2024, at least for the Republicans, promises to be an election in Florida. meme from the 2010s. This is a viral reference to a lot of newspaper headlines about wild Florida males doing crazy things. “A man from Florida threw a live alligator through Wendy's window” is one of them. “A man from Florida trying to travel back in time crashes into a mall,” another.
These stories speak to the condescending attitude of many Americans towards the Sunshine State. Florida residents are believed to be out of their prime, tanned, drugged, and more than a little mentally ill.
“I love Florida,” said the great New York comedian George Carlin. “All in the 80s. Temperature, age and IQ.
In reality, however, this is a joke that is getting old. Florida, America's third most populous state, is becoming increasingly wealthy and dynamic. It's not just a sunny place for retirees: in recent years, hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages have moved to Florida, often to escape high taxes, expensive housing, and stifling out-of-state progressivism.
Americans take their constitutional right to seek “life, liberty, and happiness” seriously—and Florida now has a reputation for being the place to do it.
But Florida, like America, is complex. It has a huge population of Hispanic immigrants – 5.5 million according to the latest census – and a lot of poverty as well as wealth.
Philip Bump, author of Aftermath: The Last Days of the Baby Boom and The Future of Power in America, says that Florida's racial diversity, global warming, and population aging make it “the state most like what we think it is.” expected to be similar to the United States in 2060.”
Florida men: Ron DeSantis (left) and Donald Trump are top Republican candidates in next year's presidential election
Florida is also politically polarized and therefore a key battleground in the country's all-consuming culture wars. And that's why two people from Florida, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, are the favorites to become the Republican Party's nominee in next year's presidential election. As one Republican consultant put it, “Because of the pandemic, 2020 has become a Covid election. 2024, at least on the Republican side, should be an election in Florida.”
Donald Trump is a New Yorker, but his spiritual home is a comedic mansion in Mar-a-Lago on the southern tip of the United States . Solar State. His famous orange face as a 76-year-old also has some Florida features.
Ron DeSantis has been Governor of Florida since 2018.
After months of waiting, DeSantis announced his candidacy along with Elon Musk on Twitter this week, and everything went disastrously wrong as the technology continued to falter. “A man from Florida derailed the presidential campaign with an epic social media flop,” jokes one political insider.
Humor aside, the very fact that DeSantis is now challenging Donald Trump, backed by powerful figures like Rupert Murdoch and Musk, speaks volumes about his role in Florida's transformation. Florida has traditionally been a swing state in US elections.
However, in November, DeSantis won his re-election for governor by a huge 20 percentage point margin. Under DeSantis' leadership and during the Trump era, the GOP began to win in former Democratic Florida strongholds like Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.
“It's a very significant development,” says Roger Stone, famed 'dark arts' Trump's political consultant and confidant. “And it's not just, as they like to say, because of conservative Cuban Latinos. The Republican Party has made significant gains among Hispanics, Puerto Rico, and Venezuelans.”
Who can attribute Florida's shift to the right, Trump or DeSantis? The answer to this question could determine who ends up on the Republican presidential nomination list in 2024.
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DeSantis became governor of Florida largely because of Trump's power. He sought Trump's approval by sucking up to him on Fox News. He even made a campaign ad in which he read Trump's The Art of the Deal to his child (“Then Mr. Trump said, 'You're fired!').
What DeSantis realized was that for Floridans, especially Trump's willingness to uphold the norms set in Washington made him attractive.
As governor, he has made a worldwide name for himself as a right-wing leader who will not back down when it comes to the culture wars. “He's not just talking about Trumpy,” says one Republican strategist. “He walks. At 46, he's also Trump, but you get two terms.”
DeSantis became governor of Florida largely because of Trump's power. Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
DeSantis has excelled most among freedom lovers during the pandemic. He was the state's first and most famous governor to take a stand against scientific orthodoxy on Covid and allow Florida businesses and communities to reopen. This has been a boon to Florida's economy and strengthened its reputation as a state where freedom thrives.
