The Appeal of Ron DeSantis
A fundraising email worth thinking about.
Like many of you, my junk mail folder is groaning under the weight of emails from hat-in-hand politicians. Most of these emails consist of a rat-a-tat-tat of one-sentence paragraphs screaming in bold text. Most try to gin up urgency: “You MUST contribute by sundown; otherwise, crazy, tax-and-spend Nancy will retain control of Congress.” If not crazy Nancy, then it’s the RINOs I need to fear. Pelosi and RINOs are the Republicans’ favorite stalking horses. Often the emails describe the candidate as being up against the wall: “My opponent outspent me 3-1 last month” so “I need your money right away.” Some of the emails are petulant, even whiney. “I have sent you 4 texts. Why haven’t I heard from you?”
Recently, I received a fundraising email from Governor Ron DeSantis that was different from the others. Although the DeSantis email is written in the (cringeworthy) patois of its genre, it does, within the limitations of such an email, provide an unusually comprehensive, integrated view of our current circumstances. DeSantis sees the pieces and fits them into a reasonably coherent whole.
Many people know the country is in trouble, though they can’t quite say why. DeSantis explains it, as a statesman should.
Our country is currently facing a great threat. A new enemy has emerged from the shadows that seeks to destroy and intimidate their way to a transformed state, and country, that you and I would hardly recognize.
The quality of the prose aside, the point is clear: We are in a war, facing an enemy that wants to destroy us. This is the right starting point: You cannot win a war if you don’t know or admit you are in one.
In the Republican party (and the Conservative movement) the great fault line is between those who believe we are in a (cold civil) war, fighting for our lives, and those who do not. We now know on which side of the line DeSantis stands. Other Presidential aspirants should tell us where they stand.
This enemy is the radical vigilante woke mob that will steamroll anything and anyone in their way. Their blatant attacks on the American way of life are clear and intensifying: stifling dissent, public shaming, rampant violence, and a perverted version of history.
DeSantis tells us the enemy is a “radical vigilante woke mob.” I am not certain this is the best way to describe the enemy, which is not, in fact, a bunch of outlaws. It is, as DeSantis later acknowledges, a loose confederation of the country’s major institutions, in his words, “media, educational institutions, corporate boards, professional sports, foundations, and professional institutions.” I would add to this list the Democratic party and the “administrative state.” I call this confederation the “Woke Communists”—”Woke Comms” for short— which is a modern-day decentralized totalitarian regime. Like all such regimes, the Woke Comms aim to control, not just politics, but all aspects of public and private life.
The 2020 riots showed the Woke Comms in action. Woke Comm agitators sparked the flame that lit the riots. Their intellectual leaders justified the riots; their corporate donors gave billions to the Black Lives Matter network; their media established the “mostly peaceful” narrative; and their politicians, from Joe Biden on down, fanned the flames. The same sort of informally coordinated effort was also at work in the Woke Comms’ reaction to the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings and the January 6 riot.
I think DeSantis should use the name “Woke Comms,” unless he can come up with a better one. Whichever it is, I implore him to settle on a name and use it over and over, until it becomes part of the nomenclature of our political discourse. You cannot win a war against an enemy you cannot name. DeSantis goes on:
A group that will, literally, tear down monuments and buildings but — perhaps in an even more sinister way — tear down the American spirit itself.
DeSantis’s meaning cannot be clearer: the Woke Comms aim to destroy America, body and soul.
What DeSantis does not say—perhaps because space is limited—is that Woke Communism has a different understanding of a just society than does traditional America. A just society for the Woke Comms is one where all identity groups are, relative to their percentage of the population, equal. For example, under the Woke Comm dispensation, blacks, who are about 13 percent of the population, must be 13 percent of the senators, engineers, prisoners, dishwashers, homeowners, orchestra members, Ivy League matriculants, valedictorians, and everything else you can think of. This is so-called “social justice.”
By contrast, in a free country, where individuals are encouraged to pursue happiness, there will always be group outcome differences—between men and women, and among various sub-cultures. To transform a free society (where there is group outcome inequality) into a Woke Comm society (where there is group outcome equality) can be achieved only by destroying, or radically altering, the institutions and values that support a free society. DeSantis gets this: To destroy America:
They go after the family unit, parental rights, traditional moral values, the church, and fact-based education.
