Gov. Ron DeSantis has checked a bunch of boxes already for a presidential run in 2024. They range from disingenuous uses of “freedom,” divisive, insulting “anti-woke” politics and “cancel culture” assaults to increasing time in the Fox News Green Room and having a well-timed book out during a trip to Iowa, the first GOP primary/caucus state. And somehow he’s added drag queens as a partisan-agenda target. Maybe a shout-out to Dilbert is next.
He’s also checked overlapping boxes for authoritarian-in-chief—from demonizing mainstream media to scapegoating ideological adversaries to manipulating the heavy hand of big government—from state universities to local school boards to COVID protocols.
And it hardly helps when a municipal election, such as Tampa’s, has a turnout of 13 percent. That’s just what a wannabe authoritarian wants: a signal that locals don’t care enough or know enough to even vote in their presumptive best interest.
But there are some DeSantis uncertainties besides Donald Trump’s legal scenarios and his Reich-wing constituency’s fealty to their cult leader. First, serious presidential candidates need some foreign policy chops. DeSantis is chopless—as was underscored by his inexplicable reference to the Ukraine war as a “territorial dispute.” At best, that’s incredulously naive. At worst, it’s a form of appeasement: more Neville Chamberlain than Donald Trump.
Another problematic concern is his personality. DeSantis is charisma-challenged, a trait anathema to retail politics. Some things you can’t change—no matter how excessive the ambition.