Reviews | Ron DeSantis has a secret Trump theory
Rather than questioning the former president’s actions on Covid, DeSantis lashes out at Anthony Fauci, “one of the most destructive bureaucrats in American history,” a public servant whose “intellectual bankruptcy and brazen partisanship” have turned America’s major cities into hollowed-out “Faucivilles.” Fauci is the supervillain of DeSantis’ book, the destroyer of jobs and freedoms, the architect of a “Faucian dystopia”. Trump, it seems, was not in charge during the early months of Covid, but Fauci wielded unstoppable and irresponsible power – until one brave governor finally had enough. “As the Iron Curtain of Faucism descended on our continent,” writes DeSantis, “the State of Florida stood resolutely opposed.”
In “The Courage to Be Free,” DeSantis only shows enough courage to berate Trump by proxy.
In fact, DeSantis’ broadest attack on Trump is also his most oblique. In the governor’s various references to Trump, the former president comes across less as a political force in his own right than as a symptom of pre-existing tendencies that Trump was lucky enough to exploit. Trump’s 2016 nomination stemmed primarily from the failure of Republican elites to “effectively represent the values” of Republican voters, the governor writes. DeSantis even takes some credit for Trump’s rise: The House Freedom Caucus, of which DeSantis was a member, “identified the shortcomings of the modern Republican establishment in a way that paved the way for a foreign candidate to the presidency that threatened the survival of the former DC”. Republican Party orthodoxy.
Trump argued, not without reason, that he allowed DeSantis to be elected governor with his endorsement in late 2017 — and now DeSantis is suggesting he helped pave the way for Trumpism. The governor even notes the “star power” Trump has brought to American politics, the kind of things critics used to say when they dismissed Barack Obama as a celebrity candidate.
If Trump’s success was not unique to him, but stemmed from broader cultural or economic forces that made him viable, someone else could presumably channel those same forces, perhaps more effectively, if only Republican voters had the courage to break free from Trump. And who could this alternative be?
DeSantis presents himself as not just a culture warrior, but a competent culture warrior. The culture warrior who stood up for parents and stood up against Disney (yes, the Magic Kingdom ranks its own chapter here). The culture warrior with the true vibe from the heart (the DeSantis family roots in Ohio and Pennsylvania come up often). The culture warrior who “fears God, works hard and loves America” in the face of oppressive, unbelieving and unpatriotic enemies. The culture warrior who takes “bold stands”, shows “courage under fire”, is willing to “lead with conviction”, “speak the truth” and “stand up for what is right”.