It’s the most anticipated heavyweight bout since Ali vs. Frazier. Donald Trump officially announced this week that he’s running for president in 2024, and it’s well-known that he only has one serious competitor for the GOP nomination: Florida governor Ron DeSantis (even though DeSantis hasn’t announced his run yet).
This puts conservatives in a quandary: Trump or DeSantis? The former president who brought down Roe, or the governor who faced down the Covid Regime? The man who promised to make American great again, or the one who made Florida a great place to live?
Except to the most extreme partisans, it’s not an easy choice. Trump, after all, is the man most responsible for the fall of Roe v Wade. That is a gigantic mark in his favor that should never be forgotton. He also is the person responsible for breaking the useless establishment neocon cabal controlling the GOP (although it is trying to make a comeback). And, perhaps most tellingly, he’s the man deeply hated by all the worst people. Every enemy of conservatives considers Trump their primary enemy, and that is revealing.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
DeSantis too has formidable credentials. More than any politician in the Western world, he’s the face of resistance to the inhuman and oppressive Covid regime. After briefly going along with the insanity, he quickly pivoted and fought relentlessly against the lockdowns, the mandates, and the overall totalitarianism pushed in the name of “science.” He also has been a leading fighter against the rise of wokeism, another totalitarian movement that wants to corrupt our kids and cancel any opposition.
Both candidates have their weak spots as well. Trump was not good when it came to the Covid response—he listened to Fauci far too long, pushed an experimental vaccine on the populace, and supported lockdowns even after it was clear they didn’t work. He also has Mt. Everest-sized baggage. While many of his supporters rightly point out how most of that is unfair or even based on lies, conservative voters have to decide if it makes him unelectable. The poor results for Trump-backed candidates in the recent mid-terms is not promising on that account.
DeSantis, on the other hand, as the weakness of all preliminary candidates—he’s untested on the national stage. There have been many Republican governor golden boys in the past who petered out when it came time to run for president (Scott Walker, anyone?). While DeSantis has that golden shine right now, only time on the national scene will reveal if it’s just surface deep. His views on many important topics are relatively unknown at this point. How would he handle the Russia-Ukraine situation, for example? What would he do about inflation? It’s easy to be popular when you’re only known for one or two things; the difficulty is maintaining that popularity after people really get to know you.
So who should conservatives coalesce behind? Trump or DeSantis? DeSantis or Trump?
I think the right answer, at least for now, is to punt on the issue. The Republican primaries aren’t for another 14 months, so there’s no need to rush to a decision. Heck, it’s even possible that a dark horse candidate will emerge. Let the candidates make their cases— and confront each other face-to-face. If DeSantis can survive what will surely be a brutal, scorched-earth opposition campaign from Trump, then perhaps he will be the conservative choice. But if DeSantis withers in the spotlight, then Trump likely will be the GOP nominee for president for the third time. Either way, the road to the Republican nomination will be more lively and more entertaining than it has been in a long time.