Since so many of the problems from the 2020 election have not been resolved, and with demographics approaching the point of no return, odds are that any nominee will ultimately lose, further radicalizing the Republican electorate. But for now, having not made a collective decision to boycott elections or to resort to extraordinary measures, it seems we have to pick a horse. …
Neither Trump nor DeSantis is more “conservative” than their predecessors, in the sense of fidelity to “capital gains tax cuts” and “increasing defense spending,” which made up Conservatism, Inc.’s concerns of yesteryear. But both men’s stated views and priorities are closer to those of the voters, and both have remained steadfast in the face of sustained criticism.
The vague, pro-business policies of yesterday’s Republican Party have been replaced by an aggressive, populist energy that is directed towards a multifront war against the administrative state, big corporations, the media, and higher education. Both Trump and DeSantis are harnessing the anger, frustration, and desire for revenge among the aggrieved middle classes and impoverished working class, who do not benefit from the current system, broadly understood. …
DeSantis is, at best, Trump-lite. His chief appeal is that he has Trump-style policies with greater discipline in execution.
He differs in important ways, though. He is more into old school culture wars, such as his war on the au courant transgender ideology or his recent signing of a six-week abortion ban, than he is in fighting for a border wall or tariffs. While he is willing to take on big corporations and other sacred cows, his opposition to corporations like Disney relates more to their embrace of leftist ideologies. He rarely talks about how big businesses have hurt workers and the country by sending so much of our manufacturing capacity to China. In other words, he does not embrace the economic leg of Trump’s nationalist politics. …
What is [DeSantis] going to say when he is asked, “Did Trump lose fair and square in 2020 or was it stolen?” Even with his other merits, it’s hard to see how DeSantis can defeat Trump in a primary without alienating the majority of Republican primary voters who feel, with much justification, that Trump was robbed of a victory in 2020. …
Trump has better retail political skills than DeSantis. This was evident in the recent CNN town hall, for which the CNN leadership is still flagellating itself. Trump was calm, persistent, witty, and he embarrassed the juvenile host by reading verbatim his conciliatory statements from January 6.
This gap in charisma is evident in every possible venue. DeSantis lacks Trump’s humor, agility, TV experience, and easygoing way with ordinary people. Perhaps it’s not fair, but in the age of television, short attention spans, and universal suffrage, these things matter.
DeSantis is often bogged down in minutia, using phrases like DEI and ESG that may circulate around policy wonk circles but are not necessarily known to the working-class voters who make up a good swath of the electorate.
In short, Trump is warm and fun, while DeSantis is nerdy and cold.
Dependence on billionaire donors:
Trump is very rich. He asks for money, but he does not need anyone’s money. This affords him a great deal more independence than DeSantis or really almost any other candidate. Money alone will not win races, of course. Just ask Mike Bloomberg.
But dependence on donors means the donors will ultimately call the shots. If the donors want the war to go on in Ukraine, then war goes on in Ukraine. If donors want a tax cut or a change in regulations to help them make a bundle of money, then that’s what the candidate will do.
This is one reason there is such cynicism about politics and also why so many politicians appear so fake and controlled. Most of them are fake and controlled, consisting of pure ambition, cajoled this way and that by donor money and the prospect of such money being withheld. …
This author prefers Trump:
So I’m still with Trump.
My money is on a resounding Trump victory in the primary, even with whatever deep state tricks are on the horizon, followed by a Biden installation after de minimis campaigning in the general election.
Even with that outcome, Trump will be entertaining, and his nomination functions as a big fat middle finger to this corrupt and hostile system.