We exploited conservatives (Dexter Filkins) [original title: Can Ron DeSantis Displace Donald Trump as the G.O.P.’s Combatant-in-Chief?]

Creamu

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'[...]

For decades, the Democratic Party had commanded a majority of Florida’s registered voters. But the state was changing, as Trump’s election helped energize a shift in political affinities. The Republican Party’s rank and file became increasingly radical, and G.O.P. leaders appeared only too happy to follow them. “There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy,” Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff to Governor Bob Martinez, a moderate Republican, told me. “They had lots of different names—they were John Birchers, they were ‘movement conservatives,’ they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised—and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited.

“So what happened?” Stipanovich continued. “Trump opened Pandora’s box and let them out. And all the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics got a voice. What was thirty-five per cent of the Republican Party is now eighty-five per cent. And it’s too late to turn back.”

In April, 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, DeSantis travelled to the convention center in Miami Beach to appear with Dan Gelber, the city’s mayor, to discuss the state’s response. Gelber, a Democrat, is a former minority leader in the Florida House who teamed up to pass legislation with such Republican leaders as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio; he told me that he is still friendly with both. “I don’t agree with Jeb on a lot of things, but I have a deep and abiding respect for him,” he said.

Appearing with Gelber, DeSantis outlined the steps that his administration had taken. He had ordered a statewide lockdown. He’d ordered nursing homes sealed off and told the elderly to quarantine; at the time, many states, including New York, were still sending virus patients into nursing homes, which ended in thousands of deaths. Florida had established the first of hundreds of testing centers and set up a Web site that detailed the virus’s trajectory. Most notably, it had ordered millions of masks for health-care workers; DeSantis said that he was fighting to get more. “Having a mask on, I think, would be something that could potentially ward off infections for the most vulnerable,” he said. At numerous public appearances, the Governor wore a mask himself.

DeSantis regarded these efforts as a kind of baseline. “If some folks want to do things more, then they can do more in certain situations,” he said. “We want to work with the local folks.” Under Gelber’s leadership, Miami Beach, a destination for visitors from abroad, had imposed a mask mandate and aggressively ticketed violators. Gelber told me that he urged DeSantis to establish a robust program of contact-tracing. “The Governor was supportive of everything we were doing,” he said.

But DeSantis soon seemed to lose faith in the scientific establishment. Early in the pandemic, Scott Rivkees, the state surgeon general, convened a conference call of many of Florida’s leading public-health experts; at the end of the meeting, he announced that it would be the last. Among those boxed out was Glenn Morris, an epidemiologist whom the University of Florida had recruited in 2007 to set up a center that would help guide the state though the next pandemic. “We spent years preparing for this moment,” Morris told me.

[...]

Last January, a Jewish student was beaten up at a neo-Nazi rally outside Orlando; the next day, a group of men on a nearby overpass waved a swastika flag and placards with anti-Semitic slogans. Officials from around the state issued condemnations. DeSantis’s response came from his press secretary, Christina Pushaw, who suggested that the incidents might have been faked. “Do we even know they’re Nazis?” she mused on Twitter.

After days of criticism from Democrats, DeSantis arrived at a press conference near Palm Beach; he was there to talk about the Everglades, but he took the opportunity to counterattack. “I’m not going to have people try to smear me that belong to a political party that has elevated anti-Semites to the halls of Congress, like Ilhan Omar,” he said.

For DeSantis, the moment exemplified a theatrical governing style, which involved subverting a venerable American political ritual: an elected official says something offensive, or fails to condemn something offensive, which triggers waves of performative indignation in the press—until the politician offers an apology. DeSantis instead turned moments like the one with the Nazis to his advantage; the more he defied tradition, the more it thrilled his supporters. On Twitter, one of them suggested, implausibly, that DeSantis’s critics were as bad as the anti-Semites on the bridge: “How about all cnts calling people racist, and essentially nazis for disagreeing with them? Desantis is probably the next president. Deal with it.”

As DeSantis prepared to run for reëlection, he introduced a series of legislative measures that seemed calculated to spark similar fights, and to inspire fevered discussion outside of Florida. Many rested on flimsy legal grounds. One bill banned “sanctuary cities,” in which local governments refuse to coöperate with federal officials to deport undocumented immigrants; Florida has no such cities. Another bill created a police force dedicated to preventing election fraud; almost no fraud has been proved in recent Florida elections. DeSantis also dispatched a battalion of state law-enforcement officers to Texas to help stop illegal immigration, even though the nearest portion of the Mexican border is nearly nine hundred miles away. (As DeSantis saw off the troops, Fox covered the moment live.)

