Who Is Ron DeSantis?

Ron DeSantis is, of course, the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida.  He was also, until the day after he was nominated, an administrator of the Tea Party Facebook Group.  Other Tea Party group administrators included Corey Stewart, the notorious white supremacist Republican candidate for US Senate from Virginia and Kelli Ward who was John McCain’s Republican primary opponent two years ago.  All three have been endorsed by Donald Trump at one point or another.

Screen shot of a posting on the Tea Party Facebook page in which Maria Rubino-Decowski acknowledges Virginia Republican US Senate candidate Corey Stewart as a group administrator
Facebook Tea Party group acknowledges Corey Stewart as one of its group administrators

The same day that Ron DeSantis made his famous monkey gaffe on Fox TV, DeSantis, Stewart and Ward’s names disappeared from the administrator list, but as you can see, there is ample evidence of their leadership positions within the group.

Screen shot of Tea Party acknowledgement that Ron DeSantis is in fact a group administrator

It is worth looking at some of the Tea Party postings that happened while Ron DeSantis, Kelli Ward and Corey Stewart were group administrators.  Here are some examples of the group’s thoughts about the late Senator John McCain.  You can click on most of these images and go straight to the place on the Tea Party Group Facebook page where you can find the original post and all the comments that Tea Party members have made on that post.

Screen shot of a post in the Tea Party Facebook group.  The post calls the late Senator John McCain a traitor
Ron DeSantis’ Tea Party Facebook group proposed this tombstone for John McCain

Screen shot of a post to the Tea Party Facebook group on August 26, 2018 at 9:12 PM.  The dead rhinoceros is a reference to a derisive term used by right wing extremists -- Republican In Name Only (RINO).  Applying that term ot John McCain gives silly a whole new meaning
RINO means Republican In Name Only

The Tea Party Facebook has some strong opinions about President Barack Obama and his family

Screen shot of a cartoon posted to the Tea Party Facebook group on July 12, 2017.  The cartoon shows a caricature of President Obama being addressed as "boy"
This is one of the group’s cartoons about Barack Obama

Image calls First Lady Michele Obama a man
And this is the group’s comment on the Obama family

A sign written in English and Arabic.  The sign does not appear to say the same thing in both languages.  The English says "Welcome to Kenya, Birthplace of Barack Obama"
and of course, the group has the fairy tale about President Obama’s birthplace

The Tea Party Facebook group that Ron DeSantis administered has opinions about the kids who survived the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

The group had some opinions about the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS

Screen shot of a post to the Tea Party Facebook page on May 18, 2018.  The image shows Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  The Santa Fe road sign is an oblique reference to a right wing conspiracy theory that the Parkland students faked the shooting at their high school
and they have opinions about David Hogg as well

In June of this year, somebody made a crank call to the Broward County Sheriff. They falsely reported that there was an active shooter at David Hogg’s house.  The danger here is that the police arrive at the scene expecting to find an armed bad guy.  Nobody at the house expects police.  It is extremely easy for innocent people to get hurt in such a situation.  The Tea Party group on Facebook postulated that David Hogg called the SWAT team on himself in order to get attention.

Tea Party group opinion of a life threatening false alarm at David Hogg’s house 

Ron DeSantis, the Trump endorsed Republican nominee for Governor of Florida was until just a few days ago, an administrator of the Facebook group that published these posts and a whole lot more.  I think Alan Ehrlich is correct to ask if Republicans know who they nominated.  See Alan’s post  https://www.bluebroward.org/2018/08/30/do-republicans-have-any-idea-who-desantis-is/

The dark passageway

We flew in here blind and I don’t know if there is a pilot to get us out of this mess.

If we were inaugurating a normal right-wing Republican administration, our response would be obvious. We would congratulate the new President, cooperate on issues of agreement, push back where we disagreed, and build for a respectful and successful opposition in 4 or 8 years. This is what we do when the pendulum swings, as it always has, and Americans of different political positions put country above self.

This time is different

Donald Trump is a skillful liar who has shown no regard for the Constitution or the Office of President except as a means of ego gratification and personal enrichment. He has proposed violating the Constitution by revoking citizenship for flag burners, using torture, violating treaties, and enabling politicians to sue newspapers for writing hit pieces. Trump favors eminent domain to seize private property for private use. Trump is using the Presidential transition to strengthen his personal business relationship with foreign governments.

How we got here

Donald Trump skillfully gained votes by openly manipulating and lying on immigration, trade, jobs, and other subjects. Media calling out the torrent of unbelievable lies gave Trump more publicity, and some believed the lies. Trump voters may have seen Trump as the least bad candidate, others may have believed the hollow promise without a plan, to make America “Great Again,” and others may have believed Trump’s constant lies about his opponents and fake news by Macedonian youngsters and elsewhere. This is the reality of the election we just lost but is not the end of the story.

