Mar 21·edited Mar 21Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Trump very rarely appeared publicly with children. He is not good with them, and seems to hardly notice even his youngest, Barron. I remember the horror of watching Trump and his wife touring a children's hospital after a mass shooting, and how he posed next to Melania holding a baby whose parents died from being shot to death shielding their baby from gunfire. Trump was beaming, oblivious to the tragedy. Trump is a sociopath and toxic narcissist whose need to be loved has been the only brake system keeping him from becoming a DeSantis type. Should DeSantis become president, he'll make Trump look like a joke. Greed motivates evil acts, but ideology is deadly.


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Mar 21Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

My Twitter feed is jam packed with pundits who are writing, or have written, DeSantis off.

I'm happy that at least some serious people are not so easily fooled.

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Can a candidate for President be elected without charisma?

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Mar 21·edited Mar 21Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

If you're Joe Biden running for President in 24, who would you rather run against; Trump or DeSantis? I would rather run against the charismatic, twice impeached, coup attempting, indicted former President Trump. The much younger but charasmatic-less DeSantis would be a significantly harder candidate to beat in the general.

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Yes I've noticed the Instagram infiltration for about a year now. I think his PR team works directly with meme guys on IG to get them to give him exposure and make him look like a tough guy. I started doing some digging and realized that DeSantis trolls are ALL OVER Instagram and they are busy gaining young people as his followers. This is a definite strategy to go after young inexperienced people who may think he's cool b/c he tries to humiliate Disney and does "tough guy stuff". You can see below his posts or posts about him just a flurry of robotic comments about how awesome he is, DeSantis is the best, DeSantis 2024 and they're typically what appear to be young people. I've been very happy to see growing counter-offensive of pages dedicated to laying out the truth on him showing up in Reels so anyone can see them.

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Mar 21Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Fantastic insights as usual, thank you!

That video of the hand gestures is just stunning. He is obviously emulating Trump as much as he wants to separate himself from him. It appears thats a large part of DeSantis national appeal today - many seem willing to look past his problematic leadership because he seems a capable conservative who is not named Trump.

We can’t let anyone forget DeSantis riding Trump’s coattails. This 2018 campaign video is especially ugly and problematic for DeSantis today:


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One question I struggle with - if forced to choose between DeSantis and Trump, who would I choose? Who is more dangerous?

I had been pretty settled on the idea DeSantis is a sneakier, therefore more dangerous fascist. He doesn’t appear such a bumpkin or so obviously horrible as a person and garners support from more of the business leadership community that did not wholly support Trump.

But perhaps his lack of charisma erodes some of that danger? DeSantis seems every bit as vicious and morally vacant as Trump. But maybe without the charisma, he is less likely to avoid accountability for abuses? I dunno.

Do you have an opinion Ruth? Thanks again.

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Gen Z is a growing and impressive force in Florida and the rest of the United States. Maxwell Frost (Florida’s 10th Congressional District) and the first Gen Z in Congress, calls Ron DeSantis "the greatest threat to democracy in the United States." Frost also says that DeSantis “is abusing his power and using the state to target political opponents and political enemies. There’s a word for that, and it’s fascism”……… “there’s a new victim, a new bill, every day.”

Interestingly the guest essay to Lucid from a few days ago put gentrification and wokeness together for an overall analysis and understanding of a changing process in the United States. In addition, when reading the guest essay it came to me that there is a “generational” (and perhaps educational) aspect also needed in this analysis.

I think there is probably no straightforward or uncomplicated antonym for “gentrification.” Deteriorating? Declining? Racist term? It appears to me that gentrification is more of a wealth or prosperity concept but with racist underpinnings of which the guest essayist alludes, and thus what does that have to do with “wokeness”? Unless it is just the racist aspect that is the connection.

Anyway, thinking about the inclusion of “generations,” it has been my experience as a college instructor and parent that millennials and Gen Zs are really quite similar in terms of “wokeness” or social awareness, open-mindedness, and concern for social injustice. We sometimes hear about the “micro generation” from early 1990s to early 2000s……or zillennials (zennials) born on the edge of millennials and Gen Zs. My daughter who is in this group just graduated from medical school “matching” last week into a pediatrics residency at “Brooklyn Hospital Center.” Brooklyn was mentioned in the guest essay of a few days ago as a changing process/environment to a sort of new wave gentrification with more open neighborhoods and greater outdoor spaces and is also “still-waking” if we bring in more than just her generation into this analysis.

I think Gen Z is going to give DeSantis and more of the United States some increasingly expanding definitions of wokeness and democracy in just a short while.

