Horowitz: Understanding DeSantis, shocking election results, and the red-state revolution we need

News & Politics

There are three political parties in America: Republicans, Democrats, and Ron DeSantis. Democrats are extremely unpopular but were somehow, nonetheless, able to defeat Republicans (morally, if not tactically), who are essentially a controlled opposition. Democrats won big given the circumstances, but at the same time, Ron DeSantis, who is the most antithetical to what Democrats stand for, won big as well. What gives?

There is no way to sugarcoat the GOP crap show in this election. Republicans began this election season with first and goal at the Democrat end zone, with a 50-50 Senate and 212 seats in the House. Even a traditional modest midterm gain against the incumbent president – even with a good economy – should have been enough to flip both chambers. Add to it the fact that the economy, crime, tyranny, border invasion, and inflation have never been worse, there was so much malaise in America, and all the polls showed the GOP winning on every major issue, and we had the makings of a wave that should have swamped the GOP waves of 2010 and 1994.

Oh, and back then you had Democrat presidents who were charismatic and personally popular, as opposed to the deeply unpopular Joe Biden. Yet Republicans were essentially beaten by Joe Biden and John Fetterman to a draw, even though, thanks to reapportionment, Republicans might narrowly control the House.

When the historic results came pouring in from Florida quicker than any other state, showing a Democrat bloodbath, we all thought it was a harbinger of what was to come for the rest of the night. But that bloodbath never came, and to the extent it did, it was the other way around, when Republicans lost legislative chambers in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Michigan. While the polls undersold the Democrat performance in almost every other state, they also undersold DeSantis’ already dominant position headed into Election Day in Florida. DeSantis successfully made himself almost like a new political party. And indeed, if you follow his views on the issues, there is a greater gulf between him and most prominent Republicans than between Republicans and Democrats.

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Therein lies the problem. While it is puzzling that voters would choose Democrats given the state of the economy and security, let’s face it: Republicans barely disagree with Democrats on the issues. For most Republicans, it’s as if COVID never happened. Aside from a few throwaway lines, most Republicans never ran on the full extent of the problems with biomedical tyranny. Instead, they allowed Democrats to outflank them on “my body, my choice,” which should have been our message for the taking in a post-COVID world.

On Ukraine and foreign policy in general, there is barely any difference between the parties. Even as they ran strong on crime and illegal immigration, for most of recent history Republicans were for “comprehensive immigration reform” and “criminal justice reform,” only opting to superficially take the other side as an easy election talking point. They have no vision, and they stood for nothing. They produced nothing of the quality of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America.

Yes, a few candidates here and there did run on something other than the weak GOP-controlled messaging, but they get swept away in the negative perception voters have of the party. Only DeSantis, with four years of internationally recognized, distinctly effective governance – particularly on the issue of our time – did the voters treat as a stand-alone entity. He was able to win the suburbs and even some urban areas.

In other words, Ron DeSantis is the control group that exposes the GOP as a controlled opposition. He demonstrated – not in Wyoming or Idaho but in a former swing state – that you can win over a supermajority governing coalition with sincere America-first policy that speaks to the people’s concerns and even changes their preexisting views by offering them something different from what the two pathetic parties are offering. This is how Republicans were able to lose the legislature in Michigan for the first time since 1983 but pick up supermajorities in Florida.

The problem with the Republican Party is not Trump per se, although it’s hard to see his mix of style, inconsistent messaging, and weak policies and personnel being the winning formula going forward. The conservative movement has a Republican Party and Fox News problem. Conservatives incur all the liabilities of those institutions without any policy or civilization benefit. How much longer are we going to be conservative souls trapped in the contaminated GOP body, servicing Republicans’ WWE-style fake fights with Democrats as they ensure the latter come out victorious on policy – and now even electorally?

So, the answer is to have DeSantis run for president, right?

While it’s hard to stand opposed to that proposition, and there is certainly nobody else on the horizon who sports this mix of policy benefits and electoral appeal, focusing on the presidential election is the wrong takeaway from DeSantis’ stunning victory. It’s the “Fox News mindset” of soap opera politicking as an end to itself. It’s not even clear that anyone can win with the country so brainwashed and the elections designed for Democrat mail-in shenanigans in all the right states. Moreover, the blue states have become like France, and the federal government is irremediably broken. Is it even worth trying to fix it and trying to govern over people who will never accept us in the long run?

The question everyone should be asking, however, is if half the states are as reliably red as the blue ones are blue, how come we don’t have leaders who govern like DeSantis in every one of those states? What would the country look like if the governors of Oklahoma, North Dakota, Alabama, Wyoming, Arkansas, Missouri, and Idaho governed like DeSantis rather than a bunch of WEF-inspired technocrats? What would happen if every supermajority red-state governor used the machinery of state government to change the economies, culture, legal structure, and policies of the states the way Florida has done? What if every red-county government, school board, and health department reflected the values of the locals rather than the elites, as they currently do in most states aside from Florida?

The bad news is that the electorate is confused, angry, aimless, and divided. But that is also the good news. The same way we will never be able to crack the blue states, Democrats can’t crack the reliably red states. But almost all of them aren’t red in its pure sense, because the Republicans are frauds. So, before we ask how to beat the Democrats’ growing juggernaut in the formerly swing states, why are we not asking why we don’t have a DeSantis in every state with GOP supermajorities in the legislatures?

The answer will bring us back to the same point we’ve refused to confront for too long. The Republican Party, with few exceptions, is a controlled opposition. DeSantis accomplishing what he did in the third largest state with multiple urban centers demonstrates that we are being sold out in the R+20-30 rural states and have been for years. The soul-searching needs to examine more than what is wrong with the Republican Party: that the party itself is wrong.

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