We cannot blame Trump for being Trump, we cannot blame Russian spies for doing what they did to expose Hillary’s secrets, and we cannot blame voters who did the best they could. Those were the circumstances of the election along with decades of stagnating wages, the decline of American civics, and addiction to “reality” TV and dancing with “stars” like Donald Trump. We Democrats failed to deal with those and other early warning signs.

By late 2015, Democrats were aware of the decline in the rust belt, Russian hacking in the election, and Trump’s stoking racist anger over a Black in the White House. A few Democrats sensed arrogance in the “inevitability” of Hillary’s election, but this did not figure in the thinking of those who get paid to win elections.

By August 12, 2016, the specific counties where job loss was connected to support for Trump were spelled out in detail in a 3-page spread starting on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (online the day before). The same day the Washington Post rushed to press with a more nuanced view of the geography of Trumpism and job loss and other variables. Either way, Hillary’s “firewall” was leaking like a sieve and this was public knowledge.

In the summer the end may already have come for Democrats by missing all the early warning signs, but October 7 was the day we fell off the cliff. That day we were emboldened by the Washington Post’s release of the video of Donald Trump’s 2005 lewd conversation about women. Party insiders were overconfident.  Ten days later, Democratic strategist James Carville said the Trump campaign had “died” and “Democrats have a chance to win the whole enchilada,” as part of an effort to shift funds to House and Senate candidates.

The same day Hillary’s campaign manager Robby Mook said, “Donald Trump is becoming more unhinged by the day, and that is increasing prospects for Democrats further down the ballot.” States to which campaign funds were redirected were ones with important Senate races, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, and New Hampshire, five of which Democrats lost. Clinton appeared on October 3 before a crowd of 2,600 in Akron, Ohio, a state she lost by 8.1%, and she appeared on November 2 before a crowd of 10,000+ in Phoenix, Arizona, a state she lost by 3.5%.

We screwed up then and we have an even bigger problem now. To see how we can fix something when we knew or should have known it was broken in the first place, and we did not fix it then, makes me skeptical of easy solutions.

Going forward

Donald Trump may do some good. In an effort to create jobs, he could foster the repair of crumbling infrastructure. In an effort to reduce spending he could insist on higher participation by allies and reduce military empire building. When the new administration discovers that the job losses in the rust belt were due about 85% to automation and 15% to trade with China, they could modify their response. When they realize that more people have been leaving the U.S. for Mexico than the other way around, they may advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. When Trump voters realize in two years that there has been no effective progress in expanding jobs, the new administration may feel the pressure to steer a different course.

Normally when Trump or anyone does something good, common courtesy and trueness to our goals will be to applaud him when he does. But do not be manipulated by someone who grossly disrespects other human beings, does not respect or understand the Constitution, and is a chronic liar. There is a huge disconnect between what Donald Trump says one day and the next. Trump has shown repeatedly that he can change his mind on things. But this does not mean a change in position. When he softens a harsh posture such as on punishing women who have abortions, it should be no comfort. It may be a bargaining position or an attempt to distract us.

Do not listen only to Trump’s total self-contradictions. Listen to the practical inconsistencies. He did not like the War in Iraq (after he did like it) and he did not like results in Libya. So you think he would reduce the threat of war?

No. Trump would undermine NATO, allow more countries to have nuclear weapons, tear up the Iran deal making it more likely that Iran would reach nuclear strike capability, and acquiesce to Russian territorial expansion. None of these are stabilizing actions in a world on edge. Donald Trump, a New Yorker with experience living in the modern age said he had no problem with transgendered people using whichever bathroom in Trump Tower. But he selected Mike Pence for Vice President and Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, neither of whom is a friend of equal rights. So it is right to be skeptical if there is anything good that will come from a Trump Presidency.

The best good to come from a Trump Presidency

The best thing to come from a Trump administration is that he could get locked into a stalemate with the extreme right in Congress. Don’t count on it. There will be some showdowns, but the game of politics for most politicians is survival. Conservatives who think they can tame Trump are in for a bad surprise. Mr. Trump has been inclined to reward cowards and punish those who question his policy, in a surgically effective way, to amass political strength. As President he will have enormous power to use all the levers of the Executive with very little balance of powers.

The worst bad to come from a Trump Presidency

It took 52 days for the Democratically elected government of Germany to pass the Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, after the appointment as Chancellor of Adolph Hitler. The Enabling Act gave total and complete power of government to the Cabinet, in effect the Führer. We must be watchful of any efforts to reduce the power of Congress, including Trump’s desire for term limits. Anything to weaken Congress or the Supreme Court is bad. There is also the troubling area of emergency Presidential power which is not defined in the Constitution but may be necessary for national security, whether or not it is ratified after-the-fact by Congress or the Supreme Court. It is not inconceivable that, if there was another 9/11 attack, the presumptive President-Elect would suspend Civil Liberties.

