It’s been a pet theory of mine for some time now that former president Donald Trump’s main motivation in the twilight of his life is to protect his legacy and preserve his family brand, and
to that end, he will do virtually anything to “go out” as a winner. All of this explains why a man who’s literally done it all sometimes stoops to levels much below his personal and professional dignity to assure himself of victories.
I’ve also argued a lot lately that I don’t believe that Trump personally dislikes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and much of the older man’s apparent political angst towards his home state’s chief executive is manufactured campaign-speak to try and dent DeSantis’s blemish-less reputation with the heart of the conservative base. Whether or not conservatives look upon the Florida-born man as a legitimate presidential contender, they still likely regard him as a champion of limited government and willing warrior in the battle against “woke”.
For many of us, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” for the future moment where DeSantis will unite the entirety of the Republican party behind him, simply because he’s not afraid to fight the fight, and most of the time he comes out on top.
In this sense, the term “Republican Party” incorporates Trump supporters, though the two groups are somewhat mutually exclusive.
Much of the consternation in the hearts of conservatives today is a perceived either/or choice between Trump and DeSantis. Most of the folks I’ve talked to still like Trump and give him credit for everything he’s accomplished in his relatively brief time in American politics. They also have reservations about his age, which is only a few years younger than current old goat president senile Joe Biden, as well as mull over the legal questions swirling around the 45th president.
Anyone who’s paid attention, and didn’t already hate Trump, concedes that the establishment media’s furor over the January 6, 2021 “tourism riot” was vastly overblown, and right-thinking people don’t buy that Trump had a personal role in either ordering his supporters to besiege the capital – or even to perpetuate the melee once it got started. They also see the evidence, and the question of the deep state’s undeniable role in the matter is scandalous and troubling.
But (here’s the big “but”, right?) conservatives are also anxious about winning the 2024 election. For better or worse, the “electability” issues associated with Donald Trump will likely never fade. Too many people in this country have already made up their minds that they’d never vote for Donald Trump in a million lifetimes – and thus far, we’re only on number one.
Perhaps the “only Trump” voters should open themselves to a combination that would give them what they demand – another Trump presidency – but also satiate enough DeSantis backers to make them unbeatable. All it requires is a little conciliation between the two sides.
In a piece titled “Trump-DeSantis is a winning ticket, big time”, the perpetually on-point Paul Bedard reported at the Washington Examiner this week:
“A Trump-DeSantis GOP presidential ticket would crush President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, bringing in independents who are stubbornly sitting on the political fence.
“According to a Rasmussen Reports survey, a unity ticket of former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) would beat Biden-Harris by 51%-43%. That margin is the biggest yet for any potential GOP ticket and follows a McLaughlin & Associates survey [last week] that said Trump has maintained a 47%-43% edge over Biden.
“There have been rumblings in GOP circles about a Trump-DeSantis ticket, but both clearly want to test the waters on their own. In most surveys, Trump is pulling away from DeSantis, who has been portrayed as Trump 2.0 and the potential face of the future Republican Party.”
Yes, it’s true. Gov. DeSantis has been depicted in the establishment media as Trump 2.0, probably because of the Floridian’s take-no-prisoners approach to public relations and willingness to step on the heads of the DC establishment to fulfill his campaign platform. Otherwise, there are few similarities between the two men.
Trump is an image-driven political force who seemingly rides a wave of populism whereas DeSantis is a life-long committed conservative who values the concept of limited government and personal liberties as originally committed to paper by the Founding Fathers. It’s not that Trump isn’t a true believer himself, it’s just that the native New Yorker’s views have evolved so much over the years that it’s hard to pin down exactly what he’s willing to go to the mat to win.
If there’s such a thing as a proverbial “Hill to die on”, I don’t think we’ve quite discovered where Trump’s might be. Or, as suggested above, Trump’s “hill” is his historical legacy and family name. There’s no way Trump wants to go down in history as having lost a presidential election twice (again, not talking about circumstances and chicanery here). Trump wants to be remembered as a man who wouldn’t compromise on Making America Great Again. He doesn’t believe anyone else can get it done like he can. This explains a lot.
