DeSantis betrays himself by falling for debate meme
STOP MAKING SENSE
Florida Governor and one-time presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis is heading towards disaster. He has agreed to a televised live “debate” with California Governor Gavin Newsom that will be held on November 30.
Although the debate is being hosted by Fox News and will be moderated by conservative political commentator Sean Hannity, DeSantis is definitely on his defensive here. For starters, DeSantis is a bad debater. His previous debate performances were so stilted and uncomfortable that they led to speculation that he had some kind of developmental disorder.
DeSantis is also reeling from the fact that his much-hyped and very expensive presidential campaign has been an abject failure. DeSantis is far behind in every primary poll, and his poll numbers have only dropped as the public gained more exposure to him. Taking this debate at all seems to be an obvious desperation move, a fact gleefully pointed out by Governor Newsom.
Newsom, in contrast, has momentum behind him. Although Newsom has turned California into a virtual failed state during his tenure as governor, he is much quicker on his feet than DeSantis. He has a very powerful ability to shamelessly lie with charisma. In previous interviews with Hannity, Newsom has simply denied that the problems he caused even occurred, or at least was able to deflect these accusations to avoid a “Gotcha” answer.
Further boosting Newsom is the fact that although DeSantis took the ill-advised public position of trying to attack President Trump (the most rightwing President in decades) from the Right, Newsom has taken pains to conceal his radical agenda underneath a moderate exterior.
Newsom is diligently working to ease some of the most visible problems created by the policies he supported, from the out-of-control organized shoplifting that followed California essentially legalizing theft to removing the massive homeless encampments that sprung up as part of a larger legislative war on quality of life. Newsom even vetoed a bill that would remove children from parents who questioned the government-backed trans fad. Although all of these moves are normal, liberal politicians have simply not been allowed to take these positions for years due to the ongoing radicalization of mainstream Democrats and their tens of millions of voters.
The debate is truly pointless, at least for conservatives. DeSantis has nothing to gain and Newsom has nothing to lose. The fact that an otherwise intelligent conservative like DeSantis would find himself in this position displays a reoccurring problem with the attitudes and instincts in the American Right.
DeSantis is a good governor. Although his gubernatorial campaign needed help from Trump in 2016, DeSantis has improved Florida immeasurably since taking office. This success is recognized by voters: Florida is slowly drifting towards North Korea numbers for Republicans. People from all over the country are moving to Florida because it’s a nice place to live.
In contrast, Americans are fleeing California en masse because it’s not a nice place to live anymore, in large part due to policies that Newsom supported and enabled. Life in California, which is probably the geographic pinnacle of the United States, has been made miserable by Newsom and the radical activists he represents. Everything is becoming more expensive, basic services are shutting down, crime is rampant and actively facilitated by the Democratic Party.
These are objective facts. They’re not up for debate. The DeSantis model works. The Newsom model doesn’t. With this in mind, DeSantis’s decision to argue with Newsom about this for an hour and a half on live TV doesn’t really make much sense. Although DeSantis has reality on his side, by engaging in a discussion with Newsom he is opening his accomplishments up to dishonest attack. He should know that he’s already won. The public should know that, too. And yet, the obvious real world outcomes for Florida and California are taking a backseat to what is essentially performance art between two political candidates. Although Newsom would have a hard time illustrating how he’s made his citizens’ lives better, Newsom can easily verbally outmaneuver an awkward and uncharismatic speaker like DeSantis.
Liberals, from national politicians to everyday people, do not operate in good faith. Adopting positions like “it is beneficial to society that theft be legal” requires some level of intentional or unintentional dishonesty. I will always remember watching video of the Kyle Rittenhouse self-defense shooting with an older liberal, only for the liberal to deny or feign confusion about basic indisputable facts of the video we were watching—like that it showed a lone person being pursued by a group of people.
This is part of a larger historical constant when dealing with leftists high and low. After the Sacco and Vanzetti case, liberals have claimed for decades that two members of a terrorist organization who had been found with a murder weapon and a gun taken from the scene of an armed robbery were actually innocent pacifists railroaded by a bigoted system.
In the 1910 L.A. Times bombing case, which followed union organizers blowing up a newspaper office with dynamite and killing 21 people, liberals claimed that there was actually no bomb at all, that the explosion had been from a gas leak, and that the union organizers had been framed by a sinister big business conspiracy. Leftist politics, both today and in the past, are perhaps best understood as an alliance between those who will say anything and those who will believe anything. Whether motivated by stupidity, mental illness, or outright malice, these collective lies move millions.