American Apartheid?

It may be a mistake to focus on Donald Trump. We may have an even bigger and longer term challenge. Due to the Electoral College system and gerrymandering, there has been a deep division in the nation which has given more voting rights, more welfare, and less tax responsibility to Red states.

The U.S. Constitution gives 3 Electoral College votes to 240,809 registered Wyoming voters and 55 votes to 19,411,771 California voters. Constitutional apportionment for President is thus based on the whole number of Wyoming persons and about one fifth of the number of California persons. A California voter gets 23% of the vote of a Wyoming voter.

To make it worse, as pointed out by the New York Times’ Steven Johnson (“Why blue states are the real ‘Tea Party,’” December 3, 2016, New York Times), most of the states that voted for Hillary, “are paying the highest proportion of the country’s bills while ranking lowest in terms of voting power in the Electoral College.”

For example, Blue state New Jersey generated $12,564 in Federal revenue for $9,279 benefits; Red state Alaska generated $6,697 in Federal revenue for $14,375 benefits. Who are the Welfare Queens? The Red states.

Donald Trump got 63 million votes, so barely 19% of America’s 325 million people voted for him and 81% did not vote for him.

How 19% of a Democracy can rule the other 81% needs mathematical explanation. Many people who could have voted did not try to vote, others had been stripped of their constitutional rights due to past crimes which they had repaid, or they were wrongfully denied the right to vote because of flawed purges and draconian voter identification laws. Still others were children and alien residents. But that still means that 19% of Americans are ruling the other 81%, which, when broken out by region, shows the rulers pay less in taxes and get more in welfare in Red states.

In the darkest days of Apartheid in South African, the ratio of those who ruled to those were ruled was 20:80. That was unsustainable. The White Apartheid rulers realized the instability of such a small minority of people ruling such a large majority. Reforms were implemented but too late to stop the rising tide of civil disobedience. Apartheid took over four decades of determined work to abolish. But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Get ready for a long, dark passageway.

A Hillary Landslide The Only Cure For Trump’s Call To Arms

This is the electoral map I want to see on November 8, a decisive verdict that puts the outcome beyond all doubt.


This is the best of the best case scenarios for Democratic victory that political statistician Nate Silver outlined in a recent blog post (although he still also sees scenarios for a Trump victory).

The map doesn’t have to turn quite that blue for Hillary to win, but I’m starting to think it’s nearly the minimum result we have to hope for in the face of Trump’s appeal to “Second Amendment people” and his insistence that the only way he could not win is if the election is “rigged” against him. As cartoonish as this talk is, we can’t laugh it off.

Trump’s Second Amendment comment can be classified as a sort of terrorism, an invitation to any Trump enthusiast who believes “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” with Hillary in the role of tyrant. All it takes is for one unstable person to hear that remark (retroactively labeled “sarcastic”) the wrong way. While some observers have noted Trump was also insulting responsible gun owners, the fringe element does exist. It includes people like Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing. He cited fighting for the rights of gun owners as one of his motivations owned a T-shirt with that Jefferson “tree of liberty quote” and imagery of dripping blood.

Meanwhile, the “rigged election” talk makes a Trump loss almost as scary as a Trump victory, partly because of the incitement to political violence that has been building for months. One reason the Republican #NeverTrump movement failed to stop Trump’s nomination is that people were terrified of the rioting that would result if his followers perceived the nomination had been stolen from him by party insiders. That day of reckoning may only have been delayed, not avoided.

The worst possible result might be a close result on November 8, something akin to the Florida recount disaster in 2000. Imagine the angry old white man reaction to having the Supreme Court hand the presidency to Hillary. I see gunfire and explosions. In fact, any result that comes down to close decisions in one or two states, any hint of voting irregularities (and there are always some) would have a scary aftermath.

No matter what the margin of victory, Trump is likely to claim he was robbed and happily whip his supporters into a dangerous frenzy. At this point, there are a whole lot of people (including the grown ups on the Republican side) wondering if he would rather lose and complain about it than win and have to do the hard work of being president. But theory of the accidental success, or Trump as the campaign equivalent of Springtime for Hitler (see below: “where did we go right?”), has been popular for most of the past year, and it didn’t stop him from winning beyond all expectations and pundit predictions throughout the primaries. He could still win (or come scary close to winning), despite himself.

I’m sorry to be so depressing, but my only point is that no matter how good the polls look for Hillary today, we won’t be able to relax until at least November 9. Let’s all do our part to make sure it’s not close, particularly not here in Florida.