Opinion | ‘Ron DeSantis Has a Jekyll and Hyde Persona’: Our Columnists and Writers Weigh In on His Candidacy

French Ron DeSantis has a Jekyll and Hyde persona. He ran an extremely MAGA first campaign for governor, then governed as Dr. Jekyll, squarely in the mainstream. Even his divisive Covid response was within the norms for Southern G.O.P. governors. Then, as his star rose, Mr. Hyde emerged, and he began to run to the edge of the populist G.O.P., trying to outflank Trump from the right. He’s now the avatar of a more authoritarian G.O.P., eager to wield state power against his ideological enemies, often in unconstitutional ways.

Goldberg Of all the Republican candidates, DeSantis is the most likely to govern as an American Viktor Orban. He’s been relentless and at times very effective — — despite his Twitter broadcast — in using the power of the state to persecute his enemies and impose his ideology. A DeSantis presidency would represent a more orderly and disciplined kind of authoritarianism than we saw with Trump.

Gray His vision is an America under dire threat from woke teachers and Disney. He’s spent his time as governor engaged in emotionally charged culture war by wielding executive power (with the assistance of a Republican legislature) — something that raised his profile in the conservative media.

Mangu-Ward I love to hear a candidate talk about freedom, but it would be more exciting if I believed his policies would match his rhetoric. For someone who has a lot to say about liberty, DeSantis has scored his biggest hits on the national scene in an overwhelmingly authoritarian vein — book bans, border walls, punishments for dissenting speech, restriction on the internal policies of private companies and more.

McCarthy Higher education wields enormous power over American life but is disproportionately the preserve of a single party and political outlook. DeSantis has a vision of greater representation, balance and intellectual diversity in Florida’s universities, and ultimately America’s. It’s an inspiring vision that shifts conflict from the culture, and all its private and public institutions, back to the realm of ideas. More ideological balance on campus means more of it in corporations, journalism and beyond.

Stephens DeSantis minus the bombast could be an effective governor, never more so than when he defied conventional wisdom and required public schools to open up in the fall of 2020. But his pinched view of democracy — whether it comes to freedom of speech, abortion rights or the importance of supporting Ukraine in its struggle for survival — disqualifies him as someone I could think of supporting.

Brooks Many fast-growing states are run by Republicans — Texas, Georgia, Florida. Florida has passed New York in population, Miami is becoming a tech hub, times are good. We need a president who has a record of economic success, not someone a majority of Americans have already rejected.

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