In spite of the evidence that Russia’s aggressive war with Ukraine is accompanied by documented war crime, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis categorized it as a “territorial dispute”. We can pigeon-hole his comments as a display of ignorance and a lack of humanity, but many of DeSantis’ supporters back his views and will say that, if he “misspoke” as a state governor, his unfamiliarity with matters of foreign policy should be excused.
Frankly, if you’ve been to Florida met many of Florida's residents, particularly from DeSantis’ Republican base, you would not be surprised by his attitude.
DeSantis has not yet formally announced that he will run for the Republican nomination. He is nevertheless already unofficially campaigning against, perhaps, the most primitive former U.S. incumbent ever and trying to appeal to that same “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) base of voters. His recent, purported, views on Ukraine are supported by a number of Putin “acolytes” including Tucker Carlson, the conservative political commentator, Tulsi Gabbard, a right-wing former Congresswoman and other fellow- travelers.
In 2014, when a Congressman, DeSantis was critical of President Obama for his failure to act against Russia's aggression in Crimea and the Donbas. His present posture is another example of the political expediency, political amnesia and a lack of integrity that will appeal to the “Trumpshevik” base which makes up almost 50% of the Republican party.
DeSantis behavior is symptomatic of the current U.S. political climate. He is an unprincipled politician within a party that relies upon the support of an electorate that is increasingly accused of being devoid of principles or morality. After all, he is vying for the leadership of a party where the current de facto leader may be indicted for crimes well before the election but promises to run irrespective, and who is currently being accused of malfeasance by a former pornographic actress. What a country!
If Ukrainian Americans Republican supporters, of which there are many in Florida, have any remaining dignity they should immediately take DeSantis to task. He will play up to them for the sake of their support. It is obvious that DeSantis has no really strong feelings on this issue and, if he changes his position to appease his Ukrainian American electorate, at least he will stay with it until it next becomes expedient to change.
Whether we like it or not, President DeSantis will never be as supportive of Ukraine as President Biden has been. Ron DeSantis is a viable presidential contender and, at least he is significantly more astute, better educated and, perhaps, more principled and morally composed than his predecessor.
We have to hope for the best for Ukraine in 2024. Some commentators say the best scenario will be for Trump to be disbarred, for DeSantis to return to Tallahassee and Joe Biden re-elected. In the meantime, Ukrainian American Republicans need to step up and engage with Ron DeSantis so that he can be re-educated in the realities of Ukraine and the threats Russia poses.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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