Yay team? (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Late Friday, the Ron DeSantis’s extremely online campaign team released a video to contrast the Florida governor’s stalwart bigotry with Donald Trump’s lighter touch and highlight the fact that their candidate stands out as the most hostile to LGBT Americans—in a field that, mind you, also includes Mike Pence.
The ad, which seems to have been originally produced by anonymous Twitter user ProudElephantUS, was repurposed by the “DeSantis War Room” with the following message: “To Wrap up ‘Pride Month,’ let’s hear from the politician who did more than any other to celebrate it…”
The video begins with a sizzle reel of Donald Trump promising to protect LGBT Americans, saying that he doesn’t care what bathroom Caitlyn Jenner uses, telling Barbara Walters that transgender women would be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe contest, and contrasting his views on gays favorably with how the group is viewed by Islamic terrorists.
From there the ad takes a hard turn, with a deep house beat and images that work very hard to depict Ron DeSantis as the country’s most-based, faggot-hating, alpha male. The “pro-”DeSantis portion of the ad compares him to fictional serial killer and cannibal Patrick Bateman, the (purportedly gay) Greek warrior Achilles, and the floating image of the “GigaChad,” a highly photoshopped muscle man.
The ad’s intended message is that, unlike Trump, DeSantis will not show any humanity to gays and will be significantly more effective at targeting LGBT Americans by advancing the most “extreme slate of anti-trans laws in modern history.”
But there is one line from this portion of the video that deserves particular notice.
Mike Figueredo of the Humanist Report is quoted, saying DeSantis “just produced some of the harshest, most draconian laws that literally threaten trans existence” (emphasis added).
It’s important to recognize the context here. This is not one of those clip mashups where MAGA types make fun of hyperventilating lefties making overwrought claims about their opponents. It’s exactly the opposite. This clip is interspersed with shirtless muscled men who are ostensibly there to demonstrate DeSantis’s strength
The whole point of the ad is that DeSantis is tough enough to
and actually target the LGBTs, unlike that cucked Trump who just wants to be loved.
Given that context, the inclusion of Figueredo’s line about how DeSantis’s policies “literally threaten trans existence” is deeply disturbing. That this line would make it into a product put out by one of the leading contenders for the presidency is a scandal. It ought create a total and complete repudiation from the campaign just to have any hope of surviving.
Say what you want about Mitt Romney’s 47 percent gaffe, it pales in comparison to suggesting that you want to pass laws that “literally threaten” the existence of a marginalized class of Americans like it’s a good thing.
In addition to this ad being childish, cruel, and reprehensible on the merits, it’s also political malpractice, even in a GOP primary. Especially for the person who is claiming to run as the “electability” candidate.
Are the voters in the Atlanta suburbs who have abandoned the GOP in droves excited to come back for someone who is running to Trump’s right on anti-gay bigotry? Do you think the McCain/Flake/Ducey voters who rejected creepy Blake Masters in Arizona are going to be interested in supporting someone who compares himself to Patrick Bateman and brags that trans people feel their very existence is threatened by his policies?
I promise you the answer is no.
Despite a disquieting turn in public opinion on trans issues, Americans are not looking for an edgelord Nazi who winks at the radicals hoping to eradicate trans people.
In a just world, DeSantis’s latest attempt to get to Trump’s nutball right would result in a backlash so severe that it eradicates from the GOP primary the notion that there is any purchase in signaling to America that your biggest problem with Trump was that he was just too kind and inclusive.
Alas, I doubt we live in such a world.