fake narrative”. I’m recounting what I observe every time I observe DeSantis open his mouth. Prior to him announcing his candidacy, I had no firm views on DeSantis. As a result of observing him during his candidacy, I have formed a significant dislike of him (much more of a dislike than I have for Trump, and I am no friend of Trump).

T Bone
T Bone
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Somehow I’m not buying that you formed your own opinion. If you can go out to YouTube and keyword Ron DeSantis, Anderson Cooper from 12 days ago, watch that and still claim he has “no personality” than you’re either a bot or live in an alternate reality. Its a fake narrative.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I regularly watch US cable news channels (CNN, Fox, CNBC etc) on Foxtel (Australian satellite TV, in case you are in a different country to me). I have seen the same DeSantis as Americans see. My impression of him is that he has basically zero people skills. The guy can’t even smile properly.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I like your arguments and agree.. there are some who will not be led to water though, sadly. They must get very thirsty first..

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

{Off topic: I made a lengthy reply to yours on Rosenfield “abortion election” comment board, but it didn’t post for 24-hours. Not that it’s groundbreaking or required reading but I just wanted to mention it–because I put some effort into my reply and made it within an hour or two of your response-post. Even a shorter comment on federal, state, and local power got held back for a day…Did someone flag it?}

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Ron DeSantis did not have to fend off that many fake narratives. People got a pretty good idea of the man and where he stands. He just didn’t catch the wave and Donald Trump did. In four years, he can try again. Nikki Haley, on the other hand, lost her chance this go-round.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

I’m not so sure Haley is out of the running for future campaigns. If Trump is wise, he might even pick her as his Veep nominee. I can’t imagine he will pick DeSantis though.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Donald Trump won’t pick Nikki Haley as his vice president. He’s already said she’s not presidential timber. And he’s right. Like a bird brain she (figuratively) flipped him the bird and unless she wises up, will continue her flipping for five more weeks. It’s not going to end well for her.
Ron DeSantis has his day job to go back to as the governor of the third-largest state for the next three years. What’s Nikki Haley going to do? Once this campaign is over, she will be invisible to the country. Not a good look for 2028.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

What Trump says today and what he says in a year’s time bear no relation. If Trump perceives that picking Haley is in his personal interest, he will do it. “Personal interest” is his one guiding principle.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Martin, there is no foundation for what you are saying about Trump. Nil.
What I find missing about this whole conversation is :
‘Who is the best person to run the country in the direction that the constitutional republic wishes to go’.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Conservative voters have seen the Haley type before. It’s no different in heels than in suits. Whether comparable to d**k Cheney or Hillary Clinton, she’s never going to be the GOP nominee and that’s on her.

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

People call Haley “Bush in heels”. Some (me included) see that as a compliment.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Picture Cheney in heels.. still a pretty picture?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

I don’t see Trump picking a woman for Veep that he called “a birdbrain.”

Martin M
Martin M
6 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

He won’t remember what he called her in a month. He gets her confused with Nancy Pelosi.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

They called him deathantis for two years.

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Finally, a sane take. I really hope you’re right about 2028, conservatism would be in great hands.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

Yeah. What the US really needs right now is a guy with lifts in his boots.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

A bright spot in the news came from Davos of all places. The editor-in-chief of the WSJ, a woman from London, told her audience of arrogant rich people that the legacy media like her newspaper and the NYT are no longer the powerful gatekeepers of the news the people are allowed to read. “We no longer own the facts”, she said. This is how the left’s long march through the media ends.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago

