When Ron DeSantis got into a car crash last week, many couldn’t help seeing a morbid irony. The governor’s botched campaign launch set the tone for a spectacular fall from grace. DeSantis was supposed to be the alternative to Trump, the more “electable,” disciplined version who would rescue the country from Joe Biden. DeSantis is now barely scraping by in the double digits and struggling to reassure the wealthy donors who believed he was the key to taking the party back from Trump. On the campaign trail, DeSantis is awkward and unable to connect with voters. The “extremely online” messaging of his operation, a failed effort to replicate the viral energy of Trump’s historic 2016 campaign, is strange and off-putting.
DeSantis is not experiencing the vicissitudes of campaigning. When a candidate has to “reboot” this early, it’s a sign that it’s over. DeSantis, as they say, just doesn’t have it.
To belabor the point further, and pile shame on a man who failed to meet the sky-high expectations set upon him, is hardly necessary. What matters is this: DeSantis’ collapse has eliminated any serious chance that Trump will lose the Republican nomination, or rather, it has shown the whole notion of moving on from Trump to be a premature fantasy of the GOP, which has conspired time and time again to get Trump out of its hair, only to be thwarted by the base.
So deluded are the Never Trumpers that they insist Trump is only winning the primary through the machinations of the Democrats. See, Democrats secretly view Trump as an asset, compared to the formidable DeSantis, who is being denied what is rightfully his by the conniving Deep State and its cynical campaign to make Republican voters feel sorry for Trump, a man who has sacrificed wealth, reputation, and now, possibly his liberty for the sake of putting America first.
In the real world, Trump has already won the “electability” argument. His enemies are making it for him with each sham indictment they bring. Our very system of government is buckling under the pressure of the political persecution Trump is facing, unlike anything in American history. It is obvious who the Democrats fear. They have seen the polls with Trump ahead of Biden. They know that lukewarm candidates like DeSantis and Tim Scott have no chance of winning a national election, let alone solidifying their party’s base. They know that Trump is the only one with the talent, guts, and star power to do it, and the prospect terrifies them, so much that they would sooner push the country into a political breakdown.
Trump is the deep state’s mortal enemy. It is DeSantis who needs the deep state to rescue his floundering campaign by neutralizing Trump, draining his campaign coffers and demoralizing his base. DeSantis has no chance of becoming the nominee otherwise. But this deceiving strategy is bound to fail. The more DeSantis legitimizes the deep state and its crusade against Trump, the more he damages his own credibility with Republicans, who sympathize with Trump and share his feeling of being besieged by a lawless government. What is DeSantis thinking when he attacks Trump (who, unlike DeSantis, is being sustained by donations from the grassroots) for using campaign funds to pay his exorbitant legal fees? For countless Republican voters, Trump’s war with the deep state is the campaign. DeSantis’ loquacious, lawyerly, calculating, abstract response to Jack Smith’s disgraceful January 6th indictment was indistinguishable from the canned response of a milquetoast like Mike Pence, and served to further highlight that DeSantis is not the fighter the base wants.
Democrats know that Trump will be the nominee, even if Republicans haven’t realized it. There will be plenty of pointless drama in the months to come. We will see Chris Christie waddle on stage at some point to call Trump an insurrectionist, and CNN and the Washington Post will say, “is this the end of Trump?” for the millionth time. It will end with the same result, except the party will be divided. Democrats, meanwhile, are preparing for the general election. Democrats have DeSantis to thank for increasing the odds of Biden’s success with an increasingly quixotic campaign.
The media gossip about which candidate won which “debate” might be a good pastime for professional pundits with no skin in the game, but it is an absurd and anachronistic diversion with serious consequences for the country. This is not an era of conventional politics. Democrats are destroying the very foundation of the country, the consent of the governed, with their brazen effort to jail the opposition candidate. The man whom the corrupt establishment hates and fears has been clearly marked. Republicans should recognize the urgency of the moment and unite behind him.