Ron DeSantis follows in Donald Trump’s authoritarian footsteps

By Ruth Ben-Ghiat
Ron DeSantis follows in Donald Trump's authoritarian footsteps

“There are no second chances. It’s well known that you can’t go against him. If you cross him once, you’re dead,” the unnamed politician told Politico, speaking anonymously to avoid becoming a target. The comment, by a former Florida state legislator, does not refer to Donald Trump, as one might assume, but to another vindictive leader: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

If DeSantis is becoming many Republicans’ answer to their “Trump problem,” his rise is because of his authoritarian sympathies and attitudes, not in spite of them. He promises a more “respectable”-seeming version of illiberal rule than the baggage-laden outrage specialist that is Trump. No wonder dozens of billionaires backed him even before his November re-election.

If DeSantis is becoming many Republicans’ answer to their “Trump problem,” his rise is because of his authoritarian sympathies and attitudes, not in spite of them.

The U.S. is not the first country to have support build among conservative elites for a more disciplined extremist after an unpredictable authoritarian leader takes things “too far.” As president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte fondly…

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