Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear orange make-up.
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Donald Trump is a force of nature — just like parasites, viruses, and cancer. Driven by selfishness and a severe case of malignant narcissism, he can’t help but leave a wave of devastation in his wake. Now, for the first time, he is using that destructive power for good… and, ironically, nobody is giving him any credit for it.
But we will.
Trump is an unlikely hero. It’s tough to imagine a less patriotic person than the former president (which admittedly sounds like a weird thing to say).
Whenever he had the opportunity to put the country ahead of his own interests, he chose himself. From dodging the draft and evading income taxes to dividing Americans with his lies and staging a coup (as well as possibly selling out the country for personal gain), Trump has always and exclusively been about Trump.
Fortunately, in this case, his self-interest aligns with the greater good.
So what is this vital service Trump is providing to the nation (and we are saying this completely unironically)?
He is going to keep Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) out of the White House.
There are some who say that there isn’t much of a difference between Ron and Don. That could not be further from the truth.
Yes, Trump is a bumbling idiot whose cocktail of mental disorders (the aforementioned narcissism, unbridled greed, compulsive lying, etc.) makes him a uniquely awful human being and a terrible president. But he isn’t really evil.
To understand the differences between these two men, you have to understand what motivates them.
Here is what Trump wants from his millions of cult-like followers, many of whom would do anything for him: He wants to be loved (don’t we all?), he wants to con them into giving him money (it’s the American way), and he wants them to violently take action when he is convicted of something (admittedly, that one is bad). His authoritarian fantasies are just a byproduct of that pathological need for approval.
In other words, Trump likes dictators because they can decree that they be loved.
For DeSantis, the authoritarianism is the point; he wants to control people.
Trump doesn’t give a damn about that. He just wants to be adored. If it would get people to come to his rallies and cheer for him, Trump would slather himself in honey and poke a beehive on stage.
DeSantis, on the other hand, doesn’t care about the crowds. He just wants to pull the bees’ wings out — and not only because he enjoys it but because cruelty is his brand.
It is an image that he has carefully cultivated. Essentially, DeSantis has spent his entire time in office picking on some of the most vulnerable groups — immigrants, LGBTQ Floridians, felons trying to get their lives back in order after having served their time — and punishing their (real and perceived) allies.
And he has done so using all levers of power available to him… as well as some stuff that was likely illegal.
Now, you might ask yourself: What kind of jerk does that?
The answer to that question is pretty simple: A smart jerk who wants to win the Republican nomination.
Because GOP voters want a cruel bully. A recent poll shows that 85 percent of them prefer a candidate who “challenges woke ideas,” and 57 percent of them want someone who “makes liberals angry.”
So, DeSantis just gives them what they want. Say what you want about him, he is not dumb.
Which makes it even sweeter that his carefully crafted plan is being obliterated by a complete moron like Donald Trump… before DeSantis has even announced his candidacy.
And it’s not just this presidential run that seems doomed.
Most politicians get exactly one shot at the presidency. DeSantis, who should be nowhere near the White House, chose this one.
On one hand, that makes sense. After January 6, and with his legal troubles mounting, it certainly seemed possible that Trump would disappear. And in that case, there would have been a vacuum that DeSantis could have easily filled.
But hoping that Trump will disappear is like wishing away cancer. It doesn’t work. Instead, you need surgery and/or chemotherapy, and the GOP has never been willing to take the extreme steps necessary to rid itself of Trump.
And that’s where DeSantis made his mistake: As soon as it became clear that the ex-president would not go away, the Florida governor should have bowed out and saved his shot for 2028.
In fact, he should have offered a full-throated endorsement of Trump: “A lot of people have urged me to run. But how can I do that when I believe that the last election was stolen from President Trump? He is the leader of our party and deserves another chance to right this wrong.”
If he had done that, DeSantis could have waltzed to the 2028 nomination.
Fortunately, however, he was too ambitious for that. Maybe he believed his poll numbers or the media hype. In any case, even without officially announcing, he got into the race, and Trump immediately dispatched him.
In the process, without even having to do much, the former president has completely emasculated the governor… which is a real problem if you want to cultivate a “tough guy” image. He has shown that DeSantis is just a common bully who can only pick on those weaker than he is.
And that might be the greatest service Trump will ever do for his country.
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), Ron Desantis caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), child (Rene Asmussen / Pexels), and room (THAM YUAN YUAN / Pixabay).