When you’re 37 percentage points behind the frontrunner, what else can you do but borrow some of his best lines? “Lock her up” was the chilling anti-Hillary Clinton mantra that took over Donald Trump rallies in 2016, although once he won the election, President Trump admitted that was just for show, he didn’t want to hurt the Clintons.
Resurrecting that oldy-but-goody is another way for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to highlight Trump’s failure to deliver, when it would have been so easy once he was in the Oval Office to make good on his threat to name a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton after he got elected. (Trump even made the threat to her face during the second 2016 presidential debate.)
It’s a curious tribute to Hillary Clinton that she endures as a demonized figure in the right-wing universe, as Trump whines he’s being prosecuted in a partisan witch hunt, and he didn’t even have a server in his basement like Hillary did! Lock her up!!
DeSantis is such a dud on the campaign trail that it’s unlikely he can ride to victory by claiming he’d be tougher on Hillary than Trump. He’s already moved toward attacking Vice President Kamala Harris, mispronouncing her name like it’s too exotic and referring to the “Harris-Biden administration” to feed the notion that this Black woman is about to take over since Biden has already lived beyond his expected actuarial age. It’s pretty savage stuff.
Searching for a way to make his point that Trump is being unfairly prosecuted in multiple indictments, he’s said we don’t want “one side constantly trying to put the other side in jail.” But he can’t help rhapsodizing about “those Trump rallies in 2016” and how “exciting” it was “chanting ‘Lock Her Up’ to put Hillary Clinton in jail.”
How to explain DeSantis? Desperate people do desperate things. When people (and not just politicians) are pushed and under stress, they revert to their comfort zones. And for DeSantis, that means throwing red meat to the base. He’s the king of the anti-woke, tough enough to take on Mickey Mouse and Bud Light. The DeSantis booth at Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner last week featured a tower of Bud Light cans that attendees could knock down with a ball.
Does DeSantis really have that much animosity toward the parent corporations of these popular brands, Disney and AB InBev? Or is he doing it for political expediency in a Trumpified GOP that sees elites everywhere, the same way the late, disgraced Sen. Joe McCarthy once imagined communists in every nook and cranny.
Either way—whether he’s a true believer or an opportunistic imposter—it’s not working for DeSantis.
Trump crushes him in every measurable group in the latest New York Times-Siena College poll. Suburban women with college degrees or blue-collar women without college degrees, they prefer Trump by a wide margin. Whatever their age, gender, or geographic location, Republican voters want the real thing, not some Florida knockoff.
Riffing on Hillary is yesterday’s news and sadly something to be expected, but taking on Vice President Harris by slyly mocking her name is racist and sexist and xenophobic. It’s the trifecta, three hits with one slur.
The Republican Party has been successful since 1980 with racially tinged wedge issues, which brought a sizable chunk of their base. They’re watching it slip away, replaced with voters who don’t like anybody picking on some demographic slice of the population.
The numbers are stunning.
In the eight years between Trump’s election in 2016 and the 2024 election, 32 million Generation Z voters will have become eligible voters. This generation is concerned about equity, diversity, and inclusion, which DeSantis is trying to stamp out. And this generation votes at higher levels than previous generations at the same stage of life. During the same eight years from 2016 to 2024, some 20 million older Americans have died, taking their biases with them.
Somebody like DeSantis can’t imagine a world where these racist and sexist appeals don’t work. He’s never been in a real fight. When Trump says he created him, it’s one of the rare times Trump is telling the truth. A grateful DeSantis did an ad showing him building a wall out of blocks with his kids, teaching his daughter to say, “You’re fired,” and giving his infant son a red “Make America Great Again” onesie.
Once elected governor and then re-elected by a wide margin, DeSantis had a gerrymandered legislature that did whatever he wanted. A spate of anti-woke, anti-abortion, and pro-gun legislation followed. He’s waging a 1980 war of wedge issues in 2023. They’re not enough in a primary, and they would doom anybody not named Trump in 2024.
Bottom line: DeSantis will do whatever he thinks might work to preserve his presidential bona fides, and it’s amazing that Republicans still get a kick out of hazing Hillary. After the 2016 election Trump told an enthusiastic crowd, “That plays great before the election. Now, we don’t care, right?”
His voters disagreed. A HuffPost/YouGov survey found that 68 percent of Trump voters wanted the president-elect to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton.
Imagining Hillary Clinton behind bars must do for the right what imagining Trump in an orange jumpsuit does for Dems—and if that’s the jackpot then, measured by indictments, Dems are a lot closer than the Hillary haters to realizing their dream.