It’s official. Ron DeSantis has entered the 2024 presidential race.
The launch was a mess. Twitter servers couldn’t handle the traffic, and that is a reflection on the campaign and its planning.
Some of the more thoughtful post-analysis came from women on the right. Megyn Kelly was searing and unmerciful. Peggy Noonan was gently critical, reminding that Kamala Harris had the best candidate launch in 2020 and soon had to drop out.
The DeSantis launch snafus won’t matter.
By Friday morning over 9 million people had watched the launch video and the candidate announced he had raised $8.2 million in the first 24 hours. By comparison, Trump raised $9.5 million in the first six months of his 2024 campaign.
The way to measure Ron DeSantis is not his pratfalls, not his polls, not the underwhelming electricity he generates in retail politics and campaign rallies.
The way to measure DeSantis is fear.
The left and right fears a DeSantis win
No politician this cycle excites more fear in his rivals left or right than DeSantis. They aggressively attempted this past year to snuff out his presidential ambitions before they ever reached the starting line.
That fear is a deepening shadow that has entered the doors of the New York Times and the Washington Post and down the halls of the Democratic National Committee.
It has taken up residence in the presidential suite at Mar-a-Lago and haunts the salons of the #NeverTrump wing of the GOP.
It is unmistakable and all-consuming.
And that is why no candidate in the 2024 race has been attacked more ruthlessly this year than DeSantis.
It's not banned books. It's about his brain
Vanity Fair recenlty ran the headline: “Ron DeSantis Will Formally Announce His 2024 Bid With Elon Musk Because Apparently David Duke Wasn’t Available.”
That’s not just insanity from a magazine that used to shimmer with sophistication.
The left will tell you they fear DeSantis because he wants to ban books and whitewash history. That he is homophobic and authoritarian. That he is, in a word, semi-fascist.
But that’s not why.
They fear DeSantis because he is smart and tenacious and his credentials are impeccable — U.S. military, Harvard Law and Yale University.
As governor he turned Florida from a battleground state into a solid bulwark of Republican red.
Democrats fear him because he's not Trump
They hate him because he answered the culture war the liberals started when they corrupted our universities and public schools and even corporate boardrooms with their oppressed-oppressor ideology and identity politics.
They hate him because he uses their instrument, the government, to beat back their madcap social doctrines.
And they especially hate that he is not Trump.
Arizona or Florida? GOP faces a stark choice about its future
They hate that he does not have the emotional maturity of an adolescent boy. That he reads books and devours scientific studies. That he can master facts and fashion policy.
They know he can express grace, as when he brought together Republicans and Democrats to comfort families of the nearly 100 people who died in the Surfside Condominium collapse.
DeSantis is not just a one-trick pony
They know he cares about the environment and about the Indigenous people in Florida at the same time he battles the cultural revolutionaries who try to indoctrinate children in the public schools.
And when the deadliest hurricane in 87 years struck Florida, they saw DeSantis dispatch convoys of utility trucks to get the power back on before anyone missed the next episode of “Ted Lasso.”
Back then, Democrats laughed at DeSantis in his white shrimp boots. But it was nervous laughter.
They feared, and still do, his competence. His tenacity. They know he can win.
They may deny it.
But they've really put only one Republican in their crosshairs this past year. For months they have made daily runs over the governor's mansion in Tallahassee, carpet bombing DeSantis with their scare headlines.
Democrats wouldn't fear a real fascist
If a real fascist like David Duke ran for the Republican primary, the Democrats wouldn’t fear him. They’d finance him in hopes he’d represent Republicans in the general election.
They financed Trump candidates all across America in 2022.
The hardcore left fears DeSantis, but they’ll never truly understand him because they believe Republicans started the current culture war.
They live in denial that their lockdown policies kept children from their classrooms and destroyed small businesses during the pandemic.
The tide is turning, and that scares people
They're can barely comprehend that they turned great American cities into knock-offs of the Third World.
They’re also in denial that the tide is turning. That the woke wave that broke over this country is now riding out because Americans are, frankly, sick of it.
Riding in is a no-nonsense Florida conservative who won’t flinch at the job before him, and who could very well be the next president.
So yes, the left is afraid. And their fear is well-founded.
Email Phil Boa, an editorial columnist with The Arizona Republic, at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Ron DeSantis could win in 2024. You can already smell the fear