Michael Lind gives us a lot of interesting insights to chew on with this article. But I disagree with his main point that Donald Trump is a national populist. I thinks he’s sui generis, not a type. He’s a negotiator, a pragmatist, not an ideologue. Sure, he wants peace and prosperity, but he focuses on the art of the deal rather than some abstract goals.
Take his famous boast that he would build a wall on the US southern border, one as high as you can see, and that Mexico would pay for it. Did he mean that seriously? No. He didn’t care about a literal wall. What he wanted to do was slow illegal immigration, and until he got into office he he wouldn’t know how best to do that.
Take the war in Ukraine. A CNN reporter asked him if he wanted Ukraine to win its war with Russia. Donald Trump said he doesn’t think in terms of winning and losing, he just wants to stop the dying. He said if he got into office he would talk to Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky and end the war within 24 hours. When pressed as to what his plan was, he said he didn’t have a plan to share. He would have to wait until he was president.
The problem most politicians have is that they make campaign promises and they propose plans. Elizabeth Warren was famous for that. Name an issue, and she would say, “I’ve got a plan for that!” And she did. She was full of abstract, academic plans that had never been tested in the real world. Even so, she was ready to impose her plans from the top down.
Donald Trump is different. He has a bottom-up approach that is the ideal way to approach any complex problem. He sees a problem, and he asks people for their opinions on it. He’s always asking for opinions, and he listens to what people say. Then he tries something to see if it works. What works he moves forward with. What doesn’t he doesn’t. His watchword is always “we’ll see what happens”.
That said, Donald Trump doesn’t let people get in the way of solving a problem. The late Steve Jobs criticized Barack Obama for his ineptness as a negotiator and his lack of experience in doing deals. He also said: “I’m disappointed in Obama, he’s having trouble leading because he’s reluctant to offend people or [tick] them off.” Steve Jobs added: “Yes, that’s not a problem I ever had.” Neither does Donald Trump.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

In other words, he has not got a clue what he is going to do, but he believes that his own God-given talent will allow him to solve any problem. And you believe him. Remarkable.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A president making promises and plans to solve the problems he would face before he gets into office? That would be like an NFL football making promises and plans for the Super Bowl during the off-season. They would be equally meaningless.
Making plans is great, but life is what happens while you are making other plans. Things never go according to plan. Best to avoid making plans for every problem and instead prepare to deal with problems as they arise.

John Croteau
John Croteau
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Battle plans change with the first shot.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Sounds like what the US did in Iraq. And that was sure a success, was it not?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

He does have a four year presidency and some great accomplishments .

John Croteau
John Croteau
6 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Carlos, you nailed it. Spot on depiction of Trump. As bizarre as it sounds, the best move the Dems could have made was to negotiate with Trump after his election in 2016. He would have implemented their (old, sane) policies as much as the old, Country Club Republicans’. That’s why the GOP hates him as much as the DNC. 

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago
Reply to  John Croteau

‘He would have’. That’s the hate! Strange comment!

andy young
andy young
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

This sounds very much like Popper’s recommended approach to complex problems – piecemeal & tentative – & is the way (proper) science operates.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
6 months ago

“Trumpism, at its core, is the American version of the transatlantic phenomenon of national populism.”
This is 180 degrees off. Transatlantic national populism is a reflection of Trumpism – which isn’t really Trumpism but “We’ve had it with Progressive bullsh*t and finally found someone who’ll say so out loudism.”

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
6 months ago

Perhaps the real reason as to why de Santis’ campaign flopped against Trump is that Trump has superstar power. It may not be evident to all that he does, but he does just like Obama had it (as do Mick Jagger and Taylor Swift) while Biden certainly doesn’t, and nor does de Santis or Hailey.

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
6 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Simple idea, but I think you hit the nail on the head. Politicians are now celebrities and people treat them as do-no-wrong saviors (which has worsened with the decline of Christianity in America). I can’t see that boding well for the country.

Marissa M
Marissa M
6 months ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

Christianity hasn’t declined. I wish it would.

They’re in everyone’s business.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

When it comes to “superstar power”, DeSantis is a long way behind the others you mention (and probably a long way behind most people).

stephen archer
stephen archer
6 months ago

In withdrawing his candidacy he used the word suspend. That often implies temporarily. Is he keeping his options open should Trump’s legal and insurgency problems cause a major turn of events?

