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Go for Broke Against the Woke

Ron DeSantis's skirmishes against the woke culture engulfing America is more than just a campaign talking point

Photo: AP Images

Sometimes, the best advice is the advice you don’t take. Especially when it’s unsolicited advice from people looking to dance on your political grave.

As Ron DeSantis traverses Iowa and New Hampshire, the early voting states in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, the beat reporters who shadow him are taking literary license to meddle in his campaign. The unanimous contention is that DeSantis will fizzle out like a carbonated beverage left outside on a wilting summer’s day unless he rebrands himself.

Reporters feigned shock that DeSantis didn’t leverage last week’s interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper to tone himself down, but even if they mean well, I question the judgment of anyone who thinks that DeSantis can overtake Donald Trump by impersonating Mitt Romney.

Most Republicans applaud the disruptive brand of politics that Trump brought to the Oval Office and that DeSantis practices and preaches as Florida governor. Fighting Mickey Mouse and Bud Light won’t win him Electoral College votes in liberal New York and California, but his skirmishes against the woke culture engulfing America is more than just a campaign talking point. It’s the essence of what DeSantis believes in.

Campaigning in Iowa last month, DeSantis told NBC correspondent Dasha Burns that the woke culture is “basically a war on the truth.”

“It’s a form of cultural Marxism… that has infected institutions and corrupted institutions,” DeSantis said. “So, you’ve got to be willing to fight the woke. We’ve done that in Florida, and we proudly consider ourselves the state where woke goes to die.”

There’s a lot of well-reasoned research and literature to support DeSantis’s position.

America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything, by Christopher Rufo, rocketed to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list right after it hit bookstores last week. Rufo, who has worked at several conservative think tanks, has spent years attacking critical race theory (CRT), which blames whites for creating a society of oppression. His book traces the roots of the popular leftist ideologies of the last century to Marxist professors and black radical movements. Taking more than a page out of DeSantis’s playbook, Rufo examines why nearly every major US corporation is “bending its knee to a far-left agenda.”

“There is a rot spreading through American life,” Rufo writes. “The country’s foundations are starting to shake loose. A new nihilism [anarchism] is beginning to surround the common citizen in all of the institutions that matter: his government, his workplace, his church, his children’s school, and even his home. He knows we have been given a gift — the American republic — but there is no guarantee that it will last. He can feel it in his bones.

“Nobody voted for this change; it simply materialized from within,” Rufo adds.

Dexter Van Zile, the managing editor of the Middle East Forum’s Focus on Western Islamism, notes that the political left uses similar methodologies to delegitimize both Israel and the West, saying the goal is to “demoralize and disorient” their populations and “render them incapable of defending the political order in which they live.”

In Israel, you don’t have to look any further than the ongoing turmoil over judicial reform to see a prime example of how a combination of leftist political forces marshal their resources to wreak havoc on society. In Israel, the threat is grave, as the dissension poses economic risks to a country that’s overly reliant on the high-tech sector and a security threat to a nation surrounded by enemies within and outside its borders.

According to Rufo, the political right needs nothing less than a counter-revolution, which will educate citizens about the dangers of woke philosophies and mobilize what he calls a vast reservoir of public sentiment against the laws, ideologies, and institutions of the radical left.

“If we are to save this country [the US] from disintegration, we must first see the crisis clearly and confidently. We cannot look away,” Rufo writes. “The question now is which vision of America will prevail and which vision will return into the void.”

This is where Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign can gain traction. Certainly, he needs to convince voters that he has answers to the major pocketbook and personal security issues that concern the average American, and he needs to speak more about the foreign policy experience he gained during three terms in the House of Representatives.

But DeSantis isn’t crying wolf with his anti-woke message, and he has more to lose than gain if he starts showing up at campaign appearances in sheep’s clothing.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 971)

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