Big Tent Ideas

WHITON: The DeSantis Effect Has Been A Boon To Florida. It’s Time To Bring It To All Of America In 2024

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Christian Whiton Christian Whiton was a senior adviser in the Donald Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest.
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Editor’s note: Big Tent Ideas always aims to provide balancing perspectives on the hottest issues of the day. Below is a column arguing that former President Donald Trump is the only person equipped to take on the “deep state,” and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ America First credentials are untested. A counterpoint can be found here, where former Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis argues that the Republican Party shouldn’t move on from Trump. 

To restore America by reversing the Democrats’ historic destruction of our economy, culture, and national security, there should be no doubt: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would be better than former President Donald Trump for president in 2024.

I write this as a fan of Trump, as someone who served on his transition and in his administration, and as someone who cherishes the New Right he has founded — a movement grounded in blue collar populism, not playing by the lefty media’s rules, and a realist foreign policy. (RELATED: LEWIS: Trump Took A Sledgehammer To The Establishment. America Needs Him To Do It Again In 2024)

Back in 2016, Trump was a master showman who could identify issues voters cared about and match them with simple policies. “Build the wall.” “Bring back the jobs.” “Lock her up.” But DeSantis can actually execute the sentiment and policies he conveys.

For example, as president, Trump tried to win over woke corporations like Apple and its progressive CEO, Tim Cook, who like many executives enjoys lecturing Americans about supposed moral lapses but made his business richer by depending on communist China. Trump had nothing to show for his unrequited romance, which included numerous invitations for the high-minded CEO to the White House.

Contrast that with DeSantis this year when Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, allowed himself to be bossed around by a vocal minority of woke employees who didn’t like that the Florida legislature enacted a parents’ rights bill that prevents preaching transgenderism to young students. When Chapek attacked Florida, DeSantis called the legislature to action and within a week Disney’s decades-old special status as its own self-governing municipality was gone.

More recently, DeSantis ordered Florida’s pension fund administrators to invest funds with the singular goal of making money for retirees, not for flavor-of-the-month woke causes under the banner of “socially responsible” investing.

When Trump had enough of FBI Director James Comey pretending that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, he fired that quintessential swamp critter in 2017. But he appointed another swamp critter, Christopher Wray, as his successor. Wray has continued to turn the bureau’s Washington Field Office into a tool of partisan Democrat politics. Both of Trump’s attorneys general, Jeff Sessions and William Barr, were pointless seat fillers.

Contrast that to DeSantis, who recently took decisive action against a George Soros-backed, soft-on-crime prosecutor in Tampa, Andrew Warren, who thought he could ignore laws passed by the state legislature. DeSantis canned the prosecutor and replaced him with one who will enforce the law. Similarly, DeSantis just dispensed with school board members in liberal Broward County who put politics and bureaucrats ahead of school security. Buh-bye.

Conservatives rightly disdain Anthony Fauci, the face of the federal government’s incompetent and ham-fisted effort to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. While Fauci has been in government for decades, he was placed in his position of supreme prominence by Trump. Then, Trump did little to protect the rights of Americans stuck in states that enforced prolonged lockdowns, killing off small businesses and damaging a generation of kids needlessly forced to stay home from school.

Contrast that to DeSantis, who bravely reopened businesses and schools in his state as quickly as possible despite phony claims by public health tyrants that doing so would lead to mass death. He also defended the rights of parents to choose whether or not to give their children vaccines with scant track records and he put an end to pointless and harmful masking of children in school.

The pattern is clear. Trump knows the establishment and corporate media are wrong but seldom musters the policies necessary or, just as important, the people who can get the job done. In fact, the inability of Trump’s personnel operation to hire supporters and keep opponents out of his administration was an eighth wonder of the world.

DeSantis has demonstrated skill at finding the people and policies to beat the Left. The proof is in the overall success of Florida, which continues to attract people and businesses fleeing Democrat-run states and cities.

As with the elections of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Bill Clinton in 1992, it is time for a new generation to take power. Trump would be 78 if elected and could only serve one term. DeSantis would be 46.

As a member of Generation X, he can bring that cohort’s constructive nonchalance to bear in a breaking from the hysterical self-reference and systematic destruction of institutions that progressive Baby Boomers have wrought.

Put simply, America needs a successful president after a string of failures who can provide eight years of consistent restoration and be succeeded by another Republican. Such a revival would enable Americans to put politics back in their place, rather than where they are now — in the middle of everything from what you can say to where you can live and work.

DeSantis can fight like Trump and govern better. The big question is whether he can keep the blue collar voters Trump brought into the Republican coalition, especially in the Midwest and Pennsylvania.

DeSantis could go far in attracting these voters by supporting higher tariffs, especially on China, to foster American manufacturing and by promising to deport the millions of illegal immigrants Joe Biden has allowed into the country.

In effect, DeSantis could out-trump Trump.

Christian Whiton was a senior adviser in the Donald Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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