Anything that leads to inequality is racist. Since freedom leads to inequality, freedom too is racist. Ibram X. Kendi, the chief Woke Comm theorist, has said just this. Can the threat of Woke Communism be any clearer?
Over the past few years, we’ve watched horrified as this group has attempted to brainwash our children into thinking we live in an evil, racist, irredeemable country.
First on the list of things that must go is our history: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land….” A nation’s memory explains who they are, their values and what they should strive for. America once thought she was the (“almost”) chosen people, on this earth to show the rest of the world that men can govern themselves. Our ideals of freedom and equality were sewn into our character. We believed in them, which made us keenly aware when we were not living up to them. The Woke Comms, on the other hand, tell us our country was founded on racism and is committed to its perpetuation.
This points to the most fundamental divide in this country: between those like DeSantis who think America is as good it gets and those, like the Woke Comms, who believe just the opposite.
Has there ever been a society that taught its citizens to hate their country? Such a society has a death wish.
DeSantis puts his finger on the central element of the woke comm strategy: convince us that we are systemically racist, and evil. If they succeed, we will allow them to overthrow the country. After all, if our country really is evil, if racism really has insinuated itself in all the interstices of American life, then we ought to throw the whole thing out.
Teaching that America is hateful requires, as DeSantis says, “brainwashing.” And to be effective the brainwashing must begin at a very young age. In addition to brainwashing, Woke Communism requires, as DeSantis said earlier, “stifling dissent, public shaming, rampant violence…” Terror is at the center of a totalitarian regime. The Woke Comm regime must, in effect, give citizens new minds that conform to the perverse Woke Comm understanding of the past, present, and future.
DeSantis is rightly looking at current events through the lens of totalitarianism. He knows we must understand our enemy’s strategies, which includes their use of language. The 2020 “peaceful protests” are already being dropped down the “memory hole.” Sometimes the Woke Comms provide the totalitarian language for us, as in the case of the Department of Homeland Security’s new “Disinformation Governance Board,” which, the Woke Comms tell us, was established to protect our democratic society—by limiting free speech.
The regime is brazenly taunting us, daring us to object. At the same time, the Woke Comms seem to have lulled the Democrats into thinking that state sponsored censorship is normal. How fantastic this is! Is there no Democratic politician who will protest? As well as anything, the silence from the putatively sensible Left shows us the degree to which the Woke Comms have taken control of the Democratic party.
True, the Disinformation Board was recently put on hold (“paused” as the Democrats put it) but, as with defunding the police, the Woke Comms are not abandoning these policies; they are merely waiting for a more propitious time to reintroduce them. On the bright side, though the Right may not have gained a lasting victory, it was given a glimpse of where the Woke Comms want to go. But is the Right even looking?
We should see the January 6 protesters, many still in jail, not as people who have committed misdemeanors but as “political prisoners.”
When Joe Biden tells us that white supremacists are the greatest threat America faces, we must understand the purpose of this preposterous claim: to lay the groundwork for coming after MAGA voters. Vilify then terrorize is an old totalitarian tactic. The white supremacist bogeyman justified bringing the National Guard to Washington for Biden’s inauguration. The purpose was not to protect anything; it was simply a show of force.
Or take the case of Hunter Biden’s laptop. The Woke Comms issued a statement in which 51 senior intelligence officials said the laptop had the earmarks of Russian disinformation; the same statement admitted they had no facts to substantiate their claim. In other words, they told us the laptop was Russian disinformation but then they admitted they were lying. Tactics such as this are designed to humiliate people into submission.
When we see people beaten up for indiscretions committed decades ago, we ought to understand this as part of the totalitarian goal of total compliance. After the revelation of the past indiscretion, the sinner issues a groveling apology, a ritualistic confession of guilt. As in Stalin’s Soviet Union, people even admit to sins they have not committed. The apology, however, brings no redemption; indeed, it only fires up the mob. No apology is enough. The objective is banishment and everlasting shame—the Woke Comm’s version of a bullet to the back of the head.
