When you’re playing with sharks, the way to win is to get a shark of your own.
A lot is being said about 2024, most of it speculative. But whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis puts his hat in the ring in the next presidential election or not, his governorship should serve as a model for constitutionalists to follow. His success has been predicated on one important trait:
DeSantis not only understands the Constitution and the mood of the electorate — he understands power.
Generally speaking, one of the biggest failures of the conservative movement and the Republican Party has been a lack of understanding of the nature of political power and an unwillingness to use that power when they hold it.
It has almost become proverbial to say that when Democrats are in power, they do what they want; but when Republicans are in power, they do what Democrats want.
Part of this, of course, is owing to controlled opposition — the establishment, which controls many if not most of the politicians of both parties, has a globalist, big-government agenda, so the Republicans who are owned by the establishment inevitably vote for the left-leaning agenda their paymasters want them to.
But there is also much to be said for the rapid change in attitude that can be observed among many of the rank-and-file politicians — the convictionless ones who go wherever the wind blows — when a decisive leader like DeSantis arrives and is unwilling to bend. Ron DeSantis proves that if you refrain from bending to the crowd, the crowd will bend to you.
This is why every Republican elected official in Florida now races to prove himself to be DeSantis’ biggest ally, the true DeSantis man, the most aligned with DeSantis’ platform. Only a few years ago, these same Republicans were voting for red flag laws, high taxes, and to protect abortion. Now, in order to reframe themselves as DeSantis men in the public eye, they’ve conveniently become Second Amendment, limited-government, anti-abortion stalwarts.
It’s similar to how most Republicans have reacted to President Trump. The majority of those politicians who now wave the Trump banner most brazenly called him “fraud,” “racist,” and a plethora of other insults back when he was still a candidate in 2016.
The difference, however, is that while Trump was an effective rhetorician who successfully used that gift to acquire power, he held himself back from ruthlessly wielding that power when he was in office — a decision that cost him and America greatly.
Trump’s unwillingness to “cross the Rubicon,” so to speak, included his decision to leave the fate of the border wall to Congress and the courts rather than activating the military and treating the migration crisis as the invasion that it is; the decision to not crack down, before the 2020 election, on the various voter-fraud mechanisms many conservatives foresaw would be problematic; and the lack of an Afghanistan withdrawal, allowing Biden to fumble it at the cost of American lives.
In short, while Trump clearly faced unprecedented opposition from all sides while in office, he could have gotten further than he did if he had taken a more aggressive, belligerent approach rather than trying to be friendly with the establishment and stacking his administration with saboteurs.
DeSantis, however, has thus far avoided those trappings. After becoming governor thanks to Trump (DeSantis’ primary opponent in 2018 was the expected favorite, and it was Trump’s endorsement that propelled the then-little-known congressman to stardom), DeSantis got some good hits in with moves to rein in Big Tech, end Common Core, and remove unpopular Democrats like Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and Broward Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes.
He may have been slower to fight for freedom amid the Covid hysteria than conservatives would have liked. At first, he took a politically “safe” approach that allowed businesses and churches to close and kids to get masked up and Floridians to be threatened with losing their jobs if they didn’t get the vaccine.
But eventually, DeSantis found his stride and course-corrected all of that, even going far beyond, taking aim at LGBT propaganda in schools, going after Disney for promoting grooming in Florida, and more.
In a recent example of how DeSantis understands the use of power, he suspended Democratic state attorney Andrew Warren, who said he would not enforce Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban or policy banning transgender sex-change “treatment” for minors.
For much too long, conservatives have been obsessed with pearl-clutching and bow tie-wearing and have avoided hardball.
DeSantis is a new breed of Republican. For the future of not only the party but the country, others would do well to follow his example.