If you watched a Ron DeSantis debate this year, you wouldn't understand the hype he received. He may have gotten his start with Trump, but he doesn't have a Trump stage presence. Many critics dub him “low-energy Trump” for his conversational tone. Does DeSantis have what it takes to be America First?

To be America First is to get on stage and tell the truth loud enough so everyone can hear it. It means putting Americans before the ESG financiers, the “you can't say that” media outlets, and our rigged system of government. For too long, expert PR campaigns that obfuscate the truth have brainwashed Americans on both sides. Trump told us the truth whether we liked it or not. When the media is full of the same static noise, the only way to get to the truth is to go on stage and shout, “America First!” Yet when we picture the person doing that, we do not think of DeSantis.

DeSantis couldn't have started the MAGA movement — an energized populist movement of all types, from disaffected liberals and centrists to right-leaning libertarians and Republicans. Such a movement is a far cry from DeSantis, who has little media presence and little to say, unlike Trump's rallies.

Even more worrisome are the people hawkishly surrounding DeSantis. When Trump announced his candidacy in 2022, conservative media began trotting Ron as the replacement for The Don, with RINOs, from Paul Ryan to Jeb Bush, backing DeSantis. One of DeSantis' most prominent donors, Ken Griffin, has been vocally anti-Trump, going so far as to say he supports DeSantis because the Florida governor will “blunt the vein of populism that has complicated the party’s relationship with the corporate world.” DeSantis has also praised the Ukrainian resistance to Russia's invasion, signaling he may align more with the neocon establishment than America Firsters.

These issues are alarming. To be America First, we can't have a leader willing to sell out voters and start wars for donor money and political power. Many of us loved Trump for his raw, authentic energy and attacks on the establishment, both of which DeSantis lacks. If someone as outspoken as Trump ended up siding with the establishment — endorsing Kevin McCarthy for a speakership from the beginning and praising the COVID-19 vaccine to this day — can we expect anything different from DeSantis? DeSantis is even quieter and more docile than Trump: how could he do what Trump couldn't do?

While this is cause for concern, DeSantis has undoubtedly proven his worth as governor. From requesting a grand jury to investigate COVID-19 vaccines to signing the Parental Rights in Education Act, he has turned Florida into a haven for sanity. No conservatives, even the always-Trumpers, doubt his success as governor.

Ultimately, actions speak louder than words. Time will tell if DeSantis has what it takes to lead a movement — and there are warning signs already. But there is hope that the criticism is close-minded and that DeSantis will emerge as the next face of the conservative movement.

The views expressed in this article solely represent the author's views and not necessarily College Dissident's.

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