Ron DeSantis is officially running to be the next president of the United States in the 2024 elections, and he chose to announce the fact in the most fitting way possible. DeSantis has proven himself to be the epitome of the new right-wing, opposing “woke” ideas and the teaching of critical race theory, pushing anti-LGBTQ+ agendas, and generally attempting to out-Trump Trump. One area that Trump really had DeSantis beat was in the social media game, so DeSantis’ latest ally in his bid for the presidency makes a depressing amount of sense.
If one man has stood up for anti-woke ideals and railed against the entire concept of pronouns while benefitting from a family fortune drawn from slave labor usage in an emerald mine, it’s Elon Musk. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that DeSantis chose to join Elon Musk in a Twitter Space to announce his run for the presidency. While Musk claims that this is not an official endorsement of DeSantis as a candidate and might be seen as a desperate attempt to get more people on to Twitter (and to care about Twitter Spaces), it certainly feels like an endorsement, especially given that Musk said he would support DeSantis in a presidential run all the way back in November 2022.
Why Elon Musk & Ron DeSantis Are Perfect For Each Other
DeSantis and Musk have a lot in common when it comes to their values, but for reasons that will become clear, it’s important to focus on how the two come together over their hatred of the LGBTQ+ community. Musk’s vitriol towards the queer community became apparent back in 2020 when he started to tweet such deep and meaningful comments as “Pronouns Suck.” This seems to have led to an eventual breakdown of his relationship with Grimes, who has expressed feelings of being gender-neutral in the past.
Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter, there has been a sharp rise in hate speech on the platform, all defended under the vague notion of “free speech” with little to no consideration of what the rest of the First Amendment actually says. This led to Musk being called out for allowing an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ slurs with no follow-up action. The apparent courting of the right-wing and the openness to hate speech on the platform has led some to label Twitter as a far-right platform similar to Truth Social or Parler. With all of this, the platform that once managed to ban Trump (at least for a while) is now the perfect bedfellow for DeSantis and his hate-fueled campaign.
How Ron DeSantis Became The Poster Child For Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate
While DeSantis has been in the news for his anti-LGBTQ+ legislation at various points in the last couple of years, it might not be clear just what those policies mean and how far they stretch. For a long time, the right-wing political sphere has been dominated by stoking fear of others. Once, this meant communists and (specifically) the Russians, more recently it was the argument over same-sex marriage and the push for marriage equality. With Trump’s 2020 loss to Biden, the Republican Party seemed to realize that right-wing Americans just weren’t as angry about marriage equality as they once were and that they needed a new target. They’d tried trans bathroom bills in the past and managed to get some traction with those, so their next step was a logical choice.
2021 saw a record-breaking rise