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OPINION

Trump Doesn't Get It — DeSantis Does

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Night before Election Day 2016, I wrote "What I Like About Trump, and Why You need to Vote for Him." I mentioned that he was the street brawler we needed, not the professional we wanted, who would clean house, not just keep house. He did an estimable job. But, unfortunately, the 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is a brazen usurper. 

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If Trump wants the 2024 nomination, though, he must learn from Odysseus in Homer's eponymous epic poem. Sure, the suitors took him for dead and took over his home. Odysseus was the rightful king of the castle, but he had to fight for it. Instead of staging an epic comeback, Trump has turned into a cantankerous deposed monarch who thinks we should restore him to the throne. That's not how politics works. Andrew Jackson was denied the Presidency in 1824 due to a Corrupt Bargain in the House of Representatives. Old Hickory didn't pout but plotted, planned, and won the Presidency in 1828.  

Trump needs a primary. I want a knock-down drag-out fight for the GOP brass ring. And right now, Trump is not earning it. Instead, he reminds me of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie past his first-term prime: lots of bluster, no muster. 

Trump still surrounds himself with bad people. They told him to endorse Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) in a fraught primary when the opponent was the real deal. Gonzales is now talking up open borders and voted against the House Rules package effected by the dedicated MAGA populists in Congress. 

Trump lined up behind McCarthy for Speaker and expected everyone to follow. The next generation of America First politicians knows you never settle but fight for more. Trump inaugurated a movement, but now the movement is moving past him. Nothing showed this more than conservative Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Montana) dismissing the former President's plea by phone on the floor of the House. Conversely, Trump refused to weigh in on the RNC Chairmanship, the more consequential race. DeSantis did, even if his candidate lost. Leadership means fighting for what's right, even if the outcome is likely lost. 

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Trump tells South Carolina: "Let's go after the Deep State, the Democrats, and the RINOs." And standing next to him during that rant? Lindsey Graham, the biggest Deep State Democrat RINO in the country. Former Governor Sarah Palin tells DeSantis to "wait your turn." It sounds like McCain-Establishment Kool-Aid talk to me. Oh Yeah! She abandoned her governorship, couldn't get elected to Congress, but wants to play king-maker? Hit the road, Mammy Grizzly. 

Politics is not the Art of the Deal; it's the Art of "I Win, and You Lose." Trump still doesn't get this, either. DeSantis does. DeSantis has accomplished the most aggressive, radically right-wing agenda of any governor: a pro-growth, low-tax agenda and bear-hugging culture wars. He has beaten down Big Business, Big Pharma, Big Labor, and Big Academia. As a result, the little guy in Florida feels like "The Man," and they have DeSantis' leadership to thank for that. 

He outlawed sanctuary cities with more vigorous enforcement. He signed into law E-Verify mandates. He has taken on the Florida teacher's unions with gusto, pushing for more limits on their political power. He has been pressing for gun freedoms in a state gun-shy on the Second Amendment for the last twenty years. His Parents Rights in Education Bill has inspired similar reforms across the country. DeSantis is a conservative, and even Democratic voters support him!  

His election reforms are impeccable, too. Trump tweeted and whined about voter fraud during Election 2020. As soon as he was elected, DeSantis removed the corrupt Registrar of Voters in Palm Beach County, then cleaned up the election laws. Despite banning ballot trafficking and universal mass mail-in voting, DeSantis wisely recognizes that if "legal cheating" exists in your state, USE IT. Only recently has Trump joined this bandwagon. Trump is playing catch-up, while DeSantis has already caught on. 

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Politics requires a keen sense of what works, what's possible, and knowing what is going on. At this point, one wonders if Trump is paying attention. It's 2023, not 2015. Riding an escalator doesn't impress anymore. I want results, and DeSantis is outdoing Trump on many fronts.  

Trump still pushes the vaccine. DeSantis has said, "Stop!" Trump locked down the country, but DeSantis reversed course within two weeks, and Florida enjoyed unprecedented freedom with little COVID-19 backlash. Leadership changes when things aren't working and learns from circumstances. DeSantis has led on stopping the sex mutilation of minors and LGBT indoctrination, too, and opposed the DIS-Respect for Marriage Act. Trump went all in on this anti-family folly, then celebrated with the Log Cabin Republicans at Mar-a-Lago, rebuffing the evangelical voters who got him elected. 

President Trump has become all talk, selling NFTs. DeSantis is walking the walk, guaranteed. He is smarter with the media, too. Trump slugged at the media but then got dirty with them. DeSantis sets up press conferences with supporters. He silences biased reporters with quick quips while humiliating Joe Biden. DeSantis doesn't rush to corporate media's camera for attention. He rolls them, then steamrolls them. 

From Congress to the Governor's mansion, DeSantis has been on a mission to accomplish. Today's populist Republican party grassroots are tired of politicians who want us to feel good; no more RINOs who say the right things on Fox News, then screw us over with betrayals and broken promises. DeSantis promises and keeps delivering. We need a president who wins, not just retains what little remains once Biden is gone. 

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Trump was a street brawler, but DeSantis is a UFC fighter: sleeker, less flashy, but executes the win quicker, faster, and more robust. We need results, not rhetoric. I don't want rallies; I want to win elections and the culture war. I am not interested in the establishment (and yes, Trump is turning into their latest successor). DeSantis looks like the man to be President and the man to beat. 

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