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DeSantis Surfed in on a Red Wave of His Own Making
In a Collapsing Republic, DeSantis has Made Florida a Model of Competent, Popular, Conservative Governance
“The leader and ruler of mortal life is the rational soul. And when it proceeds toward glory down a path of manly virtue, it has more than enough power and potential to win fame and it does not need the help of chance, which cannot grant or steal from anyone honesty, diligence, and other excellent qualities.” - Sallust [The Jugurthine War, 1]
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Another election has come and gone, and once again, most results don’t make sense and completely defy what data, logic, and precedent told us should have happened. Do you remember how in 2020 they never found a compelling story to explain the absurd results? I doubt we will ever see one for 2022 either. It is impossible for me to believe that some of these vote totals were the result of honest counting, but at the same time I am unwilling to make any claims of that nature which I cannot back up with strong evidence. However, there is a strong case for being skeptical of the accuracy and honesty of the overall process.
I, along with everyone else, was sure that the combination of the historic trend of the President’s party losing big his first midterm, the polls showing Republicans performing strongly, Biden’s terrible job approval numbers, the economic collapse, and the general awfulness of Democrats, that Republicans were sure to have one of their biggest midterm wins in history. The results that are presented to us simply don’t seem possible based on everything we know about election results. It feels like the most absurd part should be that a massive red wave hit Florida and nowhere else, with both DeSantis and Rubio outperforming their polls by a large margin. DeSantis is popular, but he is also nationally controversial, and Florida shouldn’t just have a different mood than the rest of the country. The truth is that DeSantis just is better than the rest of them, and has turned what was once the nation’s most important swing-state into a Republican bastion in just four years. The one clear lesson of this strange election is that with the Trump candidates losing, it is time for him to retire and accept that DeSantis and his excellent leadership are the future of the party.
Regarding the national picture, the fact is that elections in America are an absolute mess, even if you assume honest incompetence, which I don’t. I can’t verify the accuracy of some of the claims in this piece, but I will trust your own judgement about the reliability, like you’re some sort of adult:
Even if none of this is taken as evidence of wrongdoing, the people who run our elections are doing a really bad job. This shouldn’t be a constant feature of the world’s most advanced country, no matter what Democrats try to tell you:
It’s interesting to note that Florida, where Republicans did so well, reformed its election system after the 2000 debacle and actually performs elections with integrity and competence.
As Glenn Greenwald likes to point out, Brazil is a massive country with mandatory voting beginning at age 16, and as we saw in their recent election, they are able to rapidly count a huge number of votes nationwide without any problem.
As I said, I don’t want to make any claims I can’t thoroughly back up about fraud but any reasonable person would think this looks wrong. It’s hard to come to a different conclusion than that Democrats only support this because they know they are cheating. As far as I know, America is alone among developed nations which claim to have Free and Fair Elections™ to have anything like this. I mean one county in Pennsylvania ran out of ballot paper, whether it was from incompetence or bad intentions that is an insane problem to have that no one should look upon without serious skepticism. I found it kind of amusing that the media was panicking about the premise of “election deniers” running for Secretary of State in multiple states. I didn’t look deeply into it, and they could have said any number of zany things, but it’s normal for candidates to think the incumbent is doing a bad job- thinking you can serve the public by doing better in the position is the only virtuous reason to run for office. Running for Secretary of State because you don’t believe the election results are accurate is, in and of itself, no different than running for County Prosecutor because you think the current guy is letting too many criminals go.
