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  • Writer's picturethinkoutsidepoliti

Two Visions for the Republican Party

People often accuse Ron DeSantis of being like Donald Trump on policy but without Trump’s controversial personality. Although Trump and DeSantis agree that the Republican establishment has failed, they have different visions for the future of the Republican Party. Where DeSantis proposes adjustments on economics and foreign policy, Trump advocates for fundamental change. For conservatives who recognize that the old establishment has failed on every front, Trump should be their first choice in the primary.

Trump is the only candidate who offers an alternative to the free trade establishment that has deindustrialized America. In his speech to striking autoworkers in Michigan, he laid out his plan to restore economic nationalism that protects American labor and industry. To rebuild American manufacturing, Trump will impose a 10% universal baseline tariff on most foreign imports. These tariffs would allow American manufacturers to compete with cheap foreign labor by rewarding domestic production and taxing foreign production. Trump’s protectionist policies will revive forgotten communities by bringing back the factories that built them.

DeSantis's economic views are closer to the establishment’s free trade agenda than Trump's pro-worker agenda. Although DeSantis has adopted Trump's goal to reshore industry, he still supports the same failed establishment trade policies that caused manufacturers to leave in the first place. In response to Trump's tariffs on China, DeSantis said, "I’m not somebody that advocates tariffs. I want to have lower barriers, and I want to have free trade." While in Congress, DeSantis voted for Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. Unsurprisingly, tariffs are absent from DeSantis's economic plan. 

Unlike national conservatives such as Josh Hawley and JD Vance, DeSantis has not fought alongside Trump in reforming the GOP into a protectionist party. DeSantis did break from the establishment in his fight against Disney, but all he has accomplished is removing a tax incentive. In most cases, DeSantis is an ally to the free trade establishment and economic libertarians. Reshoring manufacturing jobs is the right goal, but Trump is the only candidate with a plan that can deliver that goal.

Both candidates share a lot of common ground on social issues. Trump has the best conservative policy record of any President since Reagan. DeSantis portrays himself as more socially conservative than Trump, but his policies are similar to Trump’s. The few differences they have revolve around what social issues they emphasize.

Trump’s greatest conservative victory is the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. Millions of lives will be saved thanks to Trump. Unfortunately, polls show that most people oppose the abortion bans that Republicans are trying to pass. However, Trump’s new plan to ban late-term abortion is supported by a majority of voters. In a time when many abortion bans are failing, Trump's gradual abortion restrictions are the best path forward for the pro-life movement. DeSantis also supports federal abortion bans, but Trump is the only one with a proven record of achieving pro-life victories at the national level.

Trump has unique and creative solutions to social problems like the decreasing population, the rise of transgenderism, the surge in illegal immigration, and the decline of American cities. To reverse falling birth rates, Trump supports baby bonuses for young parents and an initiative to make cars and houses cheaper. His solution to the broken education system includes a parental bill of rights, promoting patriotic values, and restoring prayer in schools. Furthermore, Trump will sign laws that stop schools from teaching transgender ideology and encourage schools to promote the nuclear family. He will also ban the sexual mutilation of children in all 50 states.

Trump promises to finish the wall started during his first term and carry out the largest deportation of illegal aliens in American history, reversing the surge of illegal immigration during the Biden administration. Trump will end the addiction crisis in America by blocking the importation and production of dangerous drugs and increasing resources to help those with drug addictions. To improve cities, Trump will launch a national city modernization and beautification campaign. The campaign will remove ugly buildings, promote traditional American architecture, clean up the streets, and build more parks.

The last significant difference between Trump and DeSantis is foreign policy. Since Trump entered politics, he has transformed the Republican Party from the party of war to the party of peace. Trump's foreign policy is pursuing peace through strength and diplomacy. During his first term, he defeated ISIS, brought peace to the Middle East, and started no new wars. He was the first leader to support a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine. He will use American influence to bring both sides to the negotiating table. Unlike some war hawks in the Republican establishment, he is not interested in starting a cold war with Russia or China. Ending American dependence on China does not require making China an enemy.

Although DeSantis supports a strong military, he does not seek a diplomatic relationship with America’s rivals. Throughout his campaign, he has aligned himself with hawks who support a second Cold War. Elbridge Colby, one of DeSantis’s foreign policy advisors, argues that we should prepare for war with China over Taiwan. The most concerning part of DeSantis’s foreign policy is his indecisive views on the war in Ukraine. DeSantis has flip-flopped multiple times between supporting escalating and de-escalating the war. What is clear is that DeSantis would increase tensions with Russia. He calls Russia a gas station with nuclear weapons and Putin a war criminal who should be held accountable. The foreign policy establishment has more influence over DeSantis than he has over the establishment.

Ron DeSantis is not Donald Trump without his personality. Trump is an economic nationalist and a foreign policy realist, whereas DeSantis holds pro-establishment views on economics and foreign policy. DeSantis offers a moderate revision of the outdated GOP platform of economic libertarianism, interventionism, and conservatism. Trump offers a new party vision of economic nationalism, America first foreign policy, and social conservatism that emphasizes family and community. DeSantis's establishment-friendly policies are insufficient to solve the problems facing Americans today. Conservatives should vote for Trump and his socially conservative, pro-worker, and pro-peace vision of the Republican Party.


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