Monday, April 17, 2023
#107 / The DeSantis Model
Ron DeSantis, Florida's Governor, might not run for president next year, appearances notwithstanding. At least, that seems to be the implication of a recent New York Times column by Ross Douthat. Douthat's column is headlined, "Why DeSantis Has to Run Next Year." When newspaper columnists are opining on why a prospective candidate "has" to run, it's obvious that the candidate doesn't, actually, have to do any such thing.
Probably, though, Ron DeSantis will run for president, and if he does, feel free to give the credit to Ross Douthat!
It was another Times column, actually, that most attracted my attention when I read the Sunday edition of The New York Times newspaper on April 16, 2023. That other column, written by Sam Adler-Bell, was titled, "The DeSantis Model." I am citing here to the hard-copy version. Online, as is so often the case, the headline was different.
At any rate, what I first noticed, when I read the Adler-Bell column, was that the campaign "model" that Adler-Bell thinks that Governor DeSantis is following is an "individualistic" model. Without actually saying so, Adler-Bell's column makes clear that DeSantis has likely decided to run for the presidency after consulting with... himself! The campaign - if he runs - begins and ends with HIM, although I do want to provide this caveat: it seems to be accepted within the world of politics that the actual brains behind the DeSantis' campaign is not, so much, Ron DeSantis, but Casey DeSantis, his wife.
My point is that the DeSantis campaign is definitely following an "individualistic" model. An individual, Ron DeSantis, has decided that HE wants to be president (again, let's give some credit to DeSantis' wife). Having made that decision (final or tentative), the individual who has made the decision is then moving ahead to try to forge a winning effort to achieve the goal the candidate has decided upon.
Candidly, this "individualistic" model is the "typical" model. This is certainly the model successfully employed by our former president, Donald Trump. Winning the presidency is an object of personal ambition. The campaign begins with an individual decision, and then either progresses or not.
There is a different "model." The other model is that the campaign does not begin with the candidate's individual decision to try to get elected; it begins with groups of people within the body politic who approach a potential candidate in whom they have confidence, and whom believe might be able to win, and then convince that potential candidate to run, to carry forward an agenda in which they believe. The campaign begins not with an individual, but with groups trying to find someone to represent and carry forward the issues in which they care about.
This doesn't happen too often in American politics, particularly at the highest levels, but it is a different "model." I know about that model from my personal experience on the local level. When I first ran for the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, I did not, myself, formulate the idea that I should. I had absolutely no thought or idea that I should or might run for office. People came and asked me to run. Thus, when I did run, and when I won, the success was not simply my "individual" success, but the success of those who had a specific political aim in view, when they persuaded me to run, to advance it. The victory was a "community" victory, not an "individual" one.
This approach to politics is the opposite of the "DeSantis Model."
I recommend it!