He dared to pick a fight with Disney, a corporate monolith, over the Parental Rights in Education Act, which prohibited Florida high school teachers from discussing their sexuality with students. A number of employees at Disney, which owns a huge and hugely profitable theme park in Florida, were outraged by what has been dubbed the “Don't Say Gay Law”. authority or cancel it in court. In response, DeSantis passed another law closing the “special area” of Disney World. tax status in Florida.
Some right-wing Republicans squealed at the escalation because free-market Republicans shouldn't use government power to intimidate private companies. It's not American. But DeSantis continued to fight Disney through the Florida courts.
DeSantis also challenged Florida's progressive school boards by banning math textbooks that promote critical racial theory, among other things. He signed a law that banned transgender athletes from participating in women's and women's school teams. He signed the abortion ban after six weeks.
These steps cause outrage from the liberal left media, but this only increases his authority among the broad circles of the electorate. “We fought an awakened elite in Florida,” DeSantis writes in his overtly political memoir, The Courage to Be Free. “And we won again and again.” One of his mantras is that Florida is “the place to wake up to die.”
Ron DeSantis: Florida is 'a place where people wake up to die' Credit: AP/John Rau
Roger Stone, a vocal Trump supporter, argues that DeSantis' popularity as a cultural activist is greatly exaggerated. “He was very aggressive on cultural issues and it had a polarizing effect in Florida. In fact, I'd argue that even though people talk about Florida as a Republican red state, it's actually a purple state, meaning it's still in the game.”
Stone says DeSantis supporters have misunderstood “the more populist aspects of Trump's appeal.” He notes that Trump has always mixed his militant culture with economic policies that appeal to working-class voters.
One of the Trump campaign's already established lines of attack is to report that Florida's governor wants to cut Social Security and Medicare, the state welfare policy that benefits America's low-income voters and seniors the most.
“Ron DeSantis loves to stick his fingers where they don't belong,” says one Trump's bizarrely obnoxious video ad, mocking DeSantis for a silly story about him eating chocolate pudding in 2019 on the plane with your hands. his dirty fingers in all senior rights.
According to former Trump adviser Roger Stone, the Republican Party has made significant gains among Hispanics, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis
DeSantis said that, as governor of Florida, “I have more seniors here than anyone” and denies he has any plans to curtail their rights. But his voting results show he has backed welfare reforms, and the line of dirty fingers may remain—not just in Florida, but across America, and especially in the states of Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where early primary elections are held. voting.
The argument in favor of DeSantis is that he could be the Florida version of Ronald Reagan, who went from sunny California governor to one of the most beloved Republican presidents.
The argument against DeSantis is that he will likely become the next Jeb Bush, another successful Florida governor who was backed by major donors to win the 2016 Republican nomination, only to be crushed in the primaries by Donald Trump.
DeSantis, whose mother was a nurse, is a far more stubborn politician than Jeb Bush, whose father was president. He understands that Republican politics is now geared towards the working class.
'Make America Florida' this is not what all Americans want. Photo: Marco Bello/Reuters
But he may have personality issues. He is clumsy in interviews and clumsy in public. A video of him fake laughing in Iowa last week went viral as commentators compared it to a “malfunctioning robot”. He doesn't have the presidential magical touch with people that other governors-turned-presidents like Bill Clinton, Reagan, or even Jimmy Carter have had. Or, as Stone put it, “I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked for Ronald Reagan. Ron DeSantis is not Ronald Reagan.”
DeSantis' ratings in the polls have been declining in recent weeks. It turns out that his widely proclaimed “Florida Plan” – “Make America Florida,” as it's called – is not what all Americans want.
Trump DeSantis Republican National Polls
Perhaps the strongest argument against DeSantis' candidacy is that Polls show that even in his home state he will lose to Trump. “Orange Man from Florida Defeats Florida's Backyard Robot Governor” could be the Republican headline in 2024.