2024 Election

What The Trump Campaign Can Learn From The DeSantis ‘Fusionist’ Approach

As an early supporter of candidate Trump, back in 2016, it was impossible not to appreciate what he was bringing to the public arena — not just in the United States, but in Europe as well. He had an impact that went beyond American shores and inspired a new wave of conservatism, emboldening the so-called forgotten men and women. At certain moments in history, God, fate, or chance cause certain people to take an essential role in shaping the times in which they live. They clearly divide history into two different eras and leave an indelible mark for decades to come. One may not like Donald Trump, or his style, but he made people feel seen and heard, restoring a lost relevance to their vote. 

As a result of a perceived collusion between governments, financial interests and Big Tech, many nations across the West are rising up, voting for the same ideas and principles that the center-right and conservative parties have always defended such as individual freedoms, accountability, free markets, free and fair trade, tradition, culture, border protection and rule of law. They are, however, choosing individuals who are shouting these common sense notions louder than the old polished and well-articulated politicians.

Voting for candidate Trump in 2016 was the defense mechanism of many who were seeing their rights and freedoms eroded and under attack, while the so-called politically correct establishment was ignoring their every plea. I believe this is why Republican voters still stood by the former president.

In my opinion, Governor Ron DeSantis was the most conservative candidate in the race. He has a great record as a Governor of Florida and would have made an incredible president. More importantly, I strongly believed two things about him: First, he could win against any Left-wing candidate in November, something I, as a foreign observer of this election cycle was skeptical the former president could achieve. Secondly, in my view, DeSantis presented an improved Reaganite fusionism that I think is the way forward for conservatism. 

Undeniably, supply-side economic principles have once again turned out to be a recipe for success in Florida, just as they had been during the Reagan administration. Tax cuts, deregulation, balanced budgets, incentives to invest, hire and produce have resulted in freedom, prosperity and expanded opportunities.

On the cultural side, DeSantis has not shied away from fighting against a new reincarnation of the old foe of civilization – communism. Wokeism and cancel culture are two notions that do not manifest in society as a need of the many, but rather an imposition of the few for political and financial gains. His fight to hold accountable those who committed immense injustices during the COVID pandemic is to be commended. 

These policies, some of which candidate Trump had also put forward during his 2016 campaign and had actually enacted in his four-year term, I found lacking in the third bid for the Republican nomination of the 45th president. Now that his main rival has withdrawn from the race, the Trump campaign message needs to change and improve in order to win, reflecting the improved fusionism DeSantis showed could work.

First, any Republican campaign – and as the frontrunner, Trump’s more than anyone’s – should avoid the mistakes of the 2020 campaign, such as giving a free pass to the Left to use all legal mechanism at their disposal, while the GOP did not. If ballot harvesting and mail-in ballots are legal, there is no reason why the Republicans should not make use of them, just as the Democrats do.

Secondly, President Trump needs to appeal to all conservatives, moderates and independents. No one can win an election just by ensuring the base turns out on election day. He ran practically as an incumbent, and his numbers dropped from more than 90% two years ago. First, he needs to unify the Republican Party. Subsequently, the campaign needs to acknowledge they have a problem with suburban areas, with women, and the youth. He needs to run a campaign that is disciplined and on message, also considering the legal troubles the former president faces and their implications.

More importantly, not everybody who disagrees with the former president is an enemy, a RINO, or a sellout. This rhetoric from him and many surrogates does more harm than good, alienates allies and potential supporters – a luxury President Trump does not have. There are so many people waiting for a sign and the chance to support the 45th president. At various times Mr. Trump has shown his presidential side, something the vast majority of the electorate is waiting for.

This brings me to the third element – a unifying conservative platform that inspires, is optimistic and proven to be successful. At the end of the day, each citizen asks how their lives will be better if a politician gets elected, more so when it comes to the president of the United States. Trump needs to articulate ideas that resonate with the vast majority of the people. He needs to make the tax cuts permanent, propose how to eliminate wasteful spending and decrease to a minimum the administrative state and the impact and influence unelected bureaucrats have on each person. Trump needs to lay out a plan how to decrease the public debt and budget deficits. The border needs to obviously be an important issue, with a credible solution. Moreover, he needs to staff his administration with serious, competent people with integrity who will not undermine him every step of the way.

Furthermore, he needs to ensure that what transpired during the COVID pandemic will never happen again. United States Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently stated that “since March 2020, we may have experienced the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country. Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale. Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private. They closed churches, even though they allowed casinos and other favored businesses to carry on. They threatened violators not just with civil penalties but with criminal sanctions too.”

To the shame of not only Americans, but citizens everywhere, individual freedoms were violated with tacit approval from almost all. The few dissenters were silenced, and any discussion was verboten, by a scary coalition of the media, politicians, Big Tech and Big Pharma. This deeply Left-wing — I dare say even socialist — viewpoint was imposed on us all, as we forgot Benjamin Franklin’s warning that “those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. To this very day, no one has been held accountable.

His platform should also include a robust foreign policy. He achieved some great things in his first term. Trump himself said at the beginning of his presidency that America First does not mean America alone. 

To outperform Chinese and Russian advancements in both quantity and quality, America can revert to an updated version of the fusionist principles and policies that proved successful in winning the Cold War and encourage Europe to do so as well. Embracing a principled realism centered on peace through strength is key. To do that, he needs to reform the whole State Department and undo the dangerous influence of radical Left-wing lobbying.

This does not necessitate a binary choice between interventionism and isolationism; rather, a principled realist approach that collaborates with allies, deters adversaries, and aims to maintain the balance of power in the West. Leaders in the United States must navigate the delicate balance between the imperative for American leadership on the world stage and the calls for prudence, transparency, accountability, and improved economic and social policies domestically. America should lead and encourage a coalition of countries each upholding their individual dignity, values, and interests while collaborating on shared objectives.

Not often does one get a second chance at running for president. Donald Trump is getting his third. He can make it a successful, spectacular campaign and an even better term than the previous one. He has the chance to show everyone how successful conservative policies can be, how safe the world is when conservatives run it and inspire a wave of conservative wins throughout the world. If he chooses this path, conservatives and moderates alike will be behind him.

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Nikola Kedhi is an economic expert and financial consultant, a coauthor of the Constitution of the Center-Right Values and a contributor to several media outlets in the US, UK, and Europe. Kedhi’s articles reflect solely his own opinions.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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