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Ron DeSantis Is Walking Into a Trap

The same one that Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren both walked into.
May 8, 2023
DeSantis's Extreme Florida Agenda Explained | Not My Party with Tim Miller

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tim Miller: Put on your wellies, DeSantis is going off the deep end.

Brett Hand (from Inside Job): Who could have predicted this?

Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. There’s no need to beat around the bush. Ron DeSantis is running for president.

Jay Arondekar (Utkarsh Ambudkar on Ghosts): Whaaat?

Miller: He might not have officially announced but he’s got a super PAC filled with Ted Cruz strategists, he’s traveling the globe to try and boost his foreign policy bona fides, and he’s sending mailers to my friends in Iowa.

Sterling Archer (from Archer): Eh, probably just a coincidence.

Miller: But most critically, he’s advancing a far-right legislative agenda in Florida that he thinks will appeal to a GOP primary electorate.

Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock): Give me an example.

Miller: Sure! Well, for starters, he’s changing the law so that the state’s governor can run for president without resigning.

Blake Downs (Rob Corddry on Children’s Hospital): I can do both.

Miller: But it’s the rest of the agenda that’s worth focusing on. Let’s dive in. In Florida, Ron’s changing the fifteen-week abortion ban so that it goes into effect after six weeks.

Sylvester (from Looney Tunes): Six weeks?

Craig Tucker (from South Park): Are you nuts?

Miller: Implementing constitutional carry, which allows people to pack heat without training, a background check, or a license.

Eric Cartman (from South Park): What could possibly go wrong?

Miller: Vastly expanding the use of the death penalty.

Toby Domzalski (from Trollhunters): Kill them all, kill them all.

Miller: Banning drag queen story hour.

Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer on The Office): No, what? Why?

Miller: Expanding the Don’t Say Gay bill all the way through high school.

Roadhouse Thug (Brad Kelly in Sonic the Hedgehog): We don’t like your kind around here.

Miller: And getting millions in the budget to fly more illegal migrants to blue states in order to troll Joe Biden.

Perry Cox (John C. McGinley on Scrubs): Are you starting to see a pattern forming here?

Miller: Plus, he’s still in that high-profile legal fight with Disney, forever enraged that they had the gall to criticize his anti-gay bills and put a girl-girl kiss in the Buzz Lightyear movie.

Irving Rosenfeld in voiceover (Christian Bale in American Hustle): Seeing that scarred me for life.

Miller: To me, this is an agenda that appeals less to actual voters than it does to super-online weirdos, like Charlie Kirk and Steven Crowder.

Charlie Kirk: TikTok is turning kids trans.

Steven Crowder: The victims of rape would generally be those who are most desirable sexually. Like you don’t carjack a ’98 Oldsmobile.

Hilary Crowder: Your abuse is sick.

Steven Crowder to Hillary Crowder: Watch it.

Steven Crowder to podcast audience: My wife decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore.

Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham in Hocus Pocus 2): Can’t imagine why.

Stan Smith (from American Dad): Good, old-fashioned conservative values.

Miller: And consider how many Republicans don’t like some of these policies. In one Florida poll, 62 percent of them oppose permitless care, and Republican women in Congress spoke out against DeSantis on the six-week abortion ban—watch:

Nancy Mace: Signing a six-week ban that puts women who are victims of rape and girls are victims of incest in a hard spot isn’t the way to change hearts and minds.

Miller: I talked to a top Democratic strategist recently who said that DeSantis’s antics remind him of the Elizabeth Warren campaign in 2020. She went hard left to try to outflank Bernie and did cringe pandering with things like Black Womxn for Liz, all of which hurt her electability case in that campaign.

Bertie Songthrush (from Tuca & Bertie): Nope, too far.

Miller: As it turns out, appealing to hardcore poasters might get you a lot of retweets, but it turns off a lot of normies.

Jim Harper (John Krasinski on The Offie): Nope, nope, nope.

Miller: Here’s a key insight about Trump that a lot of people miss. When he won in 2016, many voters saw him as the moderate option.

Linda Belcher and Dominic (from Bob’s Burgers): Wait, what?

Miller: Right now I know that might seem crazy. Banning Muslims: not moderate. But on a host of other issues, Trump cultivated an image that was less ideologically rigid than his opponents. He seemed way chiller than Ted Cruz on gays and abortion. He said he wouldn’t cut Social Security and Medicare. And he attacked the foreign-policy hawks in both parties for war-mongering. This allowed him to win over both the extreme members of the base that like how he fought the libs on cultural issues, but also appeal to casuals who liked The Apprentice that thought that some of the super-Christian Republicans were a little out there.

Beesly: I call it the perfect storm.

Miller: DeSantis seems to be walking right into that same trap that Cruz and Warren found themselves in: being too much of a try-hard when it comes to reaching the ideologues. DeSantis is best positioned against Trump if voters see him as a fighter who stood up to Fauci and the left while also seeming like somebody that can actually win. Because if he comes off as a weirdo pushing unpopular policies, then what’s the case for switching horses from Trump midstream again? There isn’t one.

Louise (Nichole Sakura on Maggie): I can’t tell if that’s better or worse.

Miller: So Ron, if you want to get to the White House, it’s time to get out of the far-right fever swamps, if you’re capable of that.

Gandalf (Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey): That remains to be seen.

Miller: We’ll see you next time for more “Not My Party.” Go Nugs!

Nikola Jokic: In this time of the year, you cannot think about it, you just need to score and try to do everything what you need to do to win a game.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.