Tuesday, January 24, 2023


Jamelle Bouie thinks he understands why Ron DeSantis spends so much time fighting the culture wars.
Here’s a question: What does Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida think about Medicare? Medicaid? Social Security? The Affordable Care Act?
Bouie the recounts the many culture battles DeSantis has been fighting. Then he writes:
... there is a reason that DeSantis has made these issues, and virtually nothing else, the platform from which he hopes to build national power.... DeSantis has made himself the hero of conservative elites and the bête noire of liberals and Democrats without so much as mentioning his radical and unpopular views on social insurance and the welfare state.
Bouie is referring to the views on government social programs DeSantis expressed when he was a congressman and member of the House Freedom Caucus.
He helped lead the effort to shut down the government over funding for the Affordable Care Act in 2013 and, that same year voted to pass a budget resolution that would have cut more than $250 billion from Social Security and Medicare over a decade. In 2017, like most other Republicans, he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to cut taxes on corporations, high-earners and wealthy heirs.
My first reaction to reading this was: Good point, Jamelle. Now do every other member of the GOP. It's mainstream Republicanism to want to transfer vast amounts of money from ordinary people to the rich; Republicans routinely distract voters from their plutocratic policies by talking about the culture wars.

But DeSantis is better at it. When you think about him, culture wars are probably all you think about.

If you're a right-wing voter, you probably feel that DeSantis takes you out of the realm of the mundane and into the realm of the transcendent. Rank-and-file right-wingers are persuaded that the fights DeSantis talks about are the existential battles of our lifetime, with civilization hanging in the balance. Fighting these battles vicariously through him -- like fighting Mexican immigrants vicariously through Trump -- feels thrilling and ennobling. It's a videogame. It's a superhero movie. It's what they probably imagine fighting in World War II must have felt like to their fathers and grandfathers.

Mike Pompeo and Nikk Haley will never make right-wing voters feel this way. That's why it's a two-candidate race.

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