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This is where, IMO, Trumpism always had a pretty rapid half-life. There is nobody quite like Trump, and everyone that's be Trump to its fullest extent has fallen on their face. Some have managed to wed a certain degree of Trumpiness with a more responsible form of governance (they talk like populists and invite attacks from all the "right people" but quietly, so nobody notices, they govern like how Republicans governed before Trump came along). But the need to be Trumpy is going to fade as Trump himself fades.

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Mar 3, 2023·edited Mar 3, 2023

Hypothesis: DeSantis:Trump::Stalin:Lenin.

What does it mean? The sloppy, eccentric, charismatic innovator creates a hierarchical structure for ostensibly idealistic purposes (vanguard party of the proletariat, MAGA movement); the dour, ambitious, cunning power-broker steps in and exploits it, putting himself at the top, achieving a level of mastery and adoration he could never have achieved on his own - to far more influential and terrible effect.

What do you think?

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In my opinion, the key thing that makes Trump more dangerous than DeSantis is the personality cult. No one is going to storm the capitol on behalf of Ron DeSantis. He doesn't have the charisma. Trump is an entertainer, he knows this, he uses it to great effect. Anything DeSantis does in office can be undone without risking violence in the streets. I can't say that about Trump.

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Charlie,

I just listened to your podcast with Jennifer Senior and I have to say, it was wonderful!! I shared it with so many friends. As a 56 y/o, I could relate to almost everything. I’m keeping this one and plan on listening to it again and again!

Love the Bulwark!

Thank you!!

LeeAnn

Oak Park, IL

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I'm still not 100 percent convinced that Trump is “much more dangerous” than DeSantis. Both are morally bankrupt – but while one is half crazy, the other is highly cunning.

Trump and DeSantis are both domineering bullies. Trump is driven by self-interest. DeSantis is driven by self-interest and self-righteousness. He wants and knows how to use the law to force his own ideology on the country.

DeSantis is just as ruthless as Trump, as his ugly rhetoric and readiness to lie about his opponents demonstrates. He is just as cruel as Trump – look at how he shipped migrants to Martha's Vineyard.

DeSantis is also just as big a hypocrite as Trump, shown by the way he accuses others of trying to indoctrinate children - as he takes steps to legally control what kids from can see, hear, and read from kindergarten through college.

Consider what it says about DeSantis that he used young black children as props to hold up anti-CRT signs when he signed the bill they couldn't possibly have understood - a bill that is having a chilling effect on teaching truthful black history.

Trump and DeSantis - put their lust for power on a scale, along with their lack of respect for democratic norms, and DeSantis 's authoritarianism may weigh even heavier than Trump's.

DeSantis is even better than Trump at fanning the culture wars. He knows how to frame some issues in ways that appeal to voters beyond the MAGA base.

Summing up, yes Trump is crazy but that means maybe a few people will perhaps at least try to rein him in – although not very likely to succeed. In contrast, DeSantis disciples will regard him as completely competent and admirable as he further breaks apart the guard rails of our democracy.

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founding

The comments about Trump vs DeSantis are excellent! Erudite, thoughtful, informed, insightful. Charlie’s gonna have to step up his game!

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Sorry, but DeSantis is worse than T because more GOPers believe that he isn't as dangerous. As a teacher (29 years) and a lesbian who has never asked students about their preferences/identities but have had them seek me out to talk, DeSantis' mandates regarding schools scream danger to me. While DeSantis may not be as vociferous as T, his goals are crystal clear. T's only goal was to be in power and he would do whatever he thought would be popular. DeSantis is actually making topics popular (e.g. gender/LGBTQ+ issues specifically). Was this even an issue before he made it one? One of my measures is actually my own brother, a devout repub; he didn't vote for T either time but he would eagerly vote for DeSantis. I suspect we can multiply my brother's endorsement by enough to earn him the W.

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Isn't Trump from New York?

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Ron DeSantis calls the police on me before Press conferences to keep me from asking inconvenient questions.

He is worse than Trump.

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founding

Sounds like he’s a scared little weenie boy.

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What?? Holy sh*t. Could we hear more about this, please? Have you written about it on your page?

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Jennifer, dont be ashamed of your favorite music :)

I am not even discouraged by the dj we hired for our 50 party when he saw the music list. „Ha. That will be funny“ is what he said.

And I will love every second of this 80s homage :) a-ha is forever!

