It turns out that Trumpism is contagious.
Trumpism is a disease that takes its name from former President Donald Trump. The symptoms of the disease are that victims suffer from the delusion that the unwritten rules governing American politics do not apply to them, that they can somehow win elections without ever persuading anyone to not fully agree with them.
The latest to suffer from the disease is one of Trump’s rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Not too long ago, DeSantis seemed like one of the hottest political properties around.
He was touted as the almost inevitable successor as Republican leader to Trump, the Republican who had the best chance of beating President Joe Biden in a presidential election. His poll numbers looked solid: In some head-to-head tests with Trump, DeSantis came close to the former president. Big donors who wanted the benefits a Republican president could offer (lower taxes on unearned wealth and earnings and more deregulation) but had grown tired of Trump’s dysfunctional, daily-crisis style of government flocked to to the Governor of Florida.
That was then.
This is now.
Now, DeSantis trails Trump by at least 30 points in most polls. Rather than break away from the pack and turn the primary into a head-to-head contest with the former president, DeSantis has settled in with the pack. He has even begun to feel that other Republican contenders, for example, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, are hot on his heels in certain key early-primary states.
Worse yet, DeSantis has spent much of his war chest and found new donors hard to come by. People who can write big checks and host lavish fundraisers like to back the favorites, not the competitors who stumble out the door.
What brought DeSantis down?
Well, he succumbed to the same fever that has plagued Trump and his rabid but dwindling group of supporters.
Politics, the adage goes, is a matter of addition, not subtraction. Successful politicians find areas of common ground and common interest, then use them to forge alliances and expand the support needed to win elections and get things done in an autonomous society.
This means that points of disagreement are often downplayed or set aside for later days, once wish-list items that political allies have in common have been secured.
But that has never been Trump’s way.
Because he sees the world exclusively in binary terms—you’re either with him all the way or against him, with no middle ground—the former president spends an inordinate amount of time convincing those who would otherwise work with him on some issues that they don’t. take place in your camp.
His record proves it.
In 2016, the only race he won, Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Two years later, in the midterm elections, when he turned the parliamentary races into a positive or negative referendum on his chaotic presidency, he increased that deficit to 10 million votes. In the 2020 presidential election, he fell short 7 million in the popular vote count.
Worse, there were signs that he had managed to alienate suburban voters, once a strong source of support for the Republican Party, for years to come. Every Trump-endorsed candidate in a battleground state was defeated.
Trump achieved these dubious achievements by focusing all his attention on satisfying his base and ignoring or insulting anyone who was not willing to shout “amen” at every one of his pronouncements, even if that person voted with him more than 90% of the time. .
DeSantis should have taken steps to avoid infection with Trumpism.
Instead, he embraced the virus.
Ignoring the reality that much of his financial support came from big business, DeSantis chose and escalated a stupid fight with Disney. Disregarding that nearly every business owner in America is in a desperate search for skilled labor, he released an anti-gay campaign ad telling all non-white, straight, evangelical workers not to they belonged to a group led by DeSantis. society.
That is what Trumpism does.
It tricks the victim into thinking that subtraction is addition, that one can win an election by telling a large number of people to vote for someone else.
The sad thing about all of this is that Trumpism seems to have no known vaccine or cure.
Once politicians get sick, they stay sick.
Just ask Rudy Giuliani.