In situations like these, which involve so much dishonesty, it’s important to recognize that there is not a debate or discussion occurring. I was not having a good faith conversation about whether or not a lone figure was being pursued by a group of figures on the surveillance video in order to reach a shared greater understanding. It was impossible to prove my case: either the person would admit what they saw or they would not (they eventually did but just moved on to the next bogus objection to Rittenhouse’s behavior).
The only possible benefit that can come from discussing a topic with someone who you know to be dishonest is making your case to an audience watching the debate. Although in the past robust and productive public debates were possible, this is simply not true today. American society is fragmented along many different lines. People approach the same facts with fundamentally different and irreconcilable worldviews. You will never convince the child of an illegal immigrant that deporting their parents is the right move for America, just as you will never convince an MSNBC viewer that what DeSantis has achieved in Florida is far better than what has happened to California over the last few years.
Someone like Newsom has no incentive to participate in this debate in good faith. He has nothing to lose by speaking to a Fox News audience that is already hostile to him for good reason. He has an enormous amount to gain, however, from lying. DeSantis has essentially given Newsom the perfect way to reintroduce himself to the public without the baggage of reality. The debate will just be DeSantis, Newsom, and moderator Sean Hannity. People aren’t going to be seeing the truth of Newsom’s policies: out-of-control crime, government waste, and insane social activism, they’re going to be seeing the carefully-curated public image of a smooth-talking and charismatic politician. DeSantis can get hurt in this. He can stumble over his words and look weak or be unable to refute an unexpected lie. DeSantis is a model of good governance. The model clearly works, and yet for some reason that is being treated as though it’s up for discussion.
Rather than legitimizing bad faith debates. Conservatives should be deintellectualizing these issues. Someone who says that California offers a better path forward for America than Florida hasn’t just reached a different conclusion from the same facts, they are lying. Call them liars. Explain their lies in detail and don’t give them a chance to respond. Acting like these people have anything important or valid to say is a defeat in its own right. It is sending the wrong message to your audience. The best outcome from a debate is that you offer an example to friendly people to make similar arguments in their own lives. You don’t actually need to provide leftists with a platform when you do this.
After the union organizers who blew up the L.A. Times building and killed all those people finally pled guilty, their lawyer, famed civil rights leader Clarence Darrow, was placed on trial for trying to bribe two jurors. During Darrow’s bribery trials, the motivation behind his lies about the bombing (such as claiming that there was no bombing at all) became more explicit: he wanted his terrorist clients to go free because he supported terrorism. He thought blowing those people up was justified. The approach worked. Darrow was acquitted in his first trial and the jury was unable to reach a verdict in his second trial.
Darrow had tried this bit before. He represented a union leader “Big Bill” Haywood in 1907 when Haywood was accused of ordering the murder of the former governor of Idaho. During his closing argument, Darrow brushed over the evidence and instead essentially argued that really the case was about whether you supported labor or big business. The grisly murder of a politician who opposed union violence was small potatoes compared to the larger campaign for social justice.
This sort of thinking is contagious. Russia experienced an unprecedented wave of mass violence after the 1905 Revolution. Judges, cops, lawyers, and juries were unable or unwilling to punish people for committing terrorism. The violence touched every part of Russian life. Thousands were killed and many more were robbed or injured in the name of social justice. It was only the quick thinking and resolute policy of Russian interior minister Pyotr Stolypin that ended the bloodshed.
Rather than making the argument to the public that murder was bad and should be punished, Stolypin created special courts for accused terrorists that guaranteed a fast trial and faster execution for people whose substantive guilt was not in dispute. Although these courts offered far fewer legal protections for defendants, and some injustice almost certainly occurred, the special courts indisputably worked.
The violence stopped almost as suddenly as it appeared. Activists who advocated for terrorism were arrested. Politicians who associated with these activists were removed from their positions. Government officials who sympathized with these people lost their jobs. When the legislature tried to block this process, Stolypin dissolved the legislature. There are lots of things that cannot be up for debate in a society, and oftentimes even humoring these discussions creates deadly problems of its own.
As a consequence of liberal domination of the media and other legitimacy-granting institutions, many conservatives feel like they have something to prove. The arguments for liberal policies are often very bad and the people who make them are often very stupid. These ideas don’t hold up to scrutiny, it’s only natural that people will want to dispute them directly. Despite this, the impulse to engage in mutual debate is something that must be resisted at all times.
Make your case to people who you can actually persuade. Don’t give your enemies the opportunity to lie or manipulate public opinion. The process the country is going through today is not a debate, it’s a power struggle. It won’t be settled in the marketplace of ideas, but rather in the real world where organization and will matter more than anything. That’s where the focus needs to be.
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