Some of these actions appeared brazenly partisan. In 2020, following a summer of protests over the killing of George Floyd, DeSantis proposed an “anti-rioting” law that would make it a crime to block traffic during even a peaceful protest. “When they start to do that, there needs to be swift penalties,” he said. (In Florida, the George Floyd protests had been almost entirely peaceful.) The Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill, but that September a federal judge declared it unconstitutional, saying that its definition of “riot” was so vague as to be open to partisan enforcement.

If DeSantis’s legislative strategy was polarizing, that seemed to be the point. When attacked, he gave no quarter; he went after reporters aggressively, sometimes inaccurately, often in person. Unlike Trump, he spoke in clear, complete sentences, which made him harder to dismiss. His principal partner was his press secretary, Christina Pushaw. From early morning until late at night, seven days a week, Pushaw took to Twitter to trash anyone who presented the slightest critique of her boss. In February, immigration activists likened people trying to cross the Mexican border to the Cubans who fled Castro’s dictatorship in the nineteen-sixties. DeSantis declared the comparison “disgusting”—a sop to Miami’s influential Cuban community. When Thomas Wenski, the Catholic Archbishop of Miami, argued that “no child should be deemed disgusting, especially by a public servant,” Pushaw responded by posting a photo of Wenski over the caption “Lying is a sin.”

Pushaw, thirty-one, previously worked at Stand Together, a nonprofit organization backed by the Koch brothers, and spent time in the former Soviet Union, where she claimed to have witnessed the failures of socialism. Pushaw says that her job is “debunking false narratives,” which often entails describing DeSantis’s opponents as pedophiles or socialists, and urging supporters to “drag them.” Her ferocity inspires cautious admiration. “She is the most powerful woman in Florida,” a consultant to several Republican candidates told me. “Ron loves her, because she says things that even he won’t say.”

Disdaining the “corporate media,” DeSantis and Pushaw often bristled under questioning. In March, 2021, when the Herald reported that some of the first vaccines in the state had gone to residents of wealthy enclaves where DeSantis donors lived, the Governor denounced the story as “a really, really poorly executed hit piece.”

[...]


This past May, DeSantis scheduled a ceremony to sign a bill that, in the name of ballot security, would restrict access to the polls. “Fox and Friends” was granted exclusive access; all other outlets, including the Herald and the Tampa Bay Times, were excluded. Fox ran the ceremony live for seven and a half minutes.

[...]

Earlier this year, DeSantis broke with tradition to take control of legislative redistricting. For decades, after each new census, the Florida legislature has redrawn voting districts. The process usually involved a protracted political struggle, but when the legislature—Republican or Democratic—presented its plan to the governor, it was typically approved.
Three people dressed strangely

In March, DeSantis rejected the new map and proposed his own. The legislature’s plan had created a new district that seemed likely to be won by a Republican, but DeSantis felt that it was not ambitious enough. His redrawn map eliminated two of four congressional seats held by African Americans and created four districts that seemed likely to turn white and Republican. DeSantis justified the changes by saying that he was eliminating illegal “racial gerrymandering.”

[...]'

-Dexter Filkins

AVT_Dexter-Filkins_3104.jpg


https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/...e-donald-trump-as-the-gops-combatant-in-chief
 

Jayro

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What do you think will this achieve?
Upholding our democracy, Americans will be able to mentally heal after Trump's 4 years of abuse and mental gymnastics, and it will send a message to the world that we don't tolerate Trump's type of reckless and absurd behavior. He's really deranged, self-absorbed, and always looking for a grift. We don't need this type of person living among us, let-alone leading the country.
 

Creamu

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Upholding our democracy, Americans will be able to mentally heal after Trump's 4 years of abuse and mental gymnastics, and it will send a message to the world that we don't tolerate Trump's type of reckless and absurd behavior. He's really deranged, self-absorbed,
You think people in america will mentally heal when Trump is in prison?
and always looking for a grift.
Very true.
We don't need this type of person living among us, let-alone leading the country.
Also true, but at this point I don't think salvaging what's there is not plausible. What is you view on the 5 coming years from a more optimistic as well as from a more pessimistic viewpoint?
 

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You think people in america will mentally heal when Trump is in prison?

Also true, but at this point I don't think salvaging what's there is not plausible. What is you view on the 5 coming years from a more optimistic as well as from a more pessimistic viewpoint?
Yes, absolutely.

I don't think in a pessimistic viewpoint, so I couldn't tell you, but as long as we keep voting blue, we can keep moving America forward. Because if we're not making progress as a nation, we're either standing still or moving backwards.
 

Xzi

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You think people in america will mentally heal when Trump is in prison?
It'll take a while for his supporters' lunacy to subside, as many have they've based their entire personality around him and even lost friends/family over it, but yes. In hindsight they'll eventually realize he was just a much shittier Nixon. The ones who don't snap and resort to domestic terrorism, anyway, but that's something we already have to deal with from the alt-reich crowd on a regular basis.
 

