US election campaign: The triple failure of Ron DeSantis

The governor of Florida once wanted to be the “better Trump.” Now he has given up and is supporting the ex-president. Ron DeSantis has presented himself as a man without principles or charisma. That could take revenge if Trump makes it back to the White House.

They were prophetic words that Ron DeSantis chose a week ago. “You can be the most useless Republican in America,” said the Florida governor, “but if you kiss the ring, Trump will say you’re wonderful.” DeSantis would hardly describe himself as the most useless Republican in the United States, but he has now kissed the ring. The hapless presidential candidate has withdrawn his candidacy for the highest office in the state and is now – once again – supporting Donald Trump.

Ron DeSanits’ rise to the national stage began a little over a year ago. In November 2022, he was re-elected as governor of the Sunshine State with almost 60 percent of the vote. Trump was weakening in the polls at the time and seemed like a man from yesterday. DeSantis, in his mid-40s, was seen by some in the party as a promise of the future. A mistake.

The Florida governor hopes that by retiring in 2024, he will give himself a chance to run again in 2028. Whoever sits in the White House – whether Biden or Trump – neither of them is allowed to run again according to the constitution. So what’s left of DeSantis? And what do you need to know about him if he tries again in four years?

First: He is a man without principles. DeSantis has repeatedly accused Trump of making bad decisions or failing to deliver. DeSantis found the ex-president’s pandemic policy, which also included shutdowns, to be completely wrong. The new debt under Trump was excessive. And the ex-president not only had to announce the wall to Mexico, but also have to build it. DeSantis repeatedly accused Trump of all of this during the internal party election campaign. But none of that is stopping him from supporting Trump again. His political convictions, with which he was just traveling around the country, are obviously just accessories. DeSantis hopes that Make America Great Again Republicans will welcome him back, forgive him and possibly support him again in the future.

DeSantis wants to serve Trump, not stop him

Second: He is a man without any charisma. During the campaign, DeSantis had many opportunities to display some form of human emotion, but he didn’t. There was a town hall meeting live on CNN earlier this year in which he was asked about the untimely death of his sister a few years ago. DeSantis spoke about the tragedy in the same monotone voice with which he can speak about pension policy.

Or recently in Ankeny, Iowa: A little boy asked DeSantis what his favorite baseball memory was. Such questions are tailor-made for people-catchers. They then ask back: How old are you? Do you play baseball yourself? What is your favorite memory? DeSantis recounted his own “successes and failures” while playing college baseball. He’s just not a human catcher.

Third: Ron DeSantis is not a defender of democracy. He had believed that the Republican Party had closed the chapter on Donald Trump. In Iowa, Trump won more than 50 percent of the vote. According to polls, he can hope for a similarly strong result in New Hampshire, where the election takes place on Tuesday evening. Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party. The former president has made no secret of how he would use his return to the White House to persecute political opponents and weaken the rule of law to serve his own interests.

DeSantis has never addressed the threat that Donald Trump poses to American democracy – and now he even wants to support Trump’s return to the White House. If the Republicans succeed, there is little hope that DeSantis will be among those defending American democracy against Donald Trump. He has not done so so far and there is no reason to believe that he should do so in the future. For that he would need political convictions. Ron DeSantis has not yet shown this.