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    • Governor DeSantis speaking in Tampa, Florida.

Florida Man Poses Threat to American Democracy

Riley Foushee ’23
After the midterm elections, people across the political spectrum wondered: Is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis the new face of the Republican Party? For the sake of the country, let’s hope not.
DeSantis defied expectations on November 8, a night when many conservative candidates fell short. While his victory was not a surprise, the fact that DeSantis outperformed Donald Trump’s winning margin in Florida by 16.4 percentage points was shocking. DeSantis weathered Trump’s attacks in the day leading up to election, keeping the base in line and flipping the historically blue Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties en route to winning re-election as governor. It was an impressive performance. To some, it was a presidential performance.

The Republican Party is increasingly in disarray right now, with the coalition formed by Trump beginning to crack. Any Republican who dares to run in 2024 has to beat the former president, who already announced his candidacy. To many, DeSantis is the best choice. He has leadership experience in a major state, he’s well-known nationally, and, in the eyes of some, he would be a move back to a more moderate Republican party. The last idea could not be further from the truth. De-Santis is not more moderate than Trump;
in fact, he has the potential to be more dangerous.

The illusion of DeSantis’s moderation comes from his relatively polished demeanor. The core of his message is “fighting wokeness,” and he often appears angry when speaking. But compared to Trump’s erraticism, DeSantis seems levelheaded. In a party with firebrands such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, what once came across as harsh and hostile now seems tame. The Overton window, the range of policies voters find acceptable, has shifted very far to the right and, as a consequence, DeSantis has moved more towards the middle of the American political spectrum without changing his beliefs. As his fellow Republicans tweet antisemitic nonsense and other conspiracies, DeSantis seems much more “normal” than his peers.

A look at DeSantis’s policy completely contradicts any idea that he is a moderate. He is far-right on issues across the board: He coined Florida as the place “where woke goes to die” and has taken on many social issues related to gender, sexuality, and race. The most prominent case of this was the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a law that prevents elementary school teachers from discussing sexuality and gender identity. In 2021, DeSantis proposed a law that would ban critical race theory, a framework for understanding the causes and effects of social conceptions of race and ethnicity, from being taught in public schools. Moreover, after the Parkland shooting, DeSantis argued for armed retired law enforcement officers in schools and disagreed with
moderate gun control legislation banning bump stocks and raising the age limit to buy a gun. Perhaps most damningly, DeSantis used state funds to ship Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in an effort to show perceived Northeast liberals the immigration situation. There is no guiding philosophy to DeSantis’s politics other than scoring political victories over the Democrats.

His popularity notwithstanding, DeSantis is obviously not the only prominent national figure to hold such beliefs. Nevertheless, his emergence is symptomatic of a shift in American conservatism. The Republican party is no longer a party of unfettered free-market capitalism. DeSantis’s push for more regulation of technology companies and attack of Disney’s tax privileges are a drastic change from the laissez-faire policies of Reagan and Bush. Despite this, the Republican Party has shown little interest in helping those in the middle and working classes beyond commiserating about the demise of the Rust Belt. As a member of the House of Representatives, DeSantis voted for Trump’s tax cuts, a bill that exclusively benefited the ultra-rich and corporations. DeSantis can harp against the elites all he wants, but his degrees from Yale and Harvard Law put him in their company. DeSantis illustrates the current hypocrisy of the Republican
party: rhetoric targeting the elites but policy benefiting them.

Of course, Donald Trump was arguably the pioneer of this new form of conservatism, mixing elements of Pat Buchanan and Hollywood celebrity. His highly controversial, oft-problematic presidency and his erratic nature might be enough to undermine his loyal base in 2024. DeSantis has many of the traits that boosted Trump to the presidency: the showiness, the tenacity in attacking the left, and the constant attention of the press. What makes DeSantis dangerous is his competency. Trump went into office with zero political experience and little interest in learning the ways of Washington. DeSantis has served three terms in the House and is on his second term governing the third most populous state. Even his harshest critics would admit that he’s been effective at passing his agenda as a governor. A DeSantis presidency would mean a continuation of Trump-ist policy fortified with effectiveness, and that’s a terrifying prospect for America.
Editor in Chief 
Asher Joseph

Managing Editor 
Margaret Russell

Claire Billings
Jo Reymond
Rose Porosoff
Eric Roberts
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
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