Friday, December 16, 2022

Conservative Id

Jonathan Last of The Bulwark writes

Remember the Stop WOKE Act? It was DeSantis’s big anti-CRT-in-schools legislation. (This was back when CRT was the most important issue facing the republic.) It was stopped by the courts because it is flatly and obviously unconstitutional.

Remember when DeSantis punished Disney for opposing his Don’t Say Gay law by revoking the company’s Reedy Creek special tax district? Yeah, that’s going by the wayside because it wasn’t thought out and would wind up costing Florida taxpayers money. The face-saving climbdown spin seems to be that DeSantis is reconsidering because Disney has changed CEOs and it was the old CEO whom he wanted to punish.1

And how about DeSantis’s mass “voter fraud” arrests, which managed to round up a bunch of people who don’t look like they live in the Villages on trumped-up voter-fraud charges? Yeah, those cases are falling apart in court because they had no basis in law.

Oh—and don’t forget the DeSantis promise to ship immigrants out of Florida after his stunt sending asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard blew up in his face.

This is what he does. And his anti-vaccine programs are no different.

No vaccine maker will be prosecuted in Florida.

There will be no peer-reviewed research showing that the risks of vaccine side effects were greater than the benefits.

A “Public Health Integrity Committee” will not interfere with the practice of medicine in Florida.

And that’s by design.

The great blogger, Steve M., disagrees, remarking

I'm afraid that the main thrust of Last's argument -- that, in the end, none of these bad policies stick, and that DeSantis doesn't really want them to, because he's just trying to win over right-wing voters and isn't really an extremist -- will become the conventional wisdom in the mainstream media. This would be part of the process whereby the media sells DeSantis as the mainstream, moderate, within-the-pale alternative to Donald Trump.

There is anecdotal evidence that one of these DeSantis policies, voter suppression, worked as

Voting rights advocates and others say the arrests discouraged the tens of thousands of potentially eligible voters with felony records to not take part in midterm elections.

“We know that registered voters with prior convictions and even people who are fully eligible to vote such as people who only have a misdemeanor are concerned or even scared about getting in trouble if they cast their ballots,” said Amy Keith, program director of Common Cause Florida.

Although his landslide victory persuaded many GOP voters- temporarily, I believe- to think that a DeSantis presidential nomination may be just the ticket to vanquish the Democratic Party, DeSantis would have won, anyway.. And I think that he has neither the seemingly pleasant personality of some so-called "moderate" Republicans nor the charisma of Donald Trump to convince the media that he is a throwback to the good old days of the Reagan/Bush/Ryan era GOP in which everyone, of whatever race or sexual preference, is valuable as long as wealthy.

The Florida governor probably is an extremist who opposes the teaching of inconvenient historical facts, recognizes the value of refugees and illegal immigrants to the business community, and wants to deny the vote to hardcore Democrats while limiting pandemic restrictions and the rights of gay individuals.

But as Last suggests, that's not why DeSantis does as he does.  Even Steve M maintains "I don't believe DeSantis is playing eleven-dimensional chess in the way Last describes. I think DeSantis simply doesn't care what happens to people as a result of his actions, as long as the libs are owned and his poll numbers rise."

It may not be eleven-dimensional chess because conservatives are not given to nuance or deep deliberation. However, it is apiece of a clever strategy.  Prior to the election, Republicans ranted and raved about inflation, especially gas prices, and crime.  Hysteria about inflation has declined precipitously, and not only because  the rise in cost of living has abated. Talk of crime has virtually disappeared from public discourse.

Collectively, GOP voters suffer from something akin to political Adult ADHD.  They get hot-and=bothered about a couple of issues, then lose interest and go on to another topic. It's the flavor of the day which matters to Republicans in the street.   It can be inflation, crime, race, voting fraud or non-existent "lockdowns," but the interest will be relatively fleeting.

Performative politics is popular among voters generally, whether Republican, Democratic, or unaffiliated.  Nonetheless, the particular attraction among Republicans for the ephemeral, something to be exorcised about for the moment, is an underappreciated phenomenon.

No doubt Governor DeSantis understands this, as does Donald Trump.  It may not be "by design" that the policies will fail or be annulled. However, their value to DeSantis goes far beyond any efficacy they may accidentally exhibit. While insufficient to propel him to a presidential nomination, it does demonstrate Ron DeSantis' recognition of the value of performative politics in Republican presidential campaigns.


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