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At 77 I will probably miss the worst of the current and future attacks from our authoritarian citizens…but maybe not(?)… although I believe their efforts will have success I am not sure how much or how fast…democracies can be sluggish…. I am not sure they will be able to respond quickly and intelligently enough to avoid serious damage….as the song says, I see a bad moon rising…M

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Mar 21Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Thank you, as usual, for expanding our understanding of the autocratic phenomenon.

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Mar 21Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Thank you for this essential piece on this horrible person.

Just recently this cinder block disowned his own home state for some kind of neo-Völkischism he called his very own 'western Pennsylvania' culture.

Well f##k him!

I'm from central PA and we call that dumbass-ery "Pennsyl-tucky".

You see, once you "go South" of the Ohio and stay, that fascist bullshit cargo is on a ONE WAY ticket FOB. There's no crossing back up north to sell some corn-pone Copperhead neo-Confederate fascist whispering. The stench still clings. And PA wants no part of you (talking to you too 'Johnny' Doug Mastriano).

So, Man of the people. Ha!

Man of the bakers. Ha Ha.

Man of the restaurants. Ha Ha Ha!

"Smiling his lizard smile". Almost fell on the floor!

This Dough-face schmuck deserves all the scorn, ridicule and genuine ribaldry decent people can serve.

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NBC Universal trained Trump well. He's used it to gain total control of a political party. De Santis has a glass jaw, and Trump knows it. I'm afraid that he'll get the Republican nomination. The DOJ needs to get its shit together and put him and ALL of his accomplices in prison.

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1 of 4 ~

I would have suggested editing the title of Ruth’s lucid piece, as follows:

“Ron DeSantis, Devoid of Charisma, Builds a Fascist Cult on Instagram: Do you need charisma to succeed as [an American fascist]? Not always. ”

I respectfully take exception with Ruth’s comment: “… Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, … is laboring to construct a personality cult …” I don’t get the impression that DeSantis is ‘laboring’ while following the fascist playbook in Florida, with the intent of imposing it on the U.S. as president. In fact, he seems to be doing his evil deeds with little effort and even less pushback.

As to “… DeSantis’s seeming desire to turn Florida into a replica of [fascist] Viktor Orbán's illiberal Hungary …” I would argue that his ‘seeming desire’ is overt, not seemingly; his ‘desire’ for Florida has been mostly satiated. He is now targeting the U.S. where he seeks to impose Orbán’s Hungarian fascist dictatorship.

I’m reluctant to use the Orwellian euphemisms, including “illiberal.” I fact, I cringe. Aren’t both Orbán and Hungary fascist?

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2 of 4 ~

We’re witnessing former First Lady Michelle Obama’s influence still lingering. She urged, “When they go low, we go high.” Behind the scenes, however, she was complicity, going so low as to condone her husband’s leadership of a death squad that murdered people from afar.

We may feign reluctance to utterance of the ‘f’ word, it is alive and well in America, but it drives much of our dastardly domestic and foreign policies. In the meantime, we’re complicit when seeking to avoid offending fascist sociopaths by using pc jargon that pleases the educated and monied elite.

The GOP, however, cleverly and ominously addresses the alienated, marginalized and less educated masses. Note DJT’s tortured syntax.

Through repetition we learn some words are acceptable. Lack of usage, discourage usage. We hear and read, ad nauseam, fascist thugs referred to as strongmen, authoritarians, illiberals, conservatives, right-wing, ultra right-wing, White Christians, (unChristian?,) autocrats, etc.

In the most recent essay,

the American fascist threat was raised just once, echoing Jason Stanley—as if an afterthought.

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3 of 4 ~

I’m grateful for Ruth’s 12/7/22 essay: “What is fascism?” It referred to Robert Paxton’s long-winded definition. That definition is worthy of revisiting, not of being slighted and trivialized. Our current existential threats and agnosognosia, an inability to recognize one’s disease, is a fascist pandemic suffered collectively by our species.

Ruth referred to Robert Paxton’s 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism. His definition is worth revisiting, but I hesitate repeating. His work seemed trivialized, to my chagrin: “[Paxton] line of thought risks emptying the term of its historical specificity but is essential for understanding our new authoritarian [fascist] age and the risks we face in America today” (Lucid, 12/7/22.)

We need solidarity now more than ever. Splitting hairs risk division, instead.

In order to defeat the enemy we must be able to identify it. We need one word and that word is ‘fascist,’ and its various permutations.

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4 of 4~

Also worthy of discussion, for another time and place, is the fascist Hatred Other. While indulging in anthropocentric hubris, we overlook the fascist contempt for Nature, wrongly limiting this fascist element. As Ruth likes to say, I place this topic under our (collective) radar.


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