DeSantis is the GOP’s last best hope for survival

Adam Wildsmith

April 27, 2023

The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” This was exemplified by U.S. Senator Tim Scott (Republican-South Carolina) last week, as he signalled his intention to run for president in 2024.

Scott is a widely-respected legislator, who was raised from poverty by a single mother to become the first African American senator to represent a Southern state since the end of Reconstruction. With a strong conservative record and a reputation for getting the job done, he’d probably make a good president.

Though it’s often folly to predict something as capricious as an American presidential primary, it’s unlikely Tim Scott, an exemplar of common sense and affability, could win in the Republican field right now. This primary is, and has been for some time, a two-horse race between Ron DeSantis – the brash talking Florida governor – and the man who is credited with his rise to stardom, Donald Trump. In Republican politics today there is a correlation between immodesty and viability.  

The latest Morning Consult 2024 election tracker shows over half of likely Republican primary voters backing the former President for the nomination. While DeSantis comes in second, securing just under a quarter of likely GOP voters. No other candidate reaches double figures.

Make no mistake about it, I yearn for a time when the Republican Party returns to the politics of principle, patriotism, decency, and fairness; a time when it once again embraces economic prudency, high standards in public life, and not just a respect, but an understanding as to the importance of democracy and the rule of law. Tim Scott would be my ideal candidate, but recent history tells us he cannot win, and so our attention must be diverted to preventing Donald Trump from ever again wielding the levers of power in America.

A wide field is beginning to assemble; a field that will likely include Former Vice President Mike Pence and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Just as in 2016, a splintered opposition is likely to hand Trump the nomination.

In the GOP primary seven years ago, Republicans began attacking Donald Trump when it was too late. They declared him unfit for office after he’d secured an insurmountable delegate lead. In that race, anti-Trump candidates failed to take ‘the Donald’ seriously. When it was clear Trump was going to win, the best the other candidates could hope for was a contested convention by persuading voters to back the strongest candidate in the states left to vote. This was too little, too late: Trump won the nomination comfortably despite securing only 44.9 per cent of the vote.

Republicans should learn from recent history: if they want to stop a second disastrous Donald Trump term, the smaller the field of candidates, the better. More candidates would simply split the anti-Trump vote and hand him the nomination. It’s clear that the only candidate with a path to defeating Donald Trump is Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis is made in Trump’s image. He’s ostentatious, divisive, polarising, and until recently was one of the former President’s greatest champions. But it’s also true to say he’s different from Donald Trump, with a proven ability to govern.

Last year Florida’s GDP reached $1 trillion, higher than the US national average and the seventh highest out of all 50 states. The economy has experienced strong growth over DeSantis’ period in office, while unemployment stands at 2.8per cent and the employment rate is the third highest in the nation.

Perhaps this is why DeSantis went from barely scraping victory in his 2018 race for the Governorship, to securing one of the largest landslides in Florida history in his re-election last year.

DeSantis is by no manner of speaking the best candidate the Republicans could nominate, but he is I believe the only candidate with a path to defeating Donald Trump and securing victory for the Republicans in 2024. Donald Trump is a proven loser: he lost the presidency in 2020; is widely credited with loss of both Senate seats in the Georgia special elections just weeks later; and dampened Republican hopes of a red wave in last year’s midterm elections. If he’s nominated again, he’ll almost certainly lose again, and hurt Republican candidates right down the ticket.

A Ron DeSantis/Nikki Haley administration would be like Lincoln reincarnate compared with the torment that would be a Donald Trump/Kari Lake administration.

If Trump’s rivals are serious about departing from the dark years of the former president, they will withdraw from this race and back the only candidate with any conceivable path to the nomination. Failure to do so will once again hand President Trump control of the republican ticket and ensure defeat for the GOP in 2024 and beyond.


Written by Adam Wildsmith

Adam Wildsmith is Deputy Director at Blue Beyond and a Journalism student at Newcastle University

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