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I've been pondering what Fox should have to pay Dominion. I think a reasonable amount is $1.6 billion plus, as punitive damages the current market value of Fox as of today. That amount is >$18 billion. This should put them out of business, criminal scum that they are.

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Trump has no values, belief system or political philosophy. He has also shown that he is a narcissist and values ego over everything else. As bad as this combination is, people witness qualities can be influenced and bought over. Not saying it is easy, but in general such characters are fluid and that can be exploited.

DeSantis on the other hand has a political philosophy that intends to subvert any opposition. He also has the willingness to use his power and his government to go after anybody who dare oppose him, even in the slightest sense. He clearly takes pleasure in bring down his opponents and imposing his thoughts. DeSantis will do everything bad that Trump did, just more effectively and amplified.

Given the above, how DeSantis is not worse than Trump is beyond me. This is the stance I think many Never Trumpers will begin to take to get back into the Republican fold. They also expose themselves as being ok with what Trump was doing, so long it was done without being overt and crass.

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Is the Bulwark starting to normalize fascism in the name of “Conservative” with a less evil than the former guy? Op-Ed like this makes me feel disappointed. If these guys think DeSantis’s policies should be applied nationally we are doomed full blown fascism. This is what’s wrong with GOP supporters, for some reason you embrace a cult mindset.

It starts subtle and then we will be like Florida. Sad!

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https://www.wfla.com/news/politics/florida-bill-would-require-bloggers-who-write-about-governor-to-register-with-the-state/

Ohh look…Just an example of the Florida policies that might not be an existential threat to the US. (Please note my sarcasm tone).

I wonder how would this apply outside of Florida?

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author

No. We've been quite critical of DeSantis's illiberalism.. and will continue to be. But we also need to remember the unique existential danger that Trump poses. DeSantis is awful, and we're never going to support him, but a reminder: no one is as bad as Trump.

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[no one is as bad as Trump.]

This might well be right, but it seems rather absolute. History is full of examples of assumptions of what can't happen being proven wrong. John Sedgewick comes to mind.

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You've definitely been willing to criticize DeSantis, but I think we may be operating from a different definition of "existential danger".

Trump's authoritarianism was always performative above all else. He persecuted his enemies purely for show, and if the audience stopped applauding he would move on to something else. Sure, he was cruel and capricious, but like a dangerous animal he could be controlled and managed.

DeSantis on the other hand is ideologically driven. DeSantis really believes wiping out LGBT and "woke" people is the right thing and that no one less than god has appointed him to that purpose. He can't be reasoned with. You won't distract him with shiny cameras or cheering audiences.

And we've seen this in action. Trump wasted his oppressive efforts on dumb, broad overreach that was 90% signaling and would almost always be thrown out by the courts. He couldn't indulge his worst instincts because there were enough people on both sides there to stand in the way. DeSantis on the other hand has the veneer of normality and the knowledge to push his laws through. He's already turned Florida into a hellscape for LGBT people and teachers. He's arresting voters who haven't committed any crime other than trying to do that the state said they could. He redrew the Florida electoral map to his personal whims, persecuted state health department whistleblowers, and has introduced a massive raft of anti-1st amendment legislation.

So while as a straight, white, decently wealthy, male Trump might be more dangerous to you personally, to any one else DeSantis seems the far more pertinent threat.

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Exactly! 1000 ❤s.

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Cathy Young’s perspective is so valuable. I was also happy to read the piece by Katherine Gehl. I heard her on Wisconsin Public Radio several years ago. I do think she’s right about this. I’m going to see what I can do locally.

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"Clearly being strangled is worse than being thrown into the ocean and drowning!" Maybe, but both are horrible in subtly different ways.

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Charlie,

I think you are looking at this wrong. When Trump was a presidential candidate, our main concerns were his dishonesty, corruption, racism and stupidity--mainly his corruption and dishonestly. Trump's authoritarian tendencies grew during his presidency. DeSantis is already largely there and he has exhibited many more authoritarian traits as a candidate (assuming he runs) than Trump did as a candidate. In short, your claim that he is not as bad as Trump requires one to pretend we are looking at his ceiling. But there was little evidence of DeSantis's authoritarian tendencies until the last 12-18 months and he has expanded his authoritarianism by leaps and bounds during that time frame. Do you really believe we are seeing his ceiling? If not, then how can you claim he is not as bad if not worse than Trump as a threat to democracy?

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