Trump won the presidency in 2016 by wooing an ornery low education base that wanted a return to the good old days when women were chattel, Blacks knew their place and white guys got special treatment. Republican elites voted for Trump because they want government to leave them alone- stop taxing them and regulating them so they can accumulate more wealth in peace. Both types of Republican proved to be willing to abandon democracy if that got them an authoritarian “strongman” leader who would let them do as they please. Even as Trump became more and more outrageous leading up to January 6th, Republicans generally remained supportive, allowing Trump to do what he wanted to do without push back.

DeSantis needs these same voters to choose him instead of Trump. To accomplish this, DeSantis figured he needed to be an even bigger bully, meaner and nastier and more unwoke than the Donald if he hoped to gain the MAGA vote in the primary. But for the general election he needs to sharply pivot away from extremism if he hopes to appeal to more moderate Independent voters. The thinking seems to be that general election voters might go for DeSantis thinking that a man with his pedigree (Harvard and Yale) would be the saner alternative to Trump. Less drama. Less crazy. Appealing to both extreme and moderate voters calls for political jiu jitsu. It might be impossible for anyone to pull off, but DeSantis may have ruined his chances already.

DeSantis has tilted far far to the extreme right to makeover Florida to be the blueprint state for authoritarianism. He has showcased mistreatment of immigrants (busing Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard), forcing women to give birth against their will (6 week abortion ban before most women even know they are pregnant), allowing the state to kidnap young people who are undergoing sex change hormone therapy (taking kids undergoing therapy away from their parents), hounding LGBTQ folks, stirring the culture war pot, allowing absolutely everyone to buy and carry guns in public, and attacking and bullying Mickey Mouse and the New School in Sarasota.

On Monday, May 15, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that defunds any state college or university with a diversity, equity, and inclusion program and that bans courses that “distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics,” a reference to courses that acknowledge racism or sexism. (Heather Cox Richardson)

So, how’s all that anti-wokeness and bullying going for DeSantis?

State of play: DeSantis has been campaigning for months, visiting foreign leaders, appearing in Iowa and New Hampshire — and touting new Florida laws that reflect the GOP backlash to the wave of diversity and equity initiatives that began during Trump’s presidency.

  • “We have battled the woke elites in Florida, and we have won, time and time again,” DeSantis wrote in his book, “The Courage to Be Free,” out Feb. 28.

DeSantis signed 80 new laws in Florida this spring, several of which have gotten national attention.


So far DeSantis is not doing well. He has slipped further down in the polls even as Trump faces more prosecutorial headwinds.

Trump gets criminally indicted by the New York District Attorney, found liable for sexual assault in the E. Jean Carroll case and faces likely criminal indictments out of Georgia and the DOJ, and he just seems to grow stronger and more desirable in the minds of his angry, aggrieved base that loves him just the way he is.

Former President Trump, who’s running to return to the White House in 2024, now leads Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a possible contender who hasn’t yet declared a 2024 bid, by 36 points in a new poll of Republican primary voters. (The Hill)

DeSantis got a whole lotta splainin to do to his potential donors about how unpopular he is.  And one of the things he is going to have to explain is how it is smart politics to piss off one of the most beloved corporations in America by getting into a petty culture war with the company.


As part of DeSantis’ authoritarian playbook to prove he is more extreme than Trump, DeSantis went to war with Disney World in Orlando after the company pushed back against his “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida. Disney became one of DeSantis’ targets to prove his culture war bona fides.  From the beginning DeSantis ran into trouble with this poorly conceived retaliatory strategy.

DeSantis enacted a new law that would eventually eliminate the (Reedy Creek) special taxing district. But it was also clear that the law wasn’t a tenable long-term outcome. It was possibly illegal, unless the state wanted to pay off the district’s outstanding debt, estimated at $1 billion. Meanwhile, bond rating agencies were threatening a downgrade, and nearby local governments expressed little interest in taking on the maintenance and services for the district’s 25,000 sprawling acres around Disney’s Orlando-area theme parks.

Ron DeSantis used his power as governor to replace the Disney board with his own yes men, thinking that he could take away Disney’s right of self-governance in the Reedy Creek area of Florida that Disney had controlled and managed well for decades. DeSantis thought this would punish the company, allow him to control Disney, and make him look like a hero to the Christian right. He even promised he would control the Disney characters and limit how woke he would permit their behavior to be. Ron was in for a surprise. When Ron’s new handpicked board of toadies took over, they quickly learned that Mickey Mouse had hired a crackerjack team of lawyers to stick it to DeSantis instead.

The Reedy Creek board quietly and legally voted to rob the new board of control over the Reedy Creek improvement district before the new board took over.  The new board essentially took charge of nothing in Reedy Creek except road repair. Disney maintained its control through a legal maneuver that included the use of language that allows Disney continued ownership probably for another 100 years.

The agreement includes a royal clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain and would extend its term limit for decades.

This “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said. This kind of clause is most often used in the U.K., typically when it comes to trusts, and provides a buffer against perpetuities.

“So, as long as one of those grandchildren makes it 80, this clause would be there for 100 years,” (NBC)

In addition…

Disney sued in federal court, claiming “a targeted campaign of government retaliation.” (NYT) 

Now Disney has gone even further.

Disney dealt DeSantis a significant defeat yesterday, scrapping plans to build a $1 billion office complex in Orlando that was expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs with an average salary of $120,000. Florida officials had repeatedly cited the development as a promising economic opportunity for Orlando, with hotel chains and retailers arriving in anticipation of the project. (NYT DealBook- Andrew Ross Sorkin)

What did DeSantis expect? Of course Disney would respond to protect itself. Did DeSantis think Mickey Mouse would take this assault on its power like a mouse not a corporate giant?

Instead of looking smart, DeSantis looks like a loser. What DeSantis has done singlehandedly is damage Florida’s economic future. His goal was to advance his own prospects for the presidency. But he damaged his prospects for the presidency because his childish war on Mickey Mouse is so petty.

Disney in Orlando employs 75,000 Floridians. It is the second biggest employer in the state after Publix grocery stores. Those 75,000 employees also live and shop in Florida creating a 75.2 billion dollar impact for Florida. Disney pays and collects over 1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue which is a huge benefit to Florida. (CNBC News)

Floridians will pay dearly for De Santis’ bad judgement with lost jobs and squandered economic growth prospects. In addition, DeSantis is turning the state into a backwater where books are banned and women are forced to give birth to unwanted children. Many young women of childbearing age are not going to want to apply to a Florida college or university. Many people will choose not to live and work in Florida given the extreme, intolerant policies being imposed on Floridians.

You have to wonder what kind of person makes a mess out of Florida governance after looking so heroic in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian?

Someone who lacks judgement, that’s who.

DeSantis is proving that he has terrible judgement. He is showing Americans he is a bad choice for president. Even though DeSantis has told his donors that only he can win against Biden, not Trump, the truth is not that predictable.

Why would a Trump supporter vote for DeSantis when they can get the real thing? Trump himself! The showman! The legend! The biggest, most powerful bully out there!

Trump is also an entertainer. His crowds love his mean jokes and attacks on the libs. Why would a Trump supporter want to vote for De Santis instead? a man who is so socially awkward and weird he has been compared to the bug alien in Men in Black who took over the farmer’s body after crash landing on Earth? Remember that guy?


Yeah. This guy.

DeSantis has no one but himself to blame for trying to be a meaner, more aggressive dictator wannabee than Trump. He failed to realize that his vicious, petty games are making him unelectable and the laughing stock of Twitter.  By being too extreme, he has repulsed those reasonable, moderate suburban Americans he needs to be elected president.