Politicians evolve. We all know we can expect changes from the time a candidate first announces a run for office, and thereafter forevermore. It is typically our collective and disappointing experience to watch politicians devolve, to go backward, regress, even crash and burn.
For sure, we all change and are subject to unpredictable events that were not part of our original calculus. Witnessing a political leader evolve to new levels of effectiveness is as rare as a balanced budget. It has happened, but don’t expect it on a regular basis.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) continues to be a rare treat to conservatives. He continues his unique evolution with an ever-quickening pace. It appears his handling of Florida’s COVID crisis will be a textbook model for future governors to follow. But it isn’t as if Ron Desantis pulled a mysterious rabbit from a political hat. He engaged in no sleight of hand. There was nothing up his sleeve as he directed one of the most effective efforts to manage the virus with minimal disruption.
Watching DeSantis on the Political Stage
DeSantis recently appear with Sean Hannity’s Foxnews show with several other “conservative” governors. Despite the half-dozen able Republican governors on the stage with him, Ron stood out. He was the one we wanted to hear. Clearly, he was the one Hannity wanted to talk to. His persona is larger than his actual physical stature. All of this results from his pragmatism during the pandemic.
His common-sense approach to balancing Florida’s flattening of the curve started by taking care of the elderly, and we all noticed that “following the science” was not that difficult after all. We just needed an alternative to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the executive antithesis of Ron DeSantis.
It seems that each week DeSantis signs a new piece of common-sense legislation designed to slow DC’s bold overreach into States’ rights. Its beauty is found in the fact that even his GOP counterparts seem slow-of-foot to match his imagination, his effectiveness, his results. Political grass does not grow under Ron’s feet. His view is not unlike all good pilots who talk and often live by what is called “360-degree situational awareness.”
Be certain about this one thing, Governor Ron DeSantis is his own man, creating his own political blueprint. When it was time for him to run for House, he did so, and when it was time to leave, he did so. When it comes to bright lights and fanfare, DeSantis seems to be able to choreograph his movements, announcements, and leadership decisions with a style less like Hollywood and more like a skilled surgeon, scalpel in hand.
Reaching his Governing Apex
Soon, DeSantis will reach his governing apex. All leaders do, even the best of them. There are only so many bills one can generate and sign, if not because of one’s own limitations, but because the culture eventually overtakes even the best political leaders…all of them. Few there be who walk away to a life of perpetual praise.
This is an opinion piece and it’s time to opine.
Despite Ron DeSantis’s rhythmic nature, there is a sense of mission about him. There are things he doesn’t talk about, won’t talk about. Becoming President of the United States is that big thing he won’t discuss. I’m not alone in my sense of his direction. I’m certain, if only by intuition and life experience, of his suppressed desire to lead America from the White House.
But is Ron DeSantis ready? Has his political trajectory reached the height of its arch? Has his freeway taken him to a new off-ramp where he can find his next big challenge, his biggest ever? Is Ron ready? Is he ready to be President? Does he need more time…would time help, and if so, how? Privately many conservatives are not certain Trump will or should run again. If Donald Trump steps aside, is Ron DeSantis ready to take the baton?
As a strategic consideration, should Trump decide not to pursue another term as President, he could easily transition his America First policies into a DeSantis campaign and effectively declare a Trump 2.0 presidency much like Obama has done with Biden. After all, there is very little policy light between the two men.
Let me be clear. No one is ever “ready” to be President, at least not in the sense that one might prepare for an athletic competition, or work as an Astro-physicist. Coders can be prepped, trained up to hack out HTML, PHP, or C+. There’s no classroom or academic regimen that can prepare a person to lead America. Bush wasn’t ready for 911, Trump wasn’t ready for COVID, and Obama wasn’t ready for IRAN. None of them was truly ready. When it comes to being President you simply decide to become, then you become. It seems to be a transitional experience that is just that blunt. One day you are one!
Again, is Ron DeSantis Ready?
When prepping for this editorial, I asked myself, Is Ron DeSantis ready to be President? Almost as if I could know. If I had written this piece about Donald Trump in 2015, I would likely have cautioned us to think a businessman who was more like a wrecking ball was a wild stretch. In all honesty, I would have said, Donald Trump isn’t ready to be President. I would have been wrong, not about the wrecking ball, but about him, as POTUS.
Given that Donald J. Trump is the GOP’s elephant in the room (pun absolutely intended) it isn’t yet “time” for DeSantis to be President. And yet, there’s a great big knot in my stomach causing me to think Trump might not run again. He could play it either way. On Monday, I say he won’t…by Thursday of each week, I’m convinced he will. When I watch and listen to Joe Biden, I think, he must.
I remain uncertain about whether Trump wants to run, should run, will run. If DJT opts out, I have already asked myself, is Governor Ron DeSantis ready to be President of the United States?
Yes, as a matter of fact, he is.
[photo by Gage Skidmore: CC license]
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