After a brief hiatus, I am proud to announce the return of the Gutless on Principles (GOP) Hall of Shame awards with the enshrinement of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.
When DeSantis was reelected governor in 2022, he appeared to possess many of the “right” conservative credentials — pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-Woke — and ready to defend conservative values against overwhelming opposition.
However, as we all know, conservatism in the Age of Trump has been hijacked by nationalism and fascism, bearing little to no resemblance to conservative values. Additionally, the Trumpist Republican Party of which Ron DeSantis is a member has no tolerance for anyone who refuses to embrace this new “conservatism.”
Even though certain Conservative, Inc. talking heads in the media (I won’t mention any names, but his initials are Steve Deace) spend a lot of time defending DeSantis as a “not Trump” Republican, the Florida governor has been living on the edge of full-blown Trumpism. And when he gets caught doing so, he does what every faux conservative Trumpist possessing no core values does; he plays both sides of the issue.
For example, in a recent interview with pro-Russia Fox News host Tucker Carlson, DeSantis has parroted the anti-Ukraine talking points loved by Donald Trump and the Vladimir Putin and criticized U.S. support for Kyiv. DeSantis argued that helping Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s ongoing invasion was not in the “vital national interests” of the United States (via BusinessInsider.com):
“While the US has many vital national interests — securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party — becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis wrote in response to a questionnaire from Carlson.
But this is a 180° reversal of his position when he was a member of Congress in 2015 and criticized Obama for not sending lethal aid to Ukraine to fight against the Kremlin-backed rebels in the country’s eastern Donbas region.
“We in the Congress have been urging the president, I’ve been, to provide arms to Ukraine. They want to fight their good fight. They’re not asking us to fight it for them. And the president has steadfastly refused. And I think that that’s a mistake,” DeSantis said in a 2015 radio interview with conservative talk radio host Bill Bennett, which was recently unearthed and reported on by CNN.
As if this flip-flop wasn’t enough, DeSantis went back to supporting Ukraine after taking heat from fellow Republicans for calling the Russian invasion a “territorial dispute” (via NationalReview.com):
“Russia did not have the right to go into Crimea or to go in February of 2022 and that should be clear…”
Another issue where DeSantis acted one way as a member of Congress and another way as a Trumpist Republican running for president is Social Security.
DeSantis identified as a Tea Party conservative during his 2012 campaign for Congress when he embraced privatizing Medicare and Social Security. Yet, he recently promised not to touch Social Security, and he justified his doublemindedness on the matter by saying Joe Biden did the same thing.
For the record, being for or against giving aid to Ukraine and being for or against blowing up Social Security is open to debate. That’s not the issue. The issue is that DeSantis is gutless when it comes to his principles; he’s a two-faced liar who takes whatever position on an issue he feels gives him the greatest political leverage at any given time.
Ron DeSantis’ Trumpism and faux conservatism weren’t the only considerations used to determine his eligibility for enshrinement into the Gutless on Principles (GOP) Hall of Shame; his embrace of nationalism and fascism also played a part.
Governor Ron DeSantis has been riding a wave of popularity with so-called conservatives across America as a defender of free market capitalism and liberty, but when we look beyond the rhetoric, we see that the Florida governor loves nationalism and fascism; and he governs accordingly.
Once the exclusive purview of Democratic Socialists and the Far-Left, liberty-killing big government has been embraced by so-called conservatives within the Republican Party under the banner of “America First” nationalism, a key component of the Donald Trump era.
This rebrand served as the inspiration behind the first annual National Conservatism Conference held in 2019, a get-together where participants explored new ways to use the hammer and sickle of big government to right the “wrongs” brought about by traditional conservatism.
National conservatives believe traditional conservatism has paid too much attention to freedom and not enough to virtue; that conservatives have grown infatuated with limited government when bigger government is needed. National conservatives claim to reject the socialist belief that the state can and should dictate economic activity, yet they call for “conservative” governments to rein in the free market by using economic policy in the name of protecting “national” interests.
During an appearance at last year’s National Conservatism Conference, DeSantis accused “corporate America” of having too much power, and he made a commitment to wield government power against people who don’t meet his expectations. DeSantis further stated that the Republican Party should seek to replicate his agenda.
In an hourlong speech, DeSantis said Republicans’ approach and thinking about big business needs to change, arguing that his experiences in Florida provide a “lesson for people on the right.”
“What I’m doing is using government to give space to the individual citizen to be able to participate in society to be able to speak his or her mind,” DeSantis said.
“And I think that’s an absolutely appropriate use of government power.” (Emphasis mine)
Another area considered for Ron DeSantis’ enshrinement into the Gutless on Principles (GOP) Hall of shame is his Trump-styled attacks on free speech — a foundational part of his presidential ambitions.
In May 2021, DeSantis made good on his promise to destroy the free speech rights of so-called Big Tech when he signed a law he claimed would “[protect] the speech of Floridians who face being removed from social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook” while conveniently leaving out the part about the massive fines he would levy against social media companies for removing political candidates from their platforms.
DeSantis’ anti-free speech law didn’t last long. In July 2021, a federal judge blocked it because it violated free speech rights.
In April 2022, DeSantis signed the Orwellian-sounding “Individual Freedom Act” — aka the “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act” or “Stop Woke Act” — into law even though it was a foregone conclusion that it would end up in court and that it would be found to be an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
The Stop Woke Act is currently being appealed by the Florida governor after multiple losses in the courts where it has been found to violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments and is, therefore, unconstitutional.
For his surrender in the war for the soul of conservatism, his capitulation to Trumpism, and for laying aside his principles in the name of political convenience, we enshrine Governor Ron DeSantis into the Gutless on Principles (GOP) Hall of Shame.
Disclaimer: The GOP establishment, Trumpists, and faux conservatives do not endorse the Gutless on Principles (GOP) Hall of Shame award. My opinions are my own, and I’ve got lots of them. Opinions expressed are 100% “right” and any similarity to actual opinions, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.
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