Opinion | Politics

How Ron DeSantis Nuked His Presidential Chances

DeSantis shot at the presidency sinks with his new hardline stances.

Joe Duncan
5 min readJan 19, 2023

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Ron DeSantis — The Man of Many Faces, by Joe Duncan: Source photos: U.S. Government, Gage Skidmore, edited; Creative Commons 2.0 & public domain licenses

Ron DeSantis is a man of many faces.

I watched Ron DeSantis evolve. In early 2020, when the pandemic was first unfolding, DeSantis was a different man.

I remember when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in early 2020. I would be working out in the gym while I listened to Governor DeSantis speak directly to Floridians.

Back then, I found myself constantly thinking, “I’m so glad this guy is in charge. He’s embracing the science — he cares about the vaccine, unlike most other Republicans out there. He’s going to help Florida get through this.”

DeSantis on COVID-19

It was an uncertain time then, but DeSantis took numerous smart steps to help Floridians feel more secure as the new pandemic swept the country.

He was openly confident in our ability to get working vaccines deployed. He supported making sensible lockdown and masking decisions, saying we would combat the virus with all the collective strength and self-sacrifice we could muster.

In early 2021, the Governor didn’t mince words, saying:

“If you are vaccinated — fully vaccinated — the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from Covid is effectively zero. These vaccines are saving lives.”

For DeSantis, this was a simple political calculation.

In a state with a massive elderly population like Florida, DeSantis couldn’t afford to make the same mistakes as former New York Governor Cuomo with his nursing home scandal or take the nonchalant approach of Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, who openly balked at the idea of doing much of anything important to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Initially, DeSantis listened to the experts. He reassured us we would get financial relief (that never came). He told us that science, progress, and liberalism had our backs and that we would get through the worst of times together.

That feels like a lifetime ago.

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Joe Duncan

I’ve worked in politics for thirteen years and counting. Editor for Sexography: Medium.com/Sexography | The Science of Sex: http://thescienceofsex.substack.com