I’ve decided that DeSantis is my guy for 2024, or 2028 at the latest. Which isn’t to say that I’m looking for some big intraparty donnybrook on the Republican side in the 2024 presidential primary season between Desantis and Donald Trump. That could be fratricidal, and at the end of the day the differences between the two are matters of style and, perhaps, competence. For the most part, I’d say the two are a lot alike. And I’m certainly not going to say no to Trump if he ends up running again.
What’s more, if Trump is going to run I don’t think DeSantis will. DeSantis has a re-election campaign to run this year, after all, and that likely gets in the way of putting in place a foundation for a 2024 run that would unseat Trump. That might not be an overwhelming obstacle but at the end of the day, DeSantis would have two years left in his second term as Florida’s governor by inauguration day in January of 2025. You could say running for president would be a free shot for him, but a presidential run which begins right after he wins re-election is a bad look that likely trashes his second term.
If he wins, obviously, it’s worth it. But if he doesn’t, it isn’t. DeSantis then becomes something of a political afterthought and in the process he likely makes an enemy of Trump and therefore isn’t invited to be part of the cabinet.
So what I’m saying is that the ideal would be for Trump to recognize the paramount role he can play as a kingmaker within the GOP – in Texas’ GOP primaries yesterday, for example, all 33 of Trump’s endorsees won – and then get behind DeSantis as the 2024 nominee. In the CPAC straw poll over the weekend Trump had 59 percent of the vote, but DeSantis was next at 28. With Trump not in the race, per the poll’s second question, DeSantis went over 60 percent.
In other words, the GOP would unify behind him exceptionally quickly.
DeSantis is something of a Trump 2.0. He brings the combativeness, and he brings it in spades, but it isn’t angry or mean like it is with Trump all too often. DeSantis is very matter-of-fact about the way he sticks the knife in, and so when he says very controversial things it’s a lot harder to dismiss them as “lies” or “conspiracy theories” the way the Left-legacy media does so often to Trump. DeSantis will throw out something explosive, but then he’ll back it up with a train of facts which prove his case. It’s just a superior bit of messaging. With Trump, he’ll say imprecise things which ultimately do check out when you understand what he’s getting at, but it’s too easy for the media drive-by shooters to namecall him for them.
At the end of the day, we’re revivalists here at The Hayride. That’s similar to Tea Party or MAGA conservatism, but it isn’t tied to Trump (we’re perfectly happy to have Trump leading the movement, but it has to be bigger and last longer than one man’s political career). It’s an entire political style and agenda. And DeSantis is the kind of candidate – Generation X, iconoclastic but not self-congratulatory about it, hard-core traditional but neither stuffy nor out of touch, unapologetic in his principles, and ruthless in the application of political power – who you can build around.
If we have to wait for 2028 to get a President DeSantis we can live with that. But we’ll take him as soon as we can get him. And his speech Friday to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando is a perfect example of why.