Douglas Murray has written a good column for the Telegraph today about the success of U.S. conservatives in routing the left. Chief among them is Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida. The lesson, says Douglas, is to robustly defend traditional values.
The Conservative Party has some big choices before it. But it isn’t just whether it wants to be led by Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak. The choice is whether it wants to stagger along as another centrist political party, or whether it wants to actually win some conservative victories. It could learn something about the latter by looking to the successes of the conservative movement in America.
American politics today is dominated by a generation of Left-wing politicians who are all in, or fast approaching, their 80s. They are out of ideas and out of successors. If you look at the bench of Democrat politicians likely to replace Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi it is very thin pickings indeed. Can anyone imagine a great wave of enthusiasm for Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg?
The Republicans, by contrast, are bursting with younger talent. Some of which may even be about to see off the monster of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump, who has not yet announced his presidential bid.
But whether Trump runs or not, there are major challengers to him. Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN, has been making it clear that she is running for the Republican nomination. Yet all eyes are on the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. A poll out this week, taken in the primary battleground state of Michigan, showed DeSantis and Trump neck and neck among Republican voters. Other recent polls have shown DeSantis polling above Trump.
There are reasons for this. Some are obvious. Trump has serious opposition to his candidacy not just among swing voters but among some Republicans too. The drip of revelations from the admittedly highly partisan January 6 committee has begun to have an impact. Many Republicans may still like Trump, but it is clear that he is a millstone around their party as well.
DeSantis, by contrast – at half Trump’s age – spells a break from the past as well as a continuation of it. These things are not mutually exclusive. The 43-year-old could thank Trump for some of the good things he achieved, but promise to take it from here without the overweight baggage that Trump has come to be.
Best of all is that, as Governor of Florida, DeSantis has some serious successes behind him. He was the Governor who during Covid made sure that his state did not lock down. It was an exceptionally tough call, made in spite of the consensus in most of the other states and indeed most other countries. DeSantis spoke to medical experts but he concluded that Florida should stay open. And it did. And not only did it not have any great excess mortality rate (when compared to size and age of population) it has had a boom of people from other states choosing to visit, or even move to, the free state of Florida.
Worth reading in full.