The secret sauce that makes America glorious is the spirit of the American people. But they need a competent leader and it’s been awhile since they had one.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has filed papers announcing he’s running for president. Barring major shifts from his competitors, including Sen. Tim Scott, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump, he’s the best choice to represent the right post-Trump, because he appears to endorse conservative policies and enjoy leadership capabilities.
DeSantis has a few things going for him. He is a robust conservative, has led Florida toward success, and has the character traits and disposition the GOP needs to establish their image and reputation.
Whereas Donald Trump now has a track record of conspiracy theories and childish outbursts, and Joe Biden has a track record of 30 years of expanding government bureaucracy, DeSantis has whipped Florida into shape.
From signing legislation that signals he values parental rights and protecting kids from harmful gender-related treatment they could regret later, to his ability to handle the media with forthrightness and embrace pro-family values while also on an anti-woke crusade, DeSantis led Florida through true conservatism.
DeSantis’ Florida is ranked first in K-12 education and higher education and residents’ tax burden is low — ranking toward the bottom of the 50 states.
Florida’s governor has a Navy SEAL-like way of confronting problems: Blunt, honest, straightforward. Sure, there are politicians who get on Twitter and rant about leftist ideas or Democrat politicians, but DeSantis just confronts reporters head on. It might be uncomfortable, and at times, he might seem aggressive, but to Americans who feel leftism dominates the media, this seems refreshing.
DeSantis isn’t without flaws, of course — no one is. He’s taken on Disney a bit too hard, using his power to flex on a tax position they’ve had for years. It’s rumored he’s a bit selfish when he’s around other people, communicating only about himself. But so far, these are not glaring and wouldn’t prevent him from leading the GOP.
Reporters should be asking questions, too, about how DeSantis would do things if he were president. Would he go after other “woke” corporations like he has Disney? Would he hold White House briefings, despite how much he can’t stand the media? What’s his take on foreign policy like the war in Ukraine? What’s his plan to tackle inflation and high interest rates? Would he implement more of a personal agenda or something that benefits all Americans, even if they’re not conservatives?
While Florida might be where “woke goes to die,” as he said, it’s not clear if the rest of the country is primed to battle wokeism, or if they even care about it at all. Most Americans care about healthcare, the economy, and national security — in that order according to a recent YouGov poll.
DeSantis’ real problem, of course, is Trump. His presidency came with its high points, including his three originalist Supreme Court justices. But he’s now a shell of himself: Conspiracy theorist, found by a jury liable of sexual assault, unable to move past the results of the 2020 election and yet unwilling to step aside to let someone more competent, successful, and mature, run for president in his stead.
Trump “sucks all the air out of the room.” as Megyn Kelly once observed. His hardcore fan base — many of whom reside in Texas — will be loath to give him up.
DeSantis has also got competition and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Republicans to date around a bit, even if they want to commit to him in the end: Haley stands out as a woman and a minority. She was also governor of South Carolina. Her advantage is that having been ambassador under Trump, she might understand better how to woo his voters. Sen. Tim Scott will get attention as a Black conservative, though he lacks the name recognition of either Haley or DeSantis.
Still, so far, DeSantis seems like a better candidate than any of those to reshape the GOP following the disaster Trump has created. We’ll see if he can chip away at enough MAGA voters to win the nomination.