GOP betting on ‘sadism’ — and if they’re right we’re all heading into the ‘abyss’: columnist
Ron DeSantis on Facebook.

Republicans are testing out sadism as a political strategy, and there are dire consequences if their bet pays off, warns a columnist for The Daily Beast.

Donald Trump and his would-be successor Ron DeSantis have centered the GOP around tormenting and humiliating the vulnerable, according to Daily Beast columnist David R. Lurie, but the Florida governor's insecurity have driven him to more obvious and clumsy attempts to cause torment.

"DeSantis has shown himself to be a supremely non-creative politician," Lurie writes. "He has systematically copied whatever happens to be the extreme right-wing trolling strategy of the moment, and then amped it up. And at every point during his tenure, the governor has anxiously looked backwards to see if any rival (including Trump) had out-extremed him."

The governor set himself apart from his GOP rivals by making cruelty and humiliation central to his brand, Lurie argues, and he engaged a shadowy outside group to send asylum seekers from Texas, for some reason, to Martha's Vineyard under false pretenses, and he tipped off Fox News but chose not to inform authorities in Massachusetts.

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"Apparently, DeSantis expected that the Vineyard’s residents would recoil from the desperate asylum seekers, allowing Fox News’ viewers to savor both the suffering of the migrants and seeing the 'libs' exposed as hypocrites, expecting them to be just as cruel as DeSantis encourages his own followers to be," Lurie writes.

"It didn’t work out that way," he adds. "The Vineyard’s residents responded to the unexpected presence of viciously victimized asylum seekers with compassion and assistance. And then government officials relocated the migrants a short distance to the Cape Cod mainland, which had facilities and resources available to help them."

The sadistic stunt backfired, setting DeSantis off balance, but he and other Republicans are continuing to double down on the performative cruelty in a bet that voters take pleasure in harming others.

"Now, many in the GOP seek to 'move beyond Trump' by replacing him with a supremely non-charismatic and thoroughly disagreeable figure, who seems only to come alive while coming up with new ways to performatively humiliate and harm the vulnerable," Lurie writes. "The GOP, therefore, appears to be on the verge of a political science experiment with very high stakes: "Testing whether sadism can become the foundation for political success."

"If they are wrong, the Republican Party may be heading into a political abyss," Lurie concludes. "If they are right, the country is going there."