In my own state, where Tiffany Smiley is currently under-performing polls by 11 points with 56% of ballots counted the next day, we have a ridiculous mail-only open primary system where the top two candidate of any party move on [something which commonly leads to two people of the same party on the ballot but never lets 3rd parties into the general election.] This is the result of a sequence of events where, from my memory, the system was changed by the legislature due to a lawsuit, that system was ruled unconstitutional and the state Supreme Court invented a new system whole-cloth, then the legislature made the mail-only system within the Supreme Court’s specifications. The Democrats love this system, in part because they’re always sure they lead among people too stupid, irresponsible, or unmotivated to figure out going to the polls. [Seriously this “Make a plan to vote!” rhetoric drives me crazy, as if it’s any different than anything else where you look up a time and location and then go, such as any event you have ever been to.] The Democrats also love the system because they’ve never lost a major state-wide race since it was implemented. They talk about how great and secure our elections are, but basically every Republican you talk to thinks they routinely cheat, and they’ve kept Republicans powerless enough that there is nothing they can do about this perception. There is a benefit to seeing the old ladies you know from town running the polling stations, it has the feel of integrity, not to mention the civic experience of going to vote that many people appreciate. Concerns about integrity are made worse with something like this Senate race, where the most accurate poll is running 8 points off the next day; further, they’ve somehow only reported on 56% of ballots despite the fact that they must have had a far higher percentage that that in their possession before polls closed on Tuesday [there are drop boxes at the courthouses] but they didn’t bother to “make a plan” to get them counted in one day. [In the time I was writing this they managed to get up to 67% a day later, and Murray now leads by 13.6.]
Why would anyone trust this system? And I want to emphasize that I’m not saying this because “my side” lost, I’m saying this because there is no good explanation for the overall results. “The people” fairly electing a President like Joe Biden or supporting an incumbent party which behaves like the modern Democrats in an era of these problems is essentially unprecedented in human history. Anyway, as usual, since the Democrats did better than expected, it will now be considered treason to question the results:
But moving on, it’s time to look at what did happen. After all, our elections are state administered and it’s unlikely there is a single massive conspiracy, and as anyone who has played Tropico knows, you can only move an election by a small amount before the general public notices and it causes you serious problems. This means that concerns with our ridiculous electoral system aside, Democrats clearly had a genuinely better performance than anyone expected in most states. This seems impossible with inflation as a top issue, though Democrat messaging about abortion may have had an impact, as exit polls showed it to be the #2 issue. There are a few problems with that though, in that some of those abortion voters are pro-life Republicans, and more importantly, nothing on that issue changed immediately preceding the election so it should have been in the polls how that would impact the election. It seems like a crazy thing to be a top issue given the cost of groceries, but they spent 50 years terrifying women about the end of Roe V Wade and some states have passed unpopular maximalist abortion laws.
The problem with the idea that abortion was the deciding factor is that Republicans had a great night in Texas, where they passed some of the nation’s most extreme abortion restrictions. Texas is also an enormous state, where it would be difficult to travel to another state for an abortion, so if this would hurt them anywhere it should be there. It surely wasn’t just that Beto O’Rourke is ridiculously cringe and pathetic, and like election-denier Stacey Abrams is more popular with national donors than the people of his state. [It’s not clear to me what national donors like about either of those awful candidates, presumably they are just corrupt.] If abortion was that huge of an issue his weakness as a candidate wouldn’t have mattered that much.
Georgia tells the same story:
One of the reasons given for DeSantis outperforming the other Republicans, that he supported a moderate 15 week abortion law of the sort I’m in favor of, can be dismissed as the cause of DeSantis’ success given that Abbott and Kemp also fared well.
There’s been some speculation that crime wasn’t the issue people thought it would be, but crime is a highly localized problem and seems to have mattered a great deal:
All of these issues seem to point to more evidence that Republicans should have had a much better night nationally. It appears that one aspect is that the Democrats’ ridiculous, irresponsible strategy of boosting “extremist” or unqualified candidates paid off, but with everything going against them that really doesn’t make sense. Still:
Basically, if that did work the Democrats will be taking the message that it’s fine to stay the course as the country collapses.
