People on the right are calling Joe Biden’s vicious “MAGA Republicans” speech “unpresidential” and “divisive” when in reality, it was simply desperate. That’s a new theme on the left that has become obvious on a comical level.
The national media have spent the last several weeks insisting that after enduring months of record inflation, unaffordable gas and electric bills, plus a completely avoidable war costing taxpayers billions (and counting), the country is now feeling a new sense of affection for Biden. I’m sure. Now they’re hyping up the Democrat line about some “extreme MAGA ideology” (what?) and “authoritarian leaders” who “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Those are all quotes that Biden slurred his way through last week in Philadelphia, but the sentiment was just as sweetly captured the previous day in a New York Times column by Thomas Edsall. But instead of targeting the unnamed yet ever-so-fearsome “MAGA Republicans,” Edsall and a round of scholars went after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a.k.a. God’s Chosen One.
“The fact that Ron DeSantis … is favored to win re-election is a clear warning to those worried about declining support for democratic institutions and values in the United States,” wrote Edsall.
A popular governor might be chosen by voters in his state for a second term. That certainly doesn’t sound like cause for worry. But maybe Edsall has a bigger point.
Should DeSantis win reelection, he wrote, it would indicate that voters in a major swing state “will tolerate, if not actively embrace, the abuse of traditional political norms by domineering leaders.” It’s unclear what Edsall meant by “abuse of traditional political norms,” but he noted that the governor “has made no secret of his intent to use executive authority to the fullest extent.”
If an elected official’s use of authority “to the fullest extent” is “the abuse of traditional political norms,” it would be interesting to know what Edsall makes of Biden unilaterally spreading hundreds of billions of dollars of student loan debt among taxpayers, including many who never went to college and many who had already paid off their own. It would be interesting to know what he makes of Biden’s failed attempt at coercing millions of workers to inject themselves with an experimental drug.
Those weren’t abuses of traditional political norms. Those were bold progressive actions!
Edsall went on to cite some of DeSantis’s more widely known achievements in office, including his crackdown on public schools that were teaching children that to be white is a problem; punitive measures he took against corporations that get tax breaks and then get mouthy about politics; and his removal of a state attorney general who openly said he would not adhere to a Supreme Court ruling.
It was “surprising” to Edsall that the productive governor hadn’t been the subject of a more focused political pushback from Florida Democrats. But he also admitted he knew why that was: “One answer is that his policies have substantial support.”
Ah, so it’s difficult to successfully take down an elected official who is actually supported by the people he represents, even if some of that support is begrudging. Who knew?!
This is where Edsall introduced his trusty gang of “experts” to make the case that despite DeSantis having broad appeal among the people who would have to hand him any higher office he has designs for — we call this an “election” — such a victory would mean certain doom for democracy.
Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, told Edsall that what would worry him about a “Trump Republican” like DeSantis in office is “the extreme politicization and abuse of federal government power, the targeting of political enemies and the mobilization and emboldening of the violent, well-armed, extremist fringe of Trump followers.”
UCLA law professor Richard Hansen was then allowed by Edsall to dream up a scenario where former president Trump runs for a second term and “fails to win legitimately but finds a route to being installed as president,” which, according to Hansen, would mean the United States “ceases to be a democracy.”
As to what sneaky, illegitimate “route” Trump, or anyone else, might take to being allowed into the White House while everyone sits on their thumbs is unclear. Hansen either didn’t say, or Edsall failed to include that part of his quote.
The piece went on like this at length, with various scholars and professors consulting their dream diaries about what a future second term for Trump or first term for DeSantis would mean.
—“Certain groups would be more vulnerable. These include historically marginalized groups, who might find new restrictions on voting. Or members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community who are treated as second-class citizens.”
—“One might imagine the [Republican Party] in power during unified government would seek to dramatically expand the number and size of the federal courts, then fill these new positions.”
—“There could also be soft or harder controls over the media. There would be tremendous uncertainty over what a postdemocracy period would look like in the United States.”
Edsall concluded his piece by asserting that whether DeSantis wins a second term as governor, it will be “a referendum on democracy, and the odds do not look good.”
That we got from Point A — DeSantis is an exceptionally skilled and popular policy executive — to Point B — DeSantis as president would turn America into an authoritarian hellscape — should leave everyone reading this with severe neck pain from straining to find the logic.
To call this talk “divisive” is to give it way too much credit. This is panicked. Democrats have surely spotted a threat, but not to our system of government. The threat is to them.