Observations of an expat: De Santis – Trump with Brains

Governor Ron DeSantis is a clever version of Donald Jesus Trump. And because of that, he could be even more dangerous than the most dangerous person to ever occupy the White House.

Trump was fond of boasting that he was “the smartest US president ever.” Well, that was obviously another one of his lies, and there was a reason his academic records were kept under wrap.

DeSantis can legitimately lay claim to a well-stocked cranium. He graduated top of his class at Harvard and near the top at Yale Law School.

Trump spent the Vietnam War years doing his best to not acquire a venereal disease while sleeping with as many women as possible. “My own personal Vietnam,” he said.

DeSantis went almost straight from law school into the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s office where he received a bronze star for his attachment to Navy SEAL teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only blot on an exemplary medal-strewn military career is a claim that he oversaw force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay.

DeSantis went straight from the navy into politics and in 2012 was elected to Congress where he became a founding member of the Freedom Caucus which can be described as the right-wing of the far right wing of the far right of the right wing of the Republican Party.

In 2016 Ron DeSantis was narrowly elected Governor of Florida and started putting his far-right views into practice. The teaching of critical race theory, gender identification and sexual orientation has been banned in state schools. Asylum seekers were flown to Martha’s Vineyard. Transgender girls were banned from competing in school sports. Corporation tax been lowered. Florida was one of the most open states during the pandemic. Abortions after six weeks were banned….

Perhaps his most publicised move involved Florida’s world famous Disney World, a move which now appears to have boomeranged. Under pressure from its workers, the management at the theme park publicly opposed the governor’s “Don’t Say Gay” campaign. DeSantis responded by removing the park’s rights to self-government.

The anti-woke campaigners cheered until they discovered that the jurisdictional change meant that the surrounding counties were forced to pick up $1 billion of Disney debt. Then, on top of that, Disney announced that it was scrapping plans to build a billion dollar office complex and was moving 2,000 Disneyworld jobs to California.

Disneyworld has been described as one Florida congressmen as “the engine of Florida’s economy.” If that is true, then the engine is running out of steam.

DeSantis’s anti-woke campaign has been the hallmark of his governorship. It is also likely to be the overarching theme of his presidential campaign. Anti-wokeism is fertile ground. Many American conservatives are fed-up with political correctness, the cancel culture, and what they seen as the heavy emphasis on LGBTQ and other minority rights at the expense of traditional values.

Does that mean DeSantis will be the Republican nominee for the presidency? At this moment the answer is highly unlikely. Bookies put his chances of beating Trump in the primaries at five to one.

Part of the reason is that while DeSantis has substance he has little style. His charisma is on a par with the proverbial wet noodle. This comparison was painfully apparent in his glitch-riddled Twitter launch. Trump on the other hand has style but no substance. His administration was a shambles. But it was a never a dull moment shambles.

Another reason is that the Trump base is rock sold. All of the polls of registered Republicans show the ex-president with an immovable 55 percent of the party’s vote. The remaining 45 percent is split between six declared candidates. De Santis is in second place but still 30 points behind.

Trump has been legally labelled a sex pest and his slew of trials to come has failed to make a dent among his followers. In 2016 he won the presidency as an anti-establishment figure. In 2024 he is basking in the golden rays of victimhood.

Ironically, most polls show that DeSantis is the Republicans’ best chance for beating Joe Biden in 2024. A Trump-Biden re-run, on the other hand is expected to result in a Democratic victory, making Trump a two-time loser.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopedia of the War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain". He has a weekly podcast, Transatlantic Riff.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Disneyworld has been described as one Florida congressmen as “the engine of Florida’s economy.” If that is true, then the engine is running out of steam.

    But, it isn’t true. Florida congressman, Jared Moskowitz said that “Travel” was a “critical engine of Florida’s economy”. Not at all the same thing. In any case, a claimed 2,000 jobs is of little significance relative to the huge number of jobs created by the many new and relocating businesses that have made Florida their home, attracted by lower taxes and a reduction in authoritarian wokery.

    ‘Why Are So Many Companies Moving to Florida?’ [March 2023]:

    In recent years, Miami and other Florida cities have gained recognition as prime locations for newly formed businesses and for businesses relocating from other states. In fact, according to U.S. Census data, Florida was the top location for newly formed business entities.

    ‘San Francisco residents and tech companies are moving to Florida at an unprecedented rate’ [April 2021]:

    Nearly 1,000 people, including major tech companies from Silicon Valley, are moving to Florida per day

    ‘As Companies Move To Florida In Droves, Top Democrat Bemoans Gov. DeSantis’ “War” On ESG Policies’ [February 2023]:

    Wasserman Schultz, like most liberals, has it backwards: DeSantis’ stance on woke corporatism is not driving companies away from Florida, it’s bringing them in.

  • ‘As Companies Move To Florida In Droves, Top Democrat Bemoans Gov. DeSantis’ “War” On ESG Policies’ [February 2023]:

    Wasserman Schultz, like most liberals, has it backwards: DeSantis’ stance on woke corporatism is not driving companies away from Florida, it’s bringing them in.

  • Richard O'Neill 27th May '23 - 8:25pm

    De Santis is less dangerous of the two. He doesn’t inspire a cult like following threatening American Democracy.

  • Jeff, first of all, let me make it clear that De Santis’s lower corporate taxes have attracted businesses to Florida. That is true. But Disneyworld is directly responsible for 2.5 percent of the GDP of Florida and up to 7 percent indirectly. It is estimated that two percent of the state’s jobs owe their existence to Disneyworld. Also, the $1 billion campus which Disney is now not building was specifically designed to attract the high-tech businesses.

  • Four years of DeSantis has almost destroyed Florida’s middle and working class though Jeff, which the rightwing publication you’ve quoted won’t print… He would supercharge the hate battles currently ranging in parts of the USA…

    ‘What gets less media focus, though, is that while making sure that his home state is “where woke goes to die”, DeSantis has also made Florida a place that, as the journalist and author William Kleinknecht reported, “falls short in almost any measure that matters to the lives of its citizens”.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/25/ron-desantis-florida-record-presidential-campaign

  • Florida is at the bottom of state rankings for healthcare, school funding and long-term elder care; it’s where teachers’ salaries are among the lowest in the nation, as are unemployment benefits, and where efforts to raise the low minimum wage drew the governor’s active opposition.

    Then there’s the state’s regressive tax structure, which makes it clear why the rich are flocking his way. “Florida is the ideal haven for privileged Americans who don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes,” Kleinknecht wrote, with no income tax for individuals and a rock-bottom corporate tax rate.

    With the tax burden in Florida falling disproportionately on the poor and middle class (because the state’s tax revenue comes mostly from sales and excise taxes), the state ranks worse than comparable northern states in diabetes, cancer deaths, teen birth rates and infant mortality.

    What this means is that beneath the flashy distraction of the governor’s endless and often cruel culture wars is an appalling reality of policies that fail to serve the vast majority of Florida’s citizens: the non-rich.

  • Tom Arms 28th May ’23 – 12:42am:
    …the $1 billion campus which Disney is now not building was specifically designed to attract the high-tech businesses.

    Mention of Disney World is tangential; at no time has the Walt Disney Company threatened to close it. At issue is the cancellation of a proposed campus at Lake Nona near Orlando to accommodate 2,000 Disney employees relocated from California – a few days worth of incomers into the state. It’s of little significance as it’s dwarfed by the large number of jobs created by other businesses relocating to Florida. On it’s own, it doesn’t provide evidence that Florida’s “engine is running out of steam”.

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