It is difficult to believe we have come to this point, more difficult still to believe that a majority of our citizens are taking this sitting down. DeSantis then refers to covid:
We listened to them deny science and data to exert political theater all the while trampling over personal liberties enshrined in the Constitution
The Covid pandemic allowed us to see how the regime, in the person of Anthony Fauci, “trampl[es] over personal liberties.” Fauci is the living embodiment of the administrative state, which substitutes rule by the people with rule by “experts.” Fauci oversold his expertise, was a liar or at least a snake-oil salesman, and censored opinions that contradicted his own. But the big problem with Fauci is not that he is a slippery, patronizing, know-it-all; rather that he thinks that every private and public decision should be based exclusively on the say-so of epidemiologists. He does not seem to understand that, even in the midst of our very serious Covid pandemic, there is more to life than Covid. As is rightly said of war and generals, an epidemic is much too important to be left to epidemiologists.
We saw them take to the streets for an entire summer like outlaws burning, looting, and destroying everything in sight while being told they were “mostly peaceful” and “passionate.”
The Woke Comms, like all totalitarian regimes, must abolish our capacity for distinguishing truth from falsehood. Truth is what the people in power say it is. The Kyle Rittenhouse case is another example of the Woke Comms deciding what is true and what is false. We were told by the Woke Comms that Kyle Rittenhouse committed murder when we could see with our own eyes that he was defending himself. But in a totalitarian regime it is not our eyes but the regime that tells us what we see.
DeSantis also draws our attention to the fact that Woke Communism employs mobs to do its dirty work. The Woke Comm mobs said to the Derrick Chauvin jury, in effect, “convict Chauvin of murder or we will give you a riot the likes of which you have never seen.” Something similar happened in Atlanta where a policeman had to be sacrificed to the mob. And the implied threat of riots hung over courts that were considering Trump’s election challenges. It was made perfectly clear that any decision that supported Trump would bring riots and chaos down on our heads. The Woke Comms are deliberately destroying the rule of law and replacing it with the rule of arbitrary force.
We watched Big Tech moguls in Silicon Valley be the arbiters of truth – deciding who gets to speak and who gets silenced through the digital public square.
The Woke Comms simply cannot permit the airing of opinions that contradict their orthodoxy. This means closing down avenues of discontent. Homeschooling, conservative media, and every other source of heterodox ideas must be plugged. Hence, the Right should make free speech the central plank in its platform. If we cannot speak the truth, we shall be consumed by falsehood. Then all is lost.
We The People still have a say. We know the truth, you and I, about America and the country she is and can be. We must fight to defeat these false pretenses and predetermined narratives.
We need strong men and women to fight the Woke Comms. Weak men and women deny danger in order to avoid their duty to fight. Is DeSantis a strong man? What about the other prospective Presidential candidates?
I am choosing to counter this enemy with faith, with reason, and with freedom. As Governor of the Free State of Florida, I have chosen to lead with a vision that builds America up rather than tears it down.
I’d like to think this means that DeSantis understands that America was built on both religious faith and reason. As John Adams instructed us, our regime was made only for a moral people. And as George Washington added, we should not suppose that “morality can be maintained without religion.”
Together we can ensure that our children are raised to know they live in the greatest state in the nation, the greatest country in the world and that they have an opportunity to continue making them even greater.
Here DeSantis touches on the most needful thing: to teach our future citizens to love their country and explain why it is worthy of their love. Our youngest should be taught that America is the best country in the world.
There is plenty of time teach about our country’s sins. But even then, we must keep in mind the perspective of Daniel Patrick Moynihan:
Am I embarrassed to speak for a less than perfect democracy? Not one bit. Find me a better one. Do I suppose there are societies which are free of sin? No, I don’t. Do I think ours is, on balance, incomparably the most hopeful set of human relations the world has? Yes, I do.
Here is the right conservative response to the adolescent utopianism of the Woke Comms.
In this email DeSantis has done a very credible job identifying the enemy, its goals, and how it goes about achieving those goals. You cannot successfully fight an enemy if you do not understand these things.
DeSantis commits himself to the fight and invites us to join him. This is a good beginning. He should expand and sharpen his analysis.
In fact, he should turn his email into a speech, one that provides the predicate for his run for President, whether an announcement speech or not. He should explain why the Statue of Liberty is at risk. He must make sure that his audience does not think this is just a rhetorical ploy; he must explain why the risk is real. He must make his audience fear the Woke Comm future. He must make us imagine how much is at stake. And then DeSantis must pledge to defend Lady Liberty up to his last full measure of devotion.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.