Members Only | January 25, 2022 | Reading Time: 5 minutes

DeSantis is Trump’s mini-me

The Republicans wish this cut-rate Don Jr. without giant veneers could be their future, but he's just another wannabe.

DeSantis

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If there were ever a cock astride a weather vane who could point in which direction the GOP base is blowing, it is Donald J. Trump. 

He figured out that Tea Partiers actually cared about Barack Obama’s papers (and skin color), not the deficit. He sensed the party didn’t just want to kick immigrants out. They wanted to build a wall from which they could kick back and fondle their guns, as they enjoyed the mass deportations. Now he’s sensing how the political winds may be blowing his party’s base into the arms of another Mr. White. 

And he’s not just going to let the party he’s dominated for more than a half of decade wander off without a fit.


Tangling with the Trumps tends to end in one of two ways for Republicans: you either submit in abject and never-ending humiliation, like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, or you go to prison, like Michael Cohen. 


“Former President Donald Trump appeared to snap at Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new interview with One America News Network, where he bashed unnamed politicians who won’t say whether they’ve gotten a booster shot,” Politico reported earlier in January.

DeSantis seemingly responded by attacking Trump for something no one had ever accused the ex-president of before – being a Fauci-lover who was far too cautious when it came to fighting covid.

The ex-president has since called his feud with the Florida governor “fake news,” reminding us all he hasn’t written a new joke in five years. 

But all you need to know about how seriously the Trump Klan is taking the DeSantis threat came from Roger Stone. Trump’s oldest and most ratf*cking-est advisor went after DeSantis as a “Yale Harvard fat boy,” implying DeSantis is having an affair, right as his wife was finishing up her chemotherapy for breast cancer.

All of this is gross. A decent person would rather be forced to stare into scabies than think about any of it. 

It’s so gross even Republicans seem nauseated by having to continually get into legal trouble and literal penis-measuring contests with the guy running their party. Tangling with the Trumps tends to end in one of two ways for Republicans: you either submit in abject and never-ending humiliation, like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, or you go to prison, like Michael Cohen. 


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It’s pretty remarkable DeSantis had gone for so long without taking Trump shrapnel as Fox News, the GOP’s big donors and “intellectuals” have rushed to embrace the governor with a glee we haven’t seen since the last time they got the chance to cut their own taxes. 

National Review, which was anti-Trump until Trump “won” in 2016, regularly publishes DeSantis hagiography and demands for apologies on his behalf. It has also taken to smearing one of his likely Democratic opponents for her eagerness in pointing out the governor’s often dictatorial aspirations.

This desperate fanboying makes sense. If you’re searching for an alternative to Trump who could appeal to the MAGA “faction,” which the GOP can’t win without, you need someone who at least matches the ex-president’s callous disregard for life, passion for employing strategic racism, and obsession with punishing the party’s perceived enemies. 

And that’s basically DeSantis in a nutshell, or a stuffed Men’s Wearhouse suit.

Florida saw most deaths from covid overall and per capita in the summer after the vaccines became widely available, causing many to call the “Delta variant” the “DeSantis variant.” 


Despite the hope of fans who’d like to keep the party’s Trumpiness and Trump voters and amputate the actual Trump, DeSantis seems destined to fail.


This needless carnage became inevitable when the governor decided to fight vaccination and masking requirements harder than he ever fought the virus itself. 

Rather than change course as the bodies piled up in mobile morgues, he’s spent much of his time inventing thought crimes to destroy academic freedom and protect white people’ feelings while trying to legalize the murder of protesters

Let’s not forget his most amazing feat – at least to conservatives. 

In 2019, DeSantis showed that his connections to white nationalists were far more than coincidental. He signed a bill that disenfranchised some 300,000 Black voters with what amounts to a poll tax

This is likely the greatest single act of voter suppression since the Voting Rights Act went into law, dwarfing the purge of Florida’s voter rolls that helped George W. Bush swipe the Sunshine State in 2000. 

And like Trump, DeSantis always pairs his political revanchism with the essential mission of the Republican Party. He remains fixated on rewarding his rich donors and their corporations.

What else could the GOP elites want? They certainly can’t be reacting to his charisma or popularity or lack of both. 


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DeSantis was only elected in 2018 less than half a percent, in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1994. His approval rating continues to tank and Stephen Colbert recently gave a new nickname “Covid Dick” that seems likely to stick.

But Republicans have never let a little unpopularity or even the inability to get the most votes stand in the way of taking power. They love DeSantis’ continued defiance in the face of science, scorn and even Trump’s veiled attacks.

He’s like Donald Trump Jr. without the fake tan and the larger and larger veneers. You could call him Donald Trump Jr. Jr. Only unlike the Trumps, he doesn’t wear makeup fit for a corpse.

He seems somewhat normal and fun – at least to the bros at National Review. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to have a craft beer with while spreading covid to numerous retirees while giving the bartender a crumbled N95 mask as a tip. 

Unfortunately, to the DeSantis’ fans who’d like to keep the party’s Trumpiness and Trump voters and amputate the actual Trump, this plan seems destined to fail.

Trump allies in red states across the electoral map are in the process of rigging their electoral system so Trump will carry the Electoral College regardless of how many votes fewer than his opponent he gets. 


He seems somewhat normal and fun – at least to the bros at National Review. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to have a craft beer with while spreading covid to numerous retirees while giving the bartender a crumbled N95 mask as a tip. 


Trump is leading this effort, stressing – like Stalin before him – that the vote counters matter more than votes themselves. He isn’t taking time from his precious golf schedule to do this for DeSantis or any other Republican not named Trump. 

While Trump seems shy about getting into a fight that could put him in bad graces of a guy who may be running a key swing state in 2024, he’ll have no qualms about giving DeSantis the kneecapping he gave Cruz and Rubio should the governor sincerely begin to oppose him.

And while the party’s big cheeses have DeSantis Fever, the governor currently trails Trump by 46 percent in a 2024 primary poll and is even 1 percent behind Mike Pence, who was last seen fleeing ghouls in red hats trying to hang him.

DeSantis is slimy enough to recognize and slip away tail-between-legs before he does permanent damage to his standing with the base. And that’s something else that would make him relatable to the bros at National Review.

It’s Trump’s party or Trumps’ party. And if you don’t decide to be his eager accomplice in his constant grifting and the dismantling of democracy, you’ll soon get pointed out.


Jason Sattler, better known as LOLGOP on Twitter, is writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was a columnist and member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors from 2017-2021.

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