Creamu

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Yes, absolutely.
I'd love to see it. If Trump gets in prision we will get to see what happens.
I don't think in a pessimistic viewpoint, so I couldn't tell you, but as long as we keep voting blue, we can keep moving America forward.
I think you are correct. Conservatives move things nowhere.
Because if we're not making progress as a nation, we're either standing still or moving backwards.
I agree.
 
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Creamu

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It'll take a while for his supporters' lunacy to subside, as many have they've based their entire personality around him and even lost friends/family over it, but yes. In hindsight they'll eventually realize he was just a much shittier Nixon. The ones who don't snap and resort to domestic terrorism, anyway, but that's something we already have to deal with from the alt-reich crowd on a regular basis.
Well, that sounds promising. If Trump gets in prison I hope to see what you are anticipating.

I had a though. Thinking that the mental health of others will improve by putting someone else in prison is in weird way a very christian thought-process.
 

Xzi

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I had a though. Thinking that the mental health of others will improve by putting someone else in prison is in weird way a very christian thought-process.
You'd have to elaborate. It'd be much preferable if the US had sufficient resources to treat mental health issues on the individual level, of course, but we have to keep spending that money on bombs and corporate welfare. So I'll take locking up hateful cult leaders as an easy alternative in the meantime.
 

Creamu

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You'd have to elaborate.
Mentally ill people in time of christian rule would be often regarded as sinners. Christians have alot of disagreements, but they seem to have consensus that Jesus died for their sins. In times of christian rule it was more common to just execute people than put them into prison. So it may be a thought that is deeply christian to think that Trumps imprisonment will mentally heal others. From my viewpoint the idea that putting anyone to prison will improve the mental health of others is quite a claim.
It'd be much preferable if the US had sufficient resources to treat mental health issues on the individual level, of course, but we have to keep spending that money on bombs and corporate welfare.
We have institutions for mental health concerns but histroically speaking in doesn't seem like the world is getting more sane, so I would put the whole apparatus in question.
So I'll take locking up hateful cult leaders as an easy alternative in the meantime.
You know, fair enough. At least it is a move that takes some balls to do.
 

Xzi

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Mentally ill people in time of christian rule would be often regarded as sinners.
We aren't talking about imprisoning Trump because he's mentally ill, though, we're talking about imprisoning him because he's committed multiple federal crimes. I sure would love it if he went for the insanity defense during the trial though, might make a few people re-think their loyalty to him.

From my viewpoint the idea that putting anyone to prison will improve the mental health of others is quite a claim.
It'll help improve their mental health even more when he's dead and buried, but putting him in prison will just speed the process of him being forgotten about. We'd have roughly a year of MAGAts lashing out violently in response to it, but then things would calm down.

We have institutions for mental concerns but histroically speaking in doesn't seem like the world is getting more sane, so I would put the whole apparatus in question.
We really don't, only like one in four people seeking therapy in the US can actually find it.
 

Creamu

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It'll help improve their mental health even more when he's dead and buried, but putting him in prison will just speed the process of him being forgotten about. We'd have roughly a year of MAGAts lashing out violently in response to it, but then things would calm down.
So Trump is kind of a Jesus Christ type of figure.
 

lokomelo

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So Trump is kind of a Jesus Christ type of figure.
Trump is not a carpenter preaching on Palestine and being hunted by the Roman Empire. He is just an orange fat old dude that is filled with hate and served as a banner for many other people filled with hate.

If he ever gets arrested, it will not change the hate in the american society (and western society in general) in any degree.
 
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Creamu

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Trump is not a carpenter preaching on Palestine and being hunted by the Roman Empire.
He is being hunted by the Pharisees. Jesus being a carpenter is symbolic of being an influencer of the sheeple (former of wood).
He is just an orange fat old dude
Jesus was just a wimp.
that is filled with hate and served as a banner for many other people filled with hate.
Do you remember when Jesus whipped the pharisees out of the temple. That was quite hateful.
If he ever gets arrested, it will not change the hate in the american society (and western society in general) in any degree.
That may be but others made the argument that it would heal mental health issues of others.
 

Xzi

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He invokes the bible but believes in and follows none of its teachings. The Anti-Christ is often described as "the lawless one," which sounds pretty familiar. 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 basically describes an extreme narcissist, which also sounds familiar. "He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God." He's leading people astray from the actual teachings of Christ, which is covered by Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22. The Anti-Christ is described as a deceiver and a liar, check and check.

The only other figure in the bible he shares anything in common with would be the golden calf, though that never spoke and Trump never shuts the fuck up...so yeah.
 
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