For all the tumult of today, we as a nation are merely dithering around the edges of the most critical question of our times – do we stop or go?
Does America go down the path of cultural least resistance and allow our betters to do our thinking for us or do we stop the process while we still can, while at least the option of freedom is still on the table?
And this choice must be clear cut – the babbling biting of the last few years accomplishes little save to infuriate one side and employ the other. It doesn’t answer the question definitively.
That is why the 2024 presidential election must be an up or down choice, a column A or column B decision, chicken or fish, an in or out verdict, a clear conclusion to the feigned fear frenzy of the present.
That is why the race cannot be between Donald Trump and Joe Biden – it must be between the Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom, the poster boys of the divide.
The clarity of the choice – one way or another – is the best option to move beyond the morass.
But why not Trump and Biden? Surely they stand as apex exemplars of the progressive/conservative, the woke/libertarian, the public/personal, the comfortable cocoon of contrived consensus versus the perils of personal prerogatives?
Actually, they don’t.
As for Biden, he was never a hard left politician and, if he understood his current surroundings, he would not be today. Biden orbited around the standard DC left – more stuff for the poor, more stuff for campaign donors, more stuff for regulators to do, that sort of thing. Outside of his ambition to become president – he did run three times – there was never any inkling he could be bothered to care about “big think” issues, let alone contemplate radical change. Joe has always been in it for Joe, he has done what he’s told, he’s status quo – no matter what that may be – first, and has been driven by a personal financial bitterness that has enabled his family to wallow in the leavings of his career.
In other words, like in 2020, there are a lot of non-policy related things to like (one supposes) or dislike about the guy. While he in no way actually meant it, let alone did it, he ran on returning to “normal” after four high-octane years of Trump and, for some reason, many people still see him as his former self – a schlubby non-entity uncle who, even if screws up now and again, does so with a good heart.
None of this – his politics, his image, his history – makes him a “poster boy” for woke worldview; he could win or lose without ideology deciding the issue because – deep down – he has no ideology.
Nor is Trump a “poster boy.”
First, he’s a real estate developer which automatically makes him at least a fabulist. Second, his politics – until he ran for president – were all over the map and he saw government and politicians as things to be manipulated, cajoled, and threatened in order to get done what he wanted done. Whether or not a zoning board member was a free speech absolutist simply did not matter.
Second, he is chaotic. Trump’s two biggest failures as president occurred before his election – he thought that as President people would have to do as they were told and he was woefully unprepared for the details of the office. Hilary spent tens of millions of dollars vetting and “hiring” people for her administration during her campaign in order to be ready on day one, in part because she knew she couldn’t trust any Obama holdovers to do her bidding; Donald’s team – which for the most part seemed awfully surprised by his victory – did nothing of the sort and it doomed him from the start, playing terribly into his tendency to talk and work and decide on the fly.
Unlike Biden, Trump is sincere in his core beliefs but they do not define him as his is largely a transactional world.
Though they appear at some level to be, neither Trump nor Biden – who carry so much non-ideology baggage – make good human surrogates for the sharp decision that needs to be made in 2024.
Newsom and DeSantis do.
Newsom is fresh and facile, shiny and slippery, a jargon filled jolly jumper that oozes false promises in his quest for justification for personal power; in other words, he is the physical embodiment of woke.
DeSantis is quick and sharp, decisive and dedicated, showy and mean when needed, quiet and detailed oriented if called for; in other words, Newsom’s polar opposite.
A very simple comparison – Newsom touts California’s teen trans tourism, DeSantis re-opened Florida’s tourist industry.
Beyond the personal styles, the ideological differences could not be starker – California is where woke was born; Florida is where it goes to die.
Records will be compared – Florida and California (depending upon how much stock you put into the numbers maybe-ish) had roughly equivalent COVID case and fatality numbers. California was one of the last states to reopen and in fact still has an emergency order in effect; Florida was one of the first to re-open and is currently, unlike California, seeing a major population boom.
One telling fact about pandemic management – California lost about $33 billion to unemployment fraud, still owes the federal government about $19 billion in unemployment trust fund loans, and has decided to sharply increase the unemployment insurance taxes paid by businesses to pay off the feds. Florida lost $800 million to fraud, and not only did it not have to borrow a single dime from the feds during the pandemic, and its unemployment trust fund actually earned interest for the state.
Of course, there is the image issue. “Florida Man” is a drag on DeSantis, while the Golden State Halo of Futures Past surrounds Newsom, even though these stereotypes are beyond out-of-date.
It’s California with the crime problem; it’s California with the homelessness problem; it’s California with the filth problem; it’s California with the housing problem; it’s California with the massive deficit; it’s California people are leaving.
Of course that truth may not make it over the Sierras and Newsom starts 100 points ahead of DeSantis with the national media, but DeSantis has shown an ability to play to his strengths without, or in reasoned but fierce opposition to them.
And while Newsom will appeal to certain crossover segments of the population, DeSantis will (depending – a big depending – what happens in the next few months) will be able to do something Trump cannot – have Trump policies without a Trump personality.
It is simply untenable for the nation that the current state of affairs continue too much longer – tension without hope of resolution is a very grinding condition to be in and invades and distorts and minimizes ones vision of what can be achieved.
A Newsom/DeSantis contest would provide the clean break the nation needs.
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