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The End Is Near for Ron DeSantis?

In retaliating petulantly against Disney, Ron DeSantis looks anti-business. And being an anti-business Republican is unacceptable.

Ron DeSantis
Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at a "Unite & Win Rally" at Arizona Financial Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. By Gage Skidmore.

For months, the Florida Governor seemed as though he could do no wrong. Ron DeSantis picked fights and signed legislation and said the things that antagonized the left while endearing him to the right.

The results were measurable. DeSantis won last year’s gubernatorial campaign with a 20-point margin over a guy (Charlie Crist) who had previously served as the Republican governor of Florida.

To put DeSantis’s 20 points in perspective consider that in 2020, Trump (a Florida resident) carried Florida with only a 5-point margin over Biden. Conservatives started talking about Florida as some sort of conservative mecca, crafted through DeSantis’s leadership. Why not expand the values and policies of Florida to the United States at large, conservatives asked. Why not elect Ron DeSantis president?

For months, the polls showed DeSantis, not Trump, as the presidential frontrunner. Actually, for a minute there, it looked like DeSantis was running away with the thing.

But like Icarus, DeSantis flew a little too high, went a little too far; DeSantis went after Disney – and the results have imperiled DeSantis’s 2024 hopes.

DeSantis has a history of high-profile political stunts

DeSantis had a well-crafted formula for garnering national attention and support: he picked fights, which related to policy, but always had culture war flavorings. The bigger the fight the better.

For example, DeSantis pushed back hard against COVID guidelines that had come to be associated with the left. I’m talking about the masks and the social distancing and the vaccines. DeSantis flouted the whole thing, enraging the left and enthralling the right, who felt as if their perspective had been stifled in the pandemic response conversation. DeSantis gave voice to the concerns of those who felt that the ultra-vigilant COVID response was overbearing and had severe corollary consequences that shouldn’t be taken so lightly. It was a win for DeSantis.

Then, in the most stunt-like of all DeSantis’s stunts, he chartered a plane full of migrants…to Martha’s Vineyard. It was rather cruel to use hungry, tired, road-weary migrants as a prop in a political stunt – but it also made a relevant point. Elite Democrats, who advocate for open borders, are not really the ones who deal with the consequences of open borders. Instead, elite Democrats wall themselves off – in places like Martha’s Vineyard where, aside from paying the pool boy and the housecleaner, Democrats don’t have to deal with the migrant issue. DeSantis flipped the script and conservatives ate it up. Another win for DeSantis.

But then DeSantis went too far. He took on Disney. He took on Mickey Mouse. DeSantis has waged war against Disney, for their intrusion in the culture war space (and their criticism of DeSantis’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill). But Disney isn’t a bunch of left-wingers wearing masks outside or sitting in their Vineyard mansion. Disney is “an economic and cultural superpower, among the largest private employers in Florida and a lynchpin in [Florida’s] economic success and global reputation.”

And now, having retaliated petulantly against Disney, DeSantis looks not just spiteful, but also anti-business. And being anti-business in the Republican Party is categorically unacceptable. DeSantis’s opponents have already started hammering him for his assault on Disney. Nikki Haley invited Disney to move to South Carolina, for example, in reference to DeSantis’s assault on Florida’s most important employer.

The results have not been pretty. Ron DeSantis has sunk in the polls, falling well behind Trump, suggesting that DeSantis was Icarus and Disney was the sun.

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.

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