Ron DeSantis’ presidential entry is reminiscent of a Batman movie

Nobody mentioned Donald Trump — apparently a behind-the-scenes deal between Musk and DeSantis.

As the country gears up for next year’s election, you’ll be hearing a lot about DeSantis. In theory, in some respects, if you’re a Republican, he’s a dream ship. DeSantis is a jurist at Harvard Law School and a field veterinarian. He had just been re-elected by a huge margin in the nation’s third-most populous state — a bad night for Republicans across the country on a day Trump lost the election.

Trump's right: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Trump’s right: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.Credit: Associated Press

But really, there’s only one thing you need to know about Ron DeSantis. There are plenty of very wealthy Republicans who want an alternative to Donald Trump. They know that Trump is a proven election loser who will face various criminal charges. They need an alternative, and right now, DeSantis is that.

And yet: Most of the party’s staff resigned over Trump’s nomination. Trump’s dominant base in the party is fanatical and will not tolerate him being challenged. However, everyone can see that external events may intervene – legal or otherwise. If that happens, DeSantis wants to be the man to take center stage.


So right now, DeSantis is pouring all of his energy into being bigger than the next guy. His policies in Florida have been harsh and needlessly cruel to gays, trans people, immigrants and, of course, pregnant women. (He signed a law banning abortion six weeks later.)

This is the ultimate tactical move. He and his team know that if Trump quits, he must accept MAGA’s mantle to be right. This would create obvious and possibly fatal problems in a general election against the Democrats. DeSantis blathers on and on about things that have little resonance for those not steeped in the right-wing media bubble. (I had to check one out myself.) Many voters have made it clear that they are fed up with abortion restrictions. On the defining foreign policy issue of our time, DeSantis dared not stand up to Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

Team DeSantis doesn’t care. They will, if necessary, tackle the middle ground in the general election — and no doubt some may want circumstances to intervene as well, making Biden a more vulnerable candidate, or even taking him out of the race.

You’ll notice that behind Ron DeSantis’ candidacy, beneath the tough talk, political brutality and awkward positioning, are many hopes and dreams. The right says America’s left is a snowflake, but this is a man who will stand against neither Vladimir Putin nor Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign is based almost entirely on desire. It’s not what you’d expect from Ronald Reagan’s once-partisan party, but that’s the state Republicans have been in lately.

Bill Wyman is a former assistant managing editor at NPR in Washington. He teaches at the University of Sydney.

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