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
6 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Everyone says this in US politics. Everyone who was running ‘suspends’ the campaign when they bow out. But yes, it does mean if something happens to the front runner they can restart their campaign.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
6 months ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Interesting point. I was also surprised that he didn’t say that he was withdrawing but “suspending” his campaign.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
6 months ago

Trumpism, at its core, is the American version of the transatlantic phenomenon of national populism. 
Maybe. I’d say it’s more a few decades of fatigue with the shenanigans of the uniparty. Repub voters have lost faith in of the people they’ve put in office as it seems once they land in DC, they forgot every word from the campaign trail and become part of the cabal. Aside from guns and abortion, it’s become difficult to separate D from R.
Right-leaning voters have long since understood that govt officials no longer believe they work for us. They see it as the other way around and every move from govt has a FYTW flavor to it. For the uninitiated, that’s a less polite way of saying “we do it because we can; what are you going to do about it?” And the strategy has worked with incumbents being re-elected at a 90%+ rate.
In a well-functioning republic, a Trump candidacy would not even be possible. But we’re not well-functioning. Nothing seems to work. Instead of focusing on basic public services, fedzilla has extended its reach into areas where it has no expertise, such as the climate. What sane person thinks the people who cannot manage a budget are equipped to manage the weather? Only those who are invested in the process.
It’s not like DeSantis was pseudo-anything. He has some Trump-like qualities, such as an intolerance for media mischief. He also has a good record as a chief executive, doing many of the things that conservatives complain their side does not do. However, he lacks that something that all presidential candidates, for better or worse, need to have. Trump connects with regular people, odd as that may seem. DeSantis may develop that quality, but either does not have it yet or hasn’t figured out how to use it.
People not driven by emotion can compare the records of Trump and Biden. Those who pay attention will notice that none of the things we were told Trump would do were actually done, and they’ll notice that Biden has done things like go after free speech, target political enemies with govt agencies, fling open the border, and do virtually nothing that can be seen as pro-America. And the thing is that a Dem might still win. I put nothing past the DC cabal in its efforts to stop Trump. Nothing. Read into that what you will, including that option. Because they’re tried everything else and only succeeded in making him more popular.

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0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Great comment..Trump is a political hydra.. People on the liberal side of this equation just dont understand this is not about Trump the man per se, the mythological is at play in a time of crisis on mostly every front there is.. and the people at the bottom of the food chain feel that before the swathed and coddled can.. The Dems certainly have no Hercules to offer..

Daniel P
Daniel P
6 months ago

Since about 1996, until 2016, US voters could pick between neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy with a side of pro-abortion or they could pick neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy that was anti-abortion.

Bottom line? The democrats stole the wealthy, Wall Street and Silicon Valley from the republicans. They made these constituents their own.

Then, the democrats went from the anti-war party to the party of let’s bomb everyone everywhere and funnel money to the military industrial complex, CIA and NSA.

They took that, mixed it with a bunch of leftish social policies from universities, kept their pro-abortion stance, to keep the young and women onboard, and moved out and abandoned the working class and union types.

The democrats simply became old school Northeast republicans.

The Bush types and the McConnel types have been fighting to get back their old business and war friendly constituency since Obama was elected.

Davos man thought he had won. All the battles could be over social issues which mean little in the way of profit, but no matter what, no matter who won, his economic concerns were protected.Heads they win. Tails everyone else loses.

Thing is, when the democrats under Clinton made their move for Wall Street etc, they left the middle class, the working class and union types hanging, out in the street, with nobody to represent them. Not their economic concerns and not their social views.

Until Trump came along. Trump invited all those working and middle class, blue collar types into the republican party and they came. Now they have made themselves at home and are taking over a little bit at a time. For the McConnel’s and Bush’s this means they are losing not just their hope of recapturing the business elites who pay well and donate big money but they are losing their political home.They have tried fighting back but they are losing. The guests they did not invite are taking over and pushing them out the door. Now, with more working class minorities joining the party, the republicans are being transformed into something new. What that will finally look like is hard to say but two things are sure. First, the party will never ever return to what it was. Just no market for it. Second, the democrats are going to lose any ability to pretend they are the party of the working stiff.

Marissa M
Marissa M
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Yup
The dumbest thing the Dems did was lose the working man’s vote. All those years the working man voted for the Democratic Party…and they turned their back on him and called him Homer Simpson.
It was a vacancy that needed to be filled.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

The Labour Party in Britain did the same thing.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
6 months ago

