It’s not just Trump Republicans need to dump


When Democrats officially retained control of the US Senate during the 2022 Midterm Elections, the Republican Party was sent into a frenzy, with party leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell blamed for their underperformance, being unable to flip the Senate and take major victories in the House. 

Conservative pundits lambasted the Republican espousal of Trump-backed election deniers, which repelled young and moderate voters, and advocated for the party to distance itself from extremist policies. Amidst this interparty discord, many Republicans championed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as their next presidential candidate, supplanting former President Donald Trump as the face of the party.

With DeSantis winning reelection in Florida by an overwhelming 19.4 percentage points, a state that had previously swung both ways, it seems clear why many Republicans heralded him as their saving grace. DeSantis, a relatively young and popular politician, has been at the forefront of modern conservatism for years. However, it is puzzling for Republicans to denounce far-right extremism and Trump yet exalt someone just as divisive and arguably just as radical. If Republicans truly want to shed off their extremist image, nominating DeSantis for President is not the solution.

After all, as Governor of Florida, DeSantis has used the same far-right rhetoric as Trump in his support for the Stop-WOKE Act and the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. The former, which was blocked by a federal judge for violating freedom of speech, would restrict schools and workplaces from discussing racism and privilege and put an end to critical race theory. The latter prohibits primary school education on sexual orientation and gender identity. DeSantis has condemned LGBTQ+ issues as “woke gender ideology” and has muzzled university professors from discussing systemic inequality. By backing an individual who has so candidly slandered the LGBTQ community and promoted censorship, Republicans are hardly distancing themselves from extremism. 

A headliner of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was vilifying immigrants. In a similar vein, DeSantis has used the immigration issue for political strategy. This is embodied by the infamous Martha’s Vineyard incident in which DeSantis siphoned off Florida state funds to wrangle 48 Venezuelan migrants from Texas and charter them off to Massachusetts. This politicized maneuver was at best a means to dump economic responsibility on the doorstep of Democrats and at worst an effort to “own the libs” by playing with people’s lives. Regardless of anyone’s stance on immigration, DeSantis’s eagerness to ignore ethical boundaries in favor of political power plays is dangerously careless and undesirable in the Oval Office.

Though DeSantis is a popular candidate and could potentially win a presidential election, he is not the right candidate for a party looking to rebrand itself as less radical. If calls for Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged for refusing to overturn election results on January 6 are any indication, the long-term harm of the Republican party embracing far-right, conspiracy theory-adjacent ideology far outweighs the short-term electoral benefits. 

DeSantis may not currently have a fanatical, insurrectionary supporter base, but Trump did not either when he ran in 2016. If placed on the ballot, DeSantis could quickly accrue the same militant followers. By placing a leader with a track record for hateful and drastic policies in DeSantis at the helm, Republicans are ensuring a repeat of the Trump experiment and a recipe for disaster. Facing a difficult decision in 2024, it is imperative that Republicans cease their depraved promotion of radicalism and nominate a candidate willing to uphold the ideals of democracy.