There is one more thesis to cover that I fear may be painfully correct, before we move on to the man of the hour and the previous guy. Scott McKay, writing for The American Spectator, put out a piece titled, “Maybe America Hasn’t Suffered Enough.” I’m going to quote his thesis at length:
“There are so many utterly horrid Democrats who will remain in office after this election that it should be offensive to average Americans. It’s tempting to fall into the trap of believing there must be wholesale corruption in American elections, but the problem with going there is that there must be proof before it’s actionable.
Until some is presented, we’ll have to deal with something very unpleasant. Namely, here’s the truth that we on the Right are going to have to accept: the American electorate in 2022 is awful.
And the axiom about the cycle that involves weak men and tough times is a real thing, and we are in the worst quadrant of that cycle.
We are still in the time in which weak men make tough times. We have not gotten to the point where tough times make tough men.
But get ready because those tough times will do their work. Perhaps for quite a long while.”
[Note: I covered this cycle and its relevance to politics in my introduction to classical political theory.]
It’s a distressing conclusion, but perhaps he is right and Americans just are that bad. What optimism I had from the seemingly widespread desire for covid trials has certainly dissipated. The further thing is that if there is systemic corruption and they’re getting away with it that also says very bad things about the public.
Whatever happened with the party at large, DeSantis bucked the trend with an enormous 19.4 point victory over former Governor Charlie Crist, a 19 point improvement over DeSantis’ narrow surprise win in 2018. There are some incredible statistics about this: that is the largest margin in a Florida governor’s race in 40 years; in that time the most a Florida governor has gone up in his re-election contest is 3%; the average loss in support compared to a Florida Governor’s first election is 8%, which DeSantis outperformed by an insane 27.4%. On top of that in, in Miami-Dade county he gained 32 points compared to 2018. These are unheard of numbers, and he got them through strong, competent leadership. DeSantis won among the Hispanic voters politicians care so much about by 15 points, which is one of the reasons it is so surprising the party would not have better overall performance. DeSantis only did 3% worse with Hispanics than with the population at large. The truth is though that Hispanics are very diverse, and the Spanish speakers in Miami are from an entirely different background than Hispanics in Los Angeles or along the Rio Grande Valley. His victory probably had little to do with their being Hispanic, and more that they lived in the state as he governed it well.
Most importantly, when it was politically dangerous to do so, he ended most covid restrictions after “only” six months, though Florida’s restrictions were always relatively less egregious than other states. He promised lockdowns would never happen again. The national media said all sorts of ludicrous things about how dangerous this was, but they couldn’t hide from Floridians that “living with covid” was completely fine. As the federal government and other states continued setting tyrannical, ridiculous, and dangerous policies, in Florida life returned to normal. The people of Florida know he made the right decision, and there is no one they can credit but DeSantis for how much better their lives were and are than people in other states. Some thought it would be a political liability, but being as nothing bad happened and you can choose to stay home, few in Florida are angry they didn’t experience extra years of that tyrannical bullshit.
On top of this, it seems that DeSantis’ controversial war on “woke” has also paid off, as it turned out mutilating children is not popular with voters and that they do think parents should have a say in education that doesn’t include weird age-inappropriate sexual indoctrination. It’s obvious from these results that DeSantis is the future of the party.
I take one issue with this otherwise solid thread, however:
I struggle to believe that is true. With how things are, it should be the case that the public will vote for just about anyone who isn’t the ruling party. They wouldn’t have got DeSantis’ huge numbers, but with all of these circumstances that should have been enough to handily win the election just by being the other people.
You should watch DeSantis’ victory speech, where he says among other things that Florida was a refuge for sanity when the world went mad, Florida is where “woke” goes to die, and that leaders lead, not follow the trends. The leading instead of following is certainly one of DeSantis’ advantages as the Republican party as a whole turned against covid restrictions well after their supporters, whereas DeSantis was the person who showed many of them that covid restrictions could be safely ended.
