DeSantis Finds His Voice: A NatCon Culture Warrior Who Praised a Prominent White Nationalist
[Note: An update has been posted at the bottom of this article.]
There is no role in which the old maxim “personnel is policy” is more apt than that of presidential speechwriter. And there is good reason for that role to hold its exalted place in the mythos of the office.
Trump’s “American Carnage” was no doubt shaped by the dark, nativist views of his Gollum-like muse. Obama’s West Wing–era hopey-changey optimism was colored by the earnest and youthful pod-bros who wrote for him. And Bush’s Chesterton-infused evangelizing was sculpted by the faith of Michael Gerson and Matthew Scully. To say nothing of the last century’s legendary scribes for Reagan, JFK, and FDR (whose speechwriters included a multi-Pulitzer-winning playwright).
So I perked up when I heard scuttlebutt a few weeks ago that Ron DeSantis had chosen a speechwriter not from the ranks of the GOP’s classically liberal old order, but from the brash online “new right” that is more animated by culture wars and MAGA identity politics than by free markets and free people.
This week the writer, Nate Hochman, revealed himself in the very online way one might expect of a Gen Z wannabe power staffer—by updating his Twitter bio:
Earlier this month, it was reported that Hochman had gone to work for the Republican Party of Florida; his updated bio indicates that he won’t be just on the comms team, but will be crafting the words that come out of the governor’s mouth. (I reached out to DeSantis’s office for comment on the hire but have not heard back by the time of publication.)
Hochman, a conservative writer who has earned more ink by the age of 25 than anyone this side of Justin Bieber, has garnered a reputation as a young MAGA whisperer. The New Republic tagged him as one of “the radical young intellectuals who want to take over the American right.” He’s written for the Dispatch, National Review (where he was on staff), the Claremont Institute’s American Mind (where he interned), and more. Heck, even the Gray Lady turned to Hochman for a think piece about the secular culture war.
But like every MAGA intellectual (or “intellectual”) before him, Hochman, has found it necessary to cozy up to the movement’s gutter-dwelling racists in order to climb the ladder of influence.
As first reported by the Dispatch last year, Hochman participated in a Twitter Space with white nationalist virgin Nick Fuentes—and lavishly praised him. “We were just talking about your influence and we were saying, like, you’ve gotten a lot of kids ‘based’ and we respect that for sure,” Hochman said. “I literally said, I think Nick’s probably a better influence than Ben Shapiro on young men who might otherwise be conservative.”
He went on to discuss the merits and demerits of one of America’s most vile humans, saying the fact that he has said “super edgy things means that there’s a pretty strong ceiling to what you can actually accomplish in politics.”
“Edgy” is definitely one way to describe Holocaust denial!
When the Dispatch asked him about his Fuentes remarks, Hochman acknowledged that he said some “really stupid things, which I don’t actually believe”—but did not apologize.
In the intervening time The Bulwark was provided with the audio from the Twitter space—and it turns out that complimenting a white nationalist was not the only stupid thing Hochman uttered that day.
During his naked attempt to get Fuentes to think he was also based, Hochman says “when the man’s right, he’s right” in response to Fuentes’s claim that “women are goofy, okay, they should have no authority, they should have no authority over men.” Then, after Fuentes says that women “just really have no business in politics,” Hochman repeats his response: “When the man’s right, he’s right.”
Hochman later asked Fuentes how he plans to deal with the fact that “50 percent of American whites are, like, shitlibs now” if he wants to be successful in advancing white identity politics.
Women are goofy and shouldn’t be allowed in politics.
Half of white people are shitlibs.
Wanting to see if it’s true that Hochman “didn’t believe” the things he said in 2021 and was instead just trying to impress a racist douchebag, I listened to another longform interview from this past August during which the MAGA wunderkind laid out his ideology.
In this sitdown with the MAGA nonprofit American Moment, Hochman says, “I would just describe myself as a culture warrior first and foremost. I think that’s the easiest way to really think of it.” He believes that “at the forefront of what conservatism means” is “putting whatever it takes to resist the cultural revolution” brought on by the left. He says he hopes that the “Republican party agenda is going to cohere around the culture war as its organizing, totalizing force.”
As part of that #war, he offers a statement that echoes the message being put out by former President Trump saying that America’s “enemies are domestic not foreign.” Hochman says that it’s a “tragedy” that the debate around the “definition of marriage” is over and claims that we “wouldn’t be talking about transgenderism if we hadn’t first destroyed the meaning of marriage.”
With someone like Hochman aboard, it’s not a surprise that DeSantis’s first foray into foreign policy was a Tucker-approved written statement in which he tilted hard toward the party’s MAGA isolationist wing. Or that he backtracked from that in his first interview following the statement.
This will be one of the defining questions of the DeSantis campaign: Will pre-MAGA Ron re-emerge and bring aboard the GOP old guard? Or will he keep leaning toward the groypers and Orbánists and culture warriors on the nationalist “new right”?
The answer will depend on DeSantis himself—and on the staffers and advisers he chooses to surround himself with. Hochman’s hire is an early sign of which way it will go.
Update (March 26, 2023, 4:45 p.m. EDT): Within 24 hours of this article’s publication, Nate Hochman had changed his Twitter bio, downgrading his self-description from “Speechwriter @RonDeSantisFl” to the more ambiguous “Team @RonDeSantisFl.”