by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Vanity Fair reports on the great scandal of our time:
“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s oblique reference to Donald Trump supporters as ‘listless vessels’ has roiled the GOP primary, prompting demands for an apology from Trump surrogates and escalating a growing feud with biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy, who has been gaining ground on DeSantis in recent weeks.” …
… Okay, but why has it prompted a “demand for an apology”? Everything DeSantis says here is right. More to the point: there really should be nobody in America who heard what DeSantis had to say here and thought, “well, how dare you?” DeSantis said that, in American politics, “a movement can’t be about the personality of one individual.” This is true. DeSantis said that “if all we are is listless vessels that’s just supposed to follow, you know, whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that’s not going to be a durable movement.” That is also true — as is the underlying suggestion that the Donald Trump-led Republican Party has not, in fact, proven durable. DeSantis didn’t call anyone a moocher or a loser or a traitor. He didn’t call anyone “deplorable.” He made a case against the continuation of a cult of personality. Frankly, if you learned of these words and were outraged by them, you’re telling on yourself.
Judging by the discussion of DeSantis’s comments online, I sense that I’m expected to happily accept the preposterous double-standard that undergirds all Trump outrage cycles, and thereby to agree to the idea that Donald Trump is allowed to say whatever he wants about anyone with impunity, but that if anyone says anything back, it’s shocking. Relatedly, I sense also that I’m supposed to consent to the preposterous notion that Donald Trump is in some way inextricable from “real Americans,” and that to criticize him — or, indeed, to run against him in a primary in anything other than a wholly sycophantic manner — is necessarily to damn the entire Republican electorate.