The prime reason for Trump’s victory was loony policy in the US. The Earth is Flat, Thomas Freidman’s best selling book, tried to kid its readers that if, say, Indian or Chinese leaders talked liberal economics, they had the means to implement it, even if they meant it, which they didn’t. As a result, lots of business people invested in China because labour costs were 60 times lower than US or German wages. The same simplistic paradigm informed our genius Chancellor, Gordon Brown. He held flat earth economics to be true. His people went off to North India and Pakistan recruiting new labour(New Labour), and new votes(because the white working class had voted Thatcher, and therefore had the mark of the devil on them). And his government encouraged UK firms to buzz off to China. I was an insider. I made a documentary, paid for directly by Brown’s people, to help teach business people. Except I was a business school prof and assumed Brown wanted a real world tool. He got it from me, and that tool later became an FT book, China UnCovered. The message was: Beware! You should look not at labour cost differentials, but total estimated costs over a 10-15 year period. These I pointed out with up to 60 companies I interviewed could be steep. What did Brown’s Department of Trade and Industry do with my China Perspectives, They shelved it, and taught Friedman’s BS. Result. Accelerated de-industrialisation, especially in northern England. Brexit vote. Same year as Trump.
Well done, Gordon. Genius.

Doug Bodde
Doug Bodde
6 months ago

What a bunch of rot. DeSantis or any of the other challengers share none of Trump’s moral (yes, I said moral) stink and mental midgetry. Trump is much closer to Biden and the Democrats than people realize. Deficit spending to fund cronies being the first order of business.
DeSantis and Tim Scott made a cowardly endorsement of Trump. Go Nikki Haley!

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
6 months ago

After the 2022 mid-terms DeSantis was riding on a high and polling extremely well. Why? Because the promised ‘red wave’ failed to materialize as Trump backed candidates (often financially back by Democrats or Democrat-supporting groups in their primaries, edging out more competitive Republicans) lost races that should have been won. DeSantis won an enormous majority in Florida, he had previously scraped into the Governor’s mansion, but his re-election campaign saw him win by 19%, with Republicans winning almost everywhere down ballot in the state and the Democrats in disarray. Here was the future of the Republican Party.
This was noticed by a few groups: Trump and his supporters. The Democrats. The big Republican donors. Republican voters in general. The first two groups turned against DeSantis and started maneuvers against him. The donors backed him and so did the voters, he saw a huge boost in support for a run for President. And why not? Trump the man is toxic with the broader electorate and whenever he ran his ‘Stop the Steal’ candidates they lost, but elsewhere Republicans with Trump-y policies (border etc) won.
The turning points in the polls came through three things, the indictments against Trump, DeSantis’s stance on Ukraine, abortion and the six week ban. The most influential of these were the indictments. These are widely seen, by number of Democrats too, as being politically motivated. Trump was turned into a martyr and instantly the polls turned back to Trump. DeSantis did take a less hawkish view of Ukraine than many Bush/Romney style Republicans. Unfortunately for him, the donors class are war hawks and after a brief flirtation with Tim Scott, they settled on Haley. Haley makes perfect sense for the donor class: UN experience, hawkish, and ticks some diversity boxes (female, minority status) which even though they may not be important to those donors themselves, but they recognize that it has value on the campaign trail. Add to that that Haley was less hawkish in the culture wars, and bingo. The donor class had found its candidate of managed decline. Abortion: here the issue was twofold; firstly, a six week abortion ban is only popular with a group of Republicans, even ‘pro-lifers’ found it harsh, secondly, Florida had already passed a 15 week ban, which many people found acceptable, so this was seen as saying one thing and doing another (you can discuss whether that is true or not).
I would also another couple of points. Trump’s banishment from Twitter/X and the launch of Truth Social gave him his own platform (he briefly returned to X once his ban was lifted in order to post his mug shot and highlight his persecution) where he was able to rant away to his heart’s content. As Truth Social isn’t very popular outside very-Trump circles, his worst excesses of insults have been out of sight and out of mind, which is too his advantage. Expect that to change.
Finally, the main argument against Trump from within the Republican Party was the fact he seemed unelectable. As Biden’s term is drawing to a close, this argument no longer holds water. Biden is simply one of the worst presidents in US history, and voters have noticed! Many of those former Trump voters who were looking elsewhere are now ‘anyone but Biden, let’s rally behind a nominee and take him out’ and with the rising poll numbers, that nominee increasingly looked like Trump.