DeSantis, assuming he will run for the GOP nomination, is in a much different position than Trump. Difficult as it is to believe now, five years ago hardly anyone had heard of Ron DeSantis. Before he ran for and won (with a Trump endorsement) his current office in Florida, DeSantis was a congressman recognized among those-in-the-know of the conservative movement, but not really regarded as “the one” to lead us to the promised land.
Yes, Ron DeSantis was there the day that leftist wacko James Hodgkinson shot up the Republican baseball team in 2017, but other than a random headline here and there, he blended in with the other Freedom Caucus members who were battling the party establishment for the hearts and minds of the majority of Republicans at the time – mainly in an effort to help Trump’s presidency.
Flatly stated, DeSantis didn’t go out of his way to attract controversy the way Trump did – and is still doing. Gov. Ron would seemingly get everything done and leave the credit to other people if he could get away with it. Trump, on the other hand, constantly seeks affirmation and approval for the political victories he’s won. It doesn’t make him a bad person or a weak leader, it just lends the impression that Trump is only in this for himself.
I don’t believe that, nor does most of the politically astute folks I’ve talked to. This “explanation” is way too simple to describe a man as complex as Donald Trump. Trump clearly wants to Make America Great Again, though he wouldn’t mind being remembered by posterity as the one who did it. I can’t speak for him, but here’s thinking Trump wants the biggest, boldest, gold-est, shiniest, largest and most visited presidential library of all time. And you can bet the food served in the facility’s cafeteria will be the best anywhere, too.
The trick now would be convincing Trump that the ultimate way for him to get all those things is picking a vice president who will fill in many of the gaps in his campaign resume. What are conservatives and Republicans and independents concerned about?
First and foremost, Trump’s lack of “presidential” demeanor. Acting like a president in itself won’t accomplish anything, but actively repelling a lot of the people who would normally help the MAGA efforts isn’t helping solicit donations, drive up poll numbers (Trump’s favorable/unfavorable ratings haven’t changed in forever long) or put together a coalition of voters who will assure victory in this time of incredibly divided partisan leanings.
DeSantis could offer that bridge, just as Mike Pence did in 2016. Though with DeSantis, voters get an up-and-comer second-in-line who is ideologically grounded and ready to step in, which addresses the second worry:
Two, Trump’s age. As has been pointed out ad nauseum, Trump will be 82 when he’d leave office in his second term, the same figure senile Joe Biden will be at the end of his first term. Trump is energetic, cognitively sharp as a tack and eager to prove he’s up to the job, but still… Voters would prefer a younger version of Trump, but it ain’t happening. DeSantis could serve as an insurance policy that the MAGA mission will go on should something unexpected happen to Trump.
Three, provide the “electability” that conservatives are looking for. Many remain convinced, for whatever reason, that a Trump 2.0 candidacy couldn’t possibly succeed because, for a lack of a better way to phrase it, too many people hate him, and his caustic personality means his electoral “tent” won’t expand. Having DeSantis along won’t completely dispel the fear among the vast majority of these doubters, though if a Don and Ron combo convinces a reasonable percentage, that’s all that’s needed.
Finally, Mike Pence was thought to have handled much of the policy strategy burden behind the scenes, mainly, providing the intellectual foundation for much of the MAGA agenda. Trump handled the advocacy side, Pence played a role in formulating the x’s and o’s of the so-called MAGA “offense”. Brainy Ron DeSantis could do the same thing for Trump while the president sells the ideas to the American public.
No one is suggesting that the 2024 GOP primary competition is over, though the notion of a Trump/DeSantis ticket grows more attractive as the days and weeks go by. Neither man will get everything he wants without the other’s help, and if winning the presidential election is truly each candidate’s goal, they should seriously ponder working together to guarantee it.
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