This is going to confuse a lot of people, because I’m going to not draw a line in the electoral sand with this column or go all-in for one candidate in the Republican primary.
This might be tough for the hardcore Trump supporters, because most of them don’t understand that people can have nuanced opinions about him as a candidate.
I’m conflicted in this election because it revolves around the “electability” issue perhaps more than any in recent history. Conventional wisdom among many in conservative media goes something like this: Yeah, we loved what Trump did as president, but he’s electoral poison now and DeSantis will crush any Dem and actually drain the Swamp.
In other words, DeSantis is more electable.
For years I’ve railed against the electability argument, largely because it was used to advance squish Republicans who inevitably got their you-know-whats handed to them in an election. Historically, it’s not a great argument.
However, this election is so full of weirdness that relying on history isn’t going to be much help. In fact, the last two presidential elections have pretty much sent history packing as far has being any help in predicting anything. We’ve gone through more than one looking glass at this point.
I understand and agree with most of the arguments about Trump’s toxicity as far as being able to get Republican moderates and independents to vote for him next year. I know a great many people who believe that what’s being done to him by liberal prosecutors is unjust but are also weary of things like the fact that his campaign has largely been built around workshopping derogatory nicknames for his opponents on Truth Social.
While I too find present-day Trump wearisome, I still wouldn’t mind seeing him get a revenge tour in Washington. I also think that polls are garbage, so I’m not completely sold on all of the gloom and doom about Trump in the general. My real problem is that I don’t believe for a moment he’ll engage in any kind of Swamp-draining if he gets a second term. I get the impression that Trump 47 will just revel in a four-year long gloatfest.
I also think that giving any Trump alternative the “electable” tag is probably the kiss of death. That’s how strongly opposed I’ve been to that argument throughout my political life. It’s a conundrum.
DeSantis is no Romneyesque squish, to be sure, so that’s not a consideration here. However, something that I think many who are making the electability argument for DeSantis are overlooking is that, if he can become the nominee, the Democrats will still be awful. They may not have time for all of the legal persecution that they’re unleashing on Trump, but they’ll figure out new ways to be ruthless and untruthful, largely because they fear DeSantis even more.
Many of the same people who are put off by the drama surrounding Trump could very well be affected by whatever lies are being told about DeSantis.
Then there is the fact that a large number of hardcore Trump fans are on record as saying that they won’t vote for DeSantis if he’s the nominee, which I covered in a recent column of mine.
So, yeah, I’ve still got problems with hearing that a candidate is electable. The reasons for them may have changed a bit, but the hangup remains.
Especially that “kiss of death” thing.