The ‘DeSantis Is Trump Without the Baggage’ Crowd is in for a Rude Awakening
Since President Trump left office, many of the “trustworthy” media outlets have created a talking point that is now held by a minority, yet noticeable number of Conservative Americans. The belief is “DeSantis is Trump, without the baggage.” This group supported President Trump’s policies and felt he did a tremendous job as president, but now feel the baggage that came with Trump would not be present with Ron DeSantis. Many have taken this a step further and believe this baggage would give DeSantis (or others) a better chance of winning in a general election against the Democrat nominee than President Trump.
The first and most important angle to consider when analyzing this stance is the present reality of American elections. President Trump’s seemingly insurmountable election night leads in 2020, which were significantly larger than his leads throughout the night in 2016, somehow vanished into slim Biden victories. In other words: Without our corrupt election systems being corrected, it doesn’t matter who runs since the winner is predetermined. Trump didn’t cost us; the election was stolen. But for the sake of this discussion, we’ll say that our elections are free and fair.
Despite his alleged loss, Trump gained more than 12 million votes from 2016 (and likely more,) the largest increase in vote total for any sitting president in American history and the highest vote total by any presidential candidate ever, aside from Biden’s highly suspicious 81 million votes that same year. So, the media-manufactured Trump baggage has not had any negative impact on voter enthusiasm for Trump. Based on his vote increasing by millions, you could make the argument the baggage led to more people rallying to support him.
Prior to 2016, Conservative voter enthusiasm in the previous two presidential elections was abysmal. John McCain and Mitt Romney both lost convincingly to Barack Obama due in large part to their politically correct, low energy approach to politics when conservatives were looking for the exact opposite.
The “Trump baggage” can be summarized as a combination of his brash style of politics and the never-ending war waged on him by the media. Ironically, Trump’s style was the change America sought, and his exposure of the corrupt media is what has kept him so popular. In essence, Trump is a product of the corrupt environment the media has created, and their hatred towards him makes him more popular. The “Trump baggage” is what was needed to move the needle enough for Trump to win states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that Republicans had not won since the 1980s.
Most of the baggage from the Trump presidency was completely manufactured by media with the purpose of doing exactly what it is accomplishing to an extent now: Diminish enthusiasm for Trump at any cost, no facts needed. The goal was never to prove any of the false accusations against Trump. They knew this was impossible; they created them.
Instead, they wanted to spread the false accusations enough that people either began to believe them or became so fatigued with the smears that they would abandon him. The Russia collusion hoax, both impeachments, the Stormy Daniels saga, and the now-concluded Trump tax returns are just a few examples of baggage that, in reality, were purely propaganda exercises to take him down. If there were anything of substance that could truly take down Trump, it would have been revealed long ago.
If those examples are considered “too much baggage,” could you imagine the media frenzy with issues of actual substance? Enter Ron DeSantis. To this point, it is obvious why the Florida Governor does not seem to have much baggage, and it isn’t because he has a squeaky-clean past. He currently has not declared a run for the presidency which is when most baggage is exposed (or manufactured.) There already are accusations ready to be weaponized when the time comes. Important to note, as seen with Trump: truth and facts are not needed to create baggage.
If DeSantis chooses to run for president, whether that is in the next election or sometime down the road, his opponents (from both parties) and leftist media will have no shortage of ammunition to create baggage specific to him. As Governor of Florida, DeSantis's image as a protector of school children and being “anti-groomer” has gone unchallenged. His press secretary Christina Pushaw (more on her later) took to Twitter to categorize his signing of the Parental Rights in Education Act as an “Anti-Grooming Bill.” Recently, he has been accused of partying with his own female students when DeSantis was a 23-year-old teacher in Georgia in 2001. Photo evidence shows DeSantis surrounded by 3 girls holding what looks like an alcoholic beverage. For someone whose appeal is largely due to his reputation of protecting students from “groomers,” photo evidence of DeSantis having a little too much fun with his own pupils is an ironically awful look and certainly baggage fuel.
Shortly after his teaching stint, DeSantis began a military career where he was a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer. The general consensus is that Liberals typically oppose wars more than Cconservatives do. However, Conservative opposition to U.S. involvement in military conflicts has become more common than during other eras. Which means accusations of DeSantis greenlighting cruel and inhumane forms of torture on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including force feeding detainees through a nasal feeding tube pushed down their throats while DeSantis allegedly watched in amusement, will eventually be addressed.
With the current, fragile state of foreign affairs, Americans now more than ever want to be sure the commander-in-chief is not being influenced by any foreign countries (such as now.) The American perception of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is unique, because while the majority of Americans oppose Putin and Russia, support for the U.S. to continue sending money to Ukraine is also dwindling. Which is why DeSantis GOP opponents will undoubtedly question him on his Press Secretary, Christina Pushaw, who recently had to register as a foreign agent because of her paid work with, of all people, a Ukrainian politician named Mikheil Saakashvili. She also shared a tweet in February of 2022 stating she supported Zelensky, was in Ukraine when Zelensky won the primary and that a “big party” ensued. While U.S. support for Ukraine heavily outweighs support for Russia, having close ties to a foreign agent of a country the U.S. continues sending endless amounts of money to will certainly create baggage within the GOP should DeSantis choose to enter the race.
Try picturing the amount of baggage that would come with accusations of DeSantis drinking and partying with his own female students, alleged first-hand accounts about his role in inhumane forms of torture that violate international law, his former press secretary and current rapid response director registering as a foreign agent, and recently having warmonger John Bolton promote him. Again, allegations are all that is needed to create baggage, not facts. The baggage potential for DeSantis makes Trump’s look like peanuts.
So, if DeSantis does run, those pulling for him solely for baggage purposes will be severely disappointed. When DeSantis is faced with his own, two things are possible. He could cave and apologize under the pressure, which is the opposite of what Conservatives want. Or the more likely scenario would be him refuting, defending, or denying the attacks, which is exactly what President Trump has always done. But whichever response occurs, there is no scenario where DeSantis would be baggage-free. So, the “DeSantis is Trump without baggage” group must shift the question they ask themselves to this: Which of the two is better equipped to withstand the attacks? There is no doubt the answer to that question is Donald Trump.
Matt Kane is a writer who graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. Follow on Truth Social: @MattKane
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (cropped) CC BY-SA 2.0 license