Wednesday, May 31, 2023


Do you have any idea what Ron DeSantis likes to do for fun? We know he was a high school baseball player. Does he still enjoy playing the sport? Does he play softball, like a lot of other people in their mid-forties? Does he follow Major League Baseball? What's his favorite team? And we know he met his wife at a driving range. Does he still play golf? Do he and his wife ever golf together? If not, what do they do for fun?

Having said that, I'll quote Frank Wilhoit's well-known words about conservatism:
Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.
As I watch DeSantis battling Trump, I keep thinking about the word "bind" in a sense that has nothing to do with the law. I know that Republican voters like DeSantis's war on liberalism, which is why he's well ahead of Trump's other challengers in the polls, but there's something binding -- constricting -- about his version of conservatism. He uses the word "freedom" a lot in reference to Florida under his rule -- to Desantis, the state is “a citadel of freedom,” “freedom’s linchpin” and “freedom’s vanguard” -- but it never seems to be the kind of freedom that anyone would actually enjoy.

Trump rallies are parties. Trump dances to a mixtape of his favorite tunes. (Does DeSantis have any favorite tunes?) Attendees are encouraged to laugh at (and imagine hurting) liberals, journalists, and any Republicans who questions Trump's brilliance. When Trump fans weren't rallying in 2020, they were organizing boat parades and highway caravans (including one that dangerously harassed a Biden bus). There are Trump memes and merchandise items that aren't funny to the rest of us but are hilarious to his fans.

There's nothing like this in DeSantis World. Votes outside Florida must be thinking, on an unconscious level, If Florida is so free, why doesn't that freedom include ample opportunities to have fun at our enemies' expense?

Even a new Trump proposal that sounds like Stephen Miller channeling Joseph Goebbels seems as if it would be somewhat fun, on a kitschy level:
Donald Trump’s latest idea to enshrine American greatness is to throw the country “the most spectacular” birthday bash — one that will last all year.

In 2026, the U.S. will celebrate the semiquincentennial: the quarter millennial since its declaration of independence. To commemorate the anniversary, Trump is proposing a blowout, 12-month-long “Salute to America 250” celebration. In a new policy video, Trump calls for a “Great American State Fair,” featuring pavilions from all 50 states, nationwide high school sporting contests, and the building of Trump’s “National Garden of American Heroes” with statues of important figures in American history like Frederick Douglass and Amelia Earhart.

... Trump is proposing the creation of a task force on Day One of his presidency to work with state and local governments “to ensure not just one day of celebration, but an entire year of festivities across the nation starting on Memorial Day 2025 and continuing through July 4th, 2026.”
Shamelessly, Trump proposes that the national state fair be held in ... Iowa.
Trump suggests the event “could be” held at the Iowa state fairgrounds, a conspicuous suggestion that seems designed to appeal to voters in the first caucus state....

“My hope is that the amazing people of Iowa will work with my administration to open up the legendary Iowa state fairgrounds to host the Great American State Fair and welcome millions and millions of visitors from around the world to the heartland of America for this special one-time festival,” Trump said. “Together we will build it, and they will come.”
Will this actually happen if Trump is elected? Probably not. In all likelihood, he'll forget all about it. But even if this does sound more than a little fashy, it would at least be someone's idea of fun. (And I'm not rulung out that it could actually be enjoyable -- I've been to the Minnesota state fair and I had a pretty good time admiring butter sculptures and eating bizarre fried foods.) DeSantis doesn't embrace any kind of fun -- not even gun fun or country-music fun or Florida Man fun. No wonder he's losing.

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