So far this year, DeSantis has launched campaigns against Florida’s LGBTQ community and perpetuated the made-up issue that children learn critical race theory in schools. Aided by a rubber stamp state legislature, DeSantis pushed through laws that limit how race, gender identity and sexual orientation are discussed in schools. These trouble-seeking policies are central to the current version of the GOP’s culture war and may signal what’s to come in the 2024 election and beyond. While Trump’s election in 2016 was once considered a fluke, today DeSantis seems to be proving the Trump way is the norm. The money poured into the Florida governor’s political operation, as well as the echoes of other Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz, prove this point. And if Trump’s political style is now entrenched in the GOP, he poses a greater threat to democracy than any single man ever did. Style — think of JFK’s glamor or Reagan’s optimism — has long been a hallmark of American politics, but with Trumpism came exaggeration, defiance and intimidation that eclipsed any real substance. In November, DeSantis presented his take on Trump’s playbook as he opposed Covid-19 vaccine mandates in what he called “the toughest legislation that has been enacted anywhere in the country to this regard”. Then in March, he publicly berated students for wearing face masks ahead of a press conference, defying science by saying, “Please take them off. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. We need to stop with this. Covid theatre.”
Another example of the Florida governor’s next-generation Trumpism came when he identified specific groups that could be seen as enemies of the people. While Trump targeted journalists and immigrants, for example, DeSantis went after LGBTQ Americans.
The state even revoked Disney’s special tax status after the company’s CEO criticized the ‘don’t say gay’ bill that bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. kindergarten through third grade. DeSantis also relied on proven fear campaigns among parents, citing “pernicious ideologies” in schools and saying, “We believe in education, not indoctrination” when it comes to discussions about the race and racism in the classroom. The state has gone so far as to reject dozens of math textbook submissions, citing reasons including references to critical race theory and “the unsolicited addition of social-emotional learning to math.” Schools, which are an obvious point of contact for parents, have become a priority for many Republicans, especially during the pandemic, which has prompted school closures and safety measures. DeSantis has taken up the “parents’ rights” banner that has galvanized conservatives across the country, many of whom have joined activist groups including Moms for Liberty, which has helped engage “women in their 20s and 30s in the Republican Party,” according to Florida’s GOP Vice Chairman. Not to be outdone, Cruz made headlines this week by suggesting that Disney could include programming that shows “Mickey and Pluto get it on “. The distortion of the company as a dark force trying to corrupt children shows that Republicans are happy to say just about anything to stoke fear and get attention. By aping a man he Once considered a ‘whiny coward,’ Cruz demonstrated a cowardly reversal from Trump critic to copycat.He’s not alone.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had considered advising Trump to resign in the days that followed i the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol — a move he tried to deny last week before the New York Times published audio recordings proving otherwise. Weeks after telling Republicans, “I’m sick of this guy,” McCarthy visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in an apparent attempt to strengthen his ties with the former president. Of course, Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from him might be his most lasting legacy. More than two years after they began spouting lies about widespread voter fraud, Michigan’s candidates for attorney general and secretary of state have centered their campaigns on the big lie. They’re not alone – Republican candidates have taken up the lie in an attempt to win Trump’s endorsement and the support of his supporters. According to the political website fivethirtyeight, 70% of those who won Trump’s support said they agreed with his bogus anti-democratic claim that the 2020 election was rigged. And DeSantis was at the forefront again this week, signing into law a voting overhaul bill that establishes a new election police force to focus on voter fraud — an extremely rare issue.
With DeSantis in the lead, Trumpism 2.0 has its foot soldiers and candidates at every level of American politics. Across the country, GOP candidates are following his lead. With one of the country’s two major parties seemingly captured by this authoritarian-style movement, the chilling elements of what Trump unleashed may be with us long after the man himself has stopped running for office. .
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