A new analysis is explaining how former President Donald Trump's mentoring of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) could subsequently haunt him as the Republican Party braces for what's to come ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The Guardian's Cas Mudde is explaining how Trump paved the way for a new breed of Republican leaders and lawmakers who might be prepared to take over his role in the revolution he founded.
Mudde noted how many right-wing leaders and analysts were not pleased with the 2022 midterm election outcome and wasted no time pointing the figure at Trump. At the same time, some of those individuals were praising one of Trump's initial loyalists: the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
"On rightwing social media, people were emotionally debating the alleged toxicity of the former president and his hand-picked nominees, while Fox News highlighted the victory of the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, emphasizing that he is 'reviled by Trump,' while heralding the 'dominating win' of the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis," Mudde reports.
In fact, Mudde also noted that one Fox News personality even dubbed DeSantis “the new Republican party leader."
He added, "the idea that DeSantis is the big Republican winner of the midterms – and Trump the big loser – seems to be the broad consensus in today’s media."
However, according to Mudde, there is one individual who strongly disagrees: Trump, himself. "Sensing that the tables are turning rapidly," he wrote, "he went on Fox News to warn DeSantis to stay out of the 2024 presidential election. In his typical mafioso way, Trump said, 'I don’t know if he is running. I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I really believe he could hurt himself badly.'”
However, Mudde has pointed out the potential caveats of both candidates. "What Trump lacks in legal and political expertise, however, he compensates in charisma, something DeSantis sorely lacks," he explained. "The Florida governor has gained nationwide Republican support by what he does, not by who he is. DeSantis is a rather uninspiring speaker who neither draws large crowds nor captivates smaller ones"
"It is his actual fights with 'woke capitalism,' in the form of Disney, or 'woke academia,' in the form of the University of Florida, that supporters point to," Mudde wrote. "As he bragged in his victory speech on Tuesday night, 'Florida is where woke goes to die.'"
Comparing the two candidates, he noted:
"Moreover, DeSantis lacks that unique quality of Trump, authenticity, something the former president identified in bestowing the new moniker 'Ron DeSanctimonious.' And while Trump, rather uncharacteristically, seems to have dropped the nickname for now – after a barrage of criticism from rightwing media – you better believe he will return to it, or to even worse names, should he face DeSantis in a Republican primary."
Although DeSantis has emerged as a viable contender, Mudde still believes there is one very real issue for the political party.
"While DeSantis’ star might be rising, the Republican party remains at the mercy of Trump," he concluded. "The former president unleashed a revolution within the Republican party that has opened the door to people like DeSantis. Now the Florida governor and his supporters have less than two years to figure out how to continue that revolution without its original leader."