BRYAN ADELINE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ron DeSantis grew up in Dunedin, Florida, a nice medium-sized town a short drive or boat ride north of St. Pete. When he was in high school, he went to the Little League World Series. He has some cool trophies in his trophy case from that experience. He's also earned his undergraduate at Yale and continued on to Harvard Law. He graduated with high honors at Yale as well as with honors at Harvard Law. He's a genuinely smart guy.
He isn't the doltish son of a well-connected legacy like George W. Bush, nor is he the son of a stinking rich scumbag who bought his kid a seat by paying for a building on campus like Jared Kushner's dad did. So, how does someone like DeSantis, who earned himself the best education available in the United States, become such a bottom-feeding, low-information, dog-whistling, hate-mongering, Trumpisti?
In DeSantis' first comments as a statewide candidate, he distinguished himself by trotting out a couple of blatantly racist terms aimed to label his opponent first and foremost as a Black man for his Fox watching supporters. When Fox disavowed the comments within hours following a nationwide backlash by their own viewers, DeSantis himself refused to offer anything that could be construed as contrition or an apology in any way.
Since then, it's been discovered that DeSantis has been a regular speaker at the annual meeting called the Freedom Restoration Weekend, organized by hardcore Islamophobe David Horowitz. Islamophobia has featured prominently in DeSantis' appearances for years. The connection of this perspective with his service as a JAG officer in the Navy, including time stationed at Guantanamo, could play a part, but he has yet to be specifically questioned on this topic.
He's been strongly anti-Latin immigration and has been only too happy to rave about sanctuary cities and the dangers posed by undocumented immigrants in just the style Trump has made fashionable among fellow Republicans. In truth, DeSantis fear-mongered the issue years before Trump entered politics.
Why is a man who has all the credentials of a top-notch intellect so seemingly bereft of intelligent things to say or intelligent solutions to genuine problems? Surely he could craft elegant conservative approaches to the challenges of government? Yet he returns again and again to socially divisive statements to problems that often aren't problems, and when they are, don't apply to governing at the state level.
Why does DeSantis want to be governor of Florida?
At this point it's hard to tell.
He has spent most of his stump time engaging in the usual Republican talking points of smaller government, lower taxes, stronger security and more guns for everyone. He has made the usual statements that all Florida politicians have to make against fracking and offshore oil drilling (even though the current governor tried to sneak both into existence during his mercifully soon-to-end term in Tallahassee).
He hasn't explained a blessed thing about how any of these pillars of the converted will be turned into policy that will actually accomplish anything of value for the state and people of Florida.
On Thursday, DeSantis finally released his very first position paper on Everglades restoration. He says he's all for it. Beyond that, he says he'll follow sound science to keep our waters clean and abundant. Of course. by science he means "not science," since he wants studies done. Studies have already been done, and they explain in great detail the obvious causes and solutions to the fouling of our waters and the sickness of the Everglades.
In a typical language game, when asked if there is such a thing as human-caused climate change, DeSantis' reply is "Of course humans affect the environment." Sure we do. Every time a kid picks up a smooth, flat stone and bounces it across a lake, a human affects the environment. What blather. It seems the best DeSantis can come up with is that his buddy Trump will give Florida a billion dollars for restoration projects. Dare I say, for the long-defined process of repairing the central to south Florida ecosystem, a billion dollars is a drop in the bucket.
So far, the only reason I can find for DeSantis running for governor is that he can't run for the Senate, which he intended to do when Marco Rubio initially announced he wasn't running for reelection after his washout drubbing by Trump in the presidential primaries. When Rubio predictably changed his mind, DeSantis dropped his bid. It seems all DeSantis wants is another job that he won't have any interest in actually doing, just as he's done very little except toe the party line as a congressman in DC.
In politics, sometimes ambition can be a catalyzing character trait, inspiring one to broaden and deepen a commitment to living up to the promise of American democracy through service to the people. Sometimes, it's just another ego-fluffing title to add to a trophy case.