Cal RW
Cal RW
6 months ago

When I read the article, I tried to detach Trump from the concept of Trumpism and found myself more supportive of Trumpism. So I can go in that direction, but sorry, I can’t accept the Donald. As Bill Maher said, if the choice is between Trump and Biden, I don’t care if Biden’s head is floating in a jar of blue water, I am not voting for Trump. Regarding DeSantis, one commentator compared him and his campaign to a top quality dog food, highly recommended by all the experts, having all the right ingredients, but when served to the dog, he just won’t eat it.

Friedrich Tellberg
Friedrich Tellberg
6 months ago

An interesting analysis. Thank you.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
6 months ago

In what way did “the controversial sex education and gender policies ultimately backfire by making him look more-than-a-little-ridiculous for waging a quixotic battle against the House of Mouse”? It was and is overwhelming supported by the people. Are there no editors at UnHerd acquainted with American culture and politics?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

“It was and is overwhelming (sic) supported by the people.”
Sorry Jerry, most people don’t support DeSantis’s hideous policies and his humiliation is a firm rebuttal of those policies.
Or did you miss the fact that he just scurried away with his tail between his legs?

Marissa M
Marissa M
6 months ago

As an American, I find Trump and the Christian Nationalists that follow him terrifying I find their contempt towards education and anything ‘foreign’ a depressing by-product of fear. I am pro-choice, not without limits, but not a complete ban either. I hate that Trump panders to this crowd. But DeSantis is ONE of them.
And as a Californian? We have to stop the unprecedented number of immigrants, especially illegal, that are washing over our border in a great wave. We cannot sustain it. I get “give me your tired, your poor”, but when we are stressing the infrastructure of the citizens of the US…we can’t do it anymore.
I think Trump can probably staunch it. And I think he is, astonishingly enough, more of a moderate than DeSantis…who just lacked the star quality people the world over can appreciate in a leader. Biden is too old, he should have stepped down…
Haley? Bless her heart. I give her two more months, if that.
Ugh. It’s not an easy choice for Independents in the US right now.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Saying Trump is a “moderate” implies he has a coherent political philosophy.

JOHN KANEFSKY
JOHN KANEFSKY
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

He does. “Me”. That’s it.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Well, yes. That is true. I just hadn’t thought of it as a “political philosophy”.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
5 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

What are your thoughts on RFK Jr.? He seems to be finding a niche, especially among younger voters.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

When I think of RFK Jr, the words “crackpot” and “crank” come to mind.

AC Harper
AC Harper
6 months ago

Michael Lind writes about ‘national-populism’ as if it was beyond the pale of acceptable politics… but who would vote for an ‘unpopulist’?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
6 months ago

Never quite know what people think of US State Governers when they are running in Country-wide elections. Possibly not as much as they think of themselves

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

Horrible policies and a repulsive personality are usually a winner in conservative politics so this is surprising.
What’s that? Oh, there’s an even more repulsive moron in the race? Lucky you!

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

Charisma is important though, and DeSantis has zero of it.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
5 months ago

This might be reality in a presidential contest today, but it’s not as relevant in the wider more important struggle against a liberal Left become Maoist in the US.
DS has done more than enough on a state level against educational institutions pushing authoritarian (and frankly perverse) cultural politics then having their Far Left ideology backed up by huge corporations.
DeSantis brought the fight to the him and the future of the GOP will now be split between and Haley.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Maoist? Seriously? Do you think Biden is going to instigate a Great Leap Forward?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

he was the right person at the right time for Florida, but it remains to be seen what will happen in 2028

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

What I want to know is whether he already wore lifts in his boots when running for Governor, or whether it is just a “Running for President” thing.

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
5 months ago

DeSantis was as much campaigning now as for the future, i.e. for the post-Trump voters, because last I checked the Donald is mortal and will someday depart this blighted land.

Martin M
Martin M
5 months ago

Yes, that is true, but I just can’t see DeSantis as “DeFuture”. You need at least some people skills to be President, and he has none.

Steel Swift
Steel Swift
5 months ago

Nobody opts for diet cake when real cake is on the table.

James Kirk
James Kirk
5 months ago

The Biden administration interferes with freedom of speech and natural organic enterprise. The so called ‘People’ delegate difficult things like Defence, Education etc to the government. Traditionally, not to have a government telling them how to think or what to do. VoilĂĄ Trump.