Ron DeSantis Looks Great On Paper. But Is He Really The Great America-First Hope?
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign announcement on Wednesday got off to a rough start with a glitchy Twitter Space that shut down before he even began speaking [Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign launch melts down in Twitter glitches, by David Ingram and Matt Dixon, NBC, May 24, 2023]. But once he began speaking, he delivered a speech many immigration patriots would like. His first topic was immigration and the invasion at the southwest border. He also attacked Critical Race Theory and the “woke mind virus.” DeSantis looks like a strong America Firster in what he says and in his record. But his personality and some of his actions cast doubt on his being a great nationalist leader. Despite the many good things about him, he might not have what it takes to lead the GOP in the right direction.

“American decline is not inevitable—it is a choice. And we should choose a new direction—a path that will lead to American revitalization,” DeSantis said as his opening pitch. “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.” He quickly shifted to the southwest border, where drugs and illegal aliens are pouring into the country. He emphasized that crime is hollowing out American cities and that woke indoctrination is ruining our schools. He offered a platform of strong borders and law and order to challenge the chaos that the radical left has inflicted upon Americans with impunity since Biden took office.

He offered further thoughts on immigration in answering a question.

I’ve put a lot of my capital as Florida governor involved in combating illegal immigration. We banned sanctuary cities. My first year, we just did a strong anti-illegal immigration bill in Florida that’s working. I’ve put marine assets in the Florida Keys to help the Coast Guard repel boats from places like Haiti. …

I have people at the southern border right now helping Texas and we’ve even been able to relocate illegal aliens to places like Martha’s Vineyard. So I don’t think any governor has probably gone out of his way to do more to try to make an impact on this issue. And I’m not going to take no for an answer. And I think our voters are sick of the empty promises. They want to see action.

DeSantis’s robotic delivery wasn’t as strong as his message, and Elon Musk took up much of the discussion. It wasn’t the best way to start a presidential campaign. But personality aside, his record in Florida on VDARE’s signature issue is arguably the best of any governor.

DeSantis recently signed what’s touted as the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in the country. The plan mandates the following:

DeSantis has also proposed a separate bill, yet to pass the legislature, that would strip illegals of in-state tuition.

The bills do not address legal immigration. But in the past, DeSantis has implied he wants to restrict legal immigration. Speaking at the 2022 National Conservatism Conference, he discussed legal immigration with respect to our national interests, not those of immigrants, recalling immigration restrictions of the past:

[T]his idea of mass immigration, whether it’s illegal immigration, or whether it’s just mass immigration through the legal process, like the Diversity Lottery or chain migration, that is not conducive to assimilating people into American society.

So the national interests of our country, and we’ve had a variety of different immigration policies throughout our country’s history, we’ve had periods where we had high immigration levels that we had success, but we’ve also had periods where we had great success with immigration levels being very low, such as the years, decades after World War Two.

So the issue is, is how does immigration serve the people of the United States and the national interests? We’re not globalists who believe that foreigners have a right to come into our country whenever they want to. It’s what we think is the right thing to do.

He also challenged legal immigration in his 2023 book, The Courage To Be Free:

Our nation needs immigration policies that recognize and enforce the country’s sovereignty, not just by having a wall at the southern border but also by quickly repatriating those in the country illegally. An erroneous claim of asylum should not give a foreign national a ticket to settle in the interior of our country.

Nor should the legal immigration system have policies such as the diversity lottery and chain migration; instead, the immigration system should be merit-based; favor assimilation, not mass migration; and be geared toward benefiting the wages of working-class Americans.

Maybe DeSantis reads VDARE. The comments certainly sound like he cribbed them from our columns.

The one blemish on DeSantis’s immigration record was his refusal to bus illegals out of the state. He famously flew 50 illegals from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year. But that’s it, and those illegals weren’t even dwelling in Florida. His administration actually caved to the Cuban Lobby and vowed to not ship out any Cuban illegals. That suggests DeSantis might not pursue immigration restriction in order to appease the mega-powerful Cuban Lobby.

DeSantis’ pushing back against anti-white indoctrination in schools, universities, and businesses has been stellar. He signed a ban on Critical Race Theory in public schools, universities, and in government workplaces. The bill, known as the Stop WOKE Act, is intended to eliminate all “diversity, equity, and inclusion” indoctrination in these places. A leftist kritarch blocked its stipulations concerning higher education, but DeSantis is still fighting for the bill in court [Federal judge blocks ’Stop Woke Act,’ again, by Danielle Seat, WPTV, March 16, 2023].

Last week, DeSantis signed a measure to prohibit state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in higher education. “DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,” he argued. He’s also turned the New College of Florida into a conservative experiment where woke ideology is systematically removed from all facets of that institution [Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill banning DEI initiatives in public colleges, by Jaclyn Diaz, WMRA, May 15, 2023].

All of these programs teach anti-white racism, so it’s critical to outlaw them. DeSantis has done a good job on that front. However, there are weaknesses to his effort.

In the Twitter space, he proudly boasted that his ban on CRT also “required teaching thoroughly about racial discrimination that occurred in American history.” That sounds a bit woke.

DeSantis also made it mandatory to teach “Asian American and Pacific Islander” history. The AAPI requirement further encourages anti-white identity politics among faculty and students. DeSantis earned the dubious distinction of being the first Republican governor to make those courses a requirement in public education [DeSantis signs bill requiring AAPI history in Florida schools, by Carl Samson, NextShark, May 11, 2023].

One might call all these minor problems. But a big one is the bill he signed in April, in Israel, of all places, that elevated minor nuisances into hate crimes. Designed to counter imaginary “anti-Semitism,” the bill criminalizes “hate” on private property and on college campuses. So projecting an anti-immigration message on a building might now send a person to jail for several years. This bill is an attack on free speech and it serves no real purpose other than to please the powerful Jewish Lobby in Florida. No Republican should ever side with a minority group against free speech [DeSantis Opens The Door To Hate Speech Laws, by Scott Greer, Highly Respected, April 27, 2023].

No one can deny DeSantis his achievements or that his campaign message hit many of the right notes. But caveat emptor is the order of the day. DeSantis is most likely campaigning on immigration patriotism because he knows it appeals to voters, not out of genuine conviction. The governor is a politician. Unlike other Republicans, he has a much better grasp of what voters care about. Of course, it’s a good sign that standard Republicans are adopting America First policies, for it portends the party’s future. But someone as political as DeSantis might abandon those positions if the political winds change. DeSantis has already shown he will suppress free speech and not enforce immigration law if influential lobbies tell him to do so. That should give immigration patriots pause about a possible DeSantis presidency.

DeSantis faces an uphill battle in the Republican primary. Trump is the dominant frontrunner, and the Florida governor faces serious questions over his charisma and ability to connect with voters. He looks great on paper and says the right things, yet he may not be the man immigration patriots and the Historic American Nation need for 2024.

Washington Watcher II [Email him] is an anonymous DC insider.

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