His supporters also shout “Two More Years,” an indication that they want him to be the next President and won’t hold spending two years campaigning for President against him- beyond which DeSantis says he has a great team running the state, and Florida is a model of successful conservative governance.
These results show that DeSantis is the future of the Republican Party. People can make up whatever they want about how he might not play in other states, but Florida is a traditional swing state where he won 10% of the electorate over to his side in four years of good governance. They also show that Trump has become an albatross on the neck of the Republican Party. Candidates that he got through the primaries lost. I think a large part of the issue is Trump actually is the idiot who let “public health officials” lead us into covid madness, and in many ways seems to still not see how wrong he was.
Trump had said, before the horrible results, that he would make a “very big announcement” on November 15th. Obviously, he meant he intended to announce he was forming an Presidential exploratory committee [there are legal campaign finance reasons its better to do that than properly announce, even if you wholly intend to run.] I had hoped these results would discourage him and change that announcement to that he was retiring from politics and would support the eventual nominee in whatever way was requested. I knew Trump was too vain and megalomaniacal for that to be likely, and he quickly showed that he is:
Of course Trump’s point is irrelevant, as Presidential years have much higher turnouts than midterms and everyone knows that. Further, DeSantis won by over 15 points more than Trump did. However, this signals Trump doesn’t see the writing on the wall and of course doesn’t care about the good of the party or the country and will be going for it. Fortunately DeSantis is pretty upright and already has the “I’m working for the people of Florida” schtick down when he deals with media nonsense, so he can probably broadly ignore Trump’s petty bullshit should they run against each other. He also has a legitimately good record and as far as we know is an upstanding family man, so he is hard to attack from the right. Thus far “De-Sanctimonius” is the best Trump has come up to mock DeSantis with, but he is just getting started. As far as I’m concerned, this election is empirical evidence that the era of Trump as the Republican leader is done, and I hope DeSantis doesn’t “wait his turn” while the party and America gets destroyed. I felt differently a week ago, but the results are in: it is DeSantis’ party.
On a personal level, I have serious concerns about DeSantis being bad on foreign policy. However, his foreign policy is mostly the standard, mainstream bad foreign policy, so it is par for the course. As a friend said, “They’re all bad on foreign policy, DeSantis ‘24.” Further, any Florida Republican has to be hostile to Cuba and now Venezuela because of the huge anti-communist expatriate/immigrant communities. He doesn’t seem like a lunatic proactively looking to start new wars and is mostly domestically focused. I used to be the most concerned about foreign policy in a Presidential candidate, both because it is the area where they have huge unilateral power and also because of Rothbard’s argument that it tells you what their domestic policy will be [such as someone who would drop a nuclear bomb obviously doesn’t care about human liberty.] The truth though is that the federal government has become so egregious on the domestic front I don’t have the strength to continue making decisions primarily based on its victims abroad. I need relief from the federal government and it’s most important to me that we won’t go through another nonsense “pandemic” in the near future. Further, I’ve grown to believe we do need to use the state to fight the “woke mind virus” and that it’s crucial to have a President who is pro-American energy and industry. Thus, DeSantis it is.
Here is Tucker explaining the enormity of the DeSantis victory, including that he won people with post-graduate degrees by 7%, which may be the most incredible statistic of all. CNN didn’t even run into a Crist supporter walking the streets all day:
2022 was yet another ridiculous, indecisive election that mostly makes no sense. It is hard to see how the overall results were honest, but there is still plenty we can learn while questioning how some people in charge couldn’t be bothered to stock ballots. Most of all, Americans are not as done with the Democrats as everyone assumed, but Trumpism is dead and DeSantis has shown that bold, conservative, competent leadership can win over Americans from all walks of life. Republicans have seen a model of successful, popular governance that can massively outperform the political winds and build cheat-proof majorities. Democrats should fear for their future, because it appears Republican’s may have a once-in-a-lifetime leader on their hands, if only he can stay above Trump’s compulsion to destroy what he cannot control.
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