The Real Danger Isn’t Trump or DeSantis
It’s the illiberal desires of Republican voters. Plus: Hogan makes his exit.
1. Shark vs. Alligator vs. Gorilla
I’m back and I have some thoughts on the “who’s worse, Trump or DeSantis?” conversation from last week.1
Quick recap: My friend/colleague Damon Linker wrote a piece arguing that DeSantis is not as dangerous as Trump.
Jonathan Chait and John Ganz wrote thoughtful meditations on the ways in which this is true and also the ways in which DeSantis ought to be judged as dangerous in his own right.
Andrew Sullivan contributed to the discourse by predicting that The Bulwark would endorse Trump in 2024.2
Here is the thing: I get the appeal of the question. It’s like wondering who would win in a fight—a gorilla, an alligator, or a shark.
But it’s the wrong question because the danger doesn’t emanate primarily from the politician.
The danger emanates from the will of the voters.
We have a number of potential Republican candidates who fit squarely in the middle of America’s political tradition:
Nikki Haley. Brian Kemp. Tim Scott. Mike Pompeo. Glenn Youngkin. Mike Pence.
You may have ideological or policy disagreements with all of them. You might vastly prefer a replacement-level Democrat to any of them. Fine. But none of those figures either has a record of, or is campaigning on a promise to, walk American back from the tradition of liberal democracy.
On the other hand, the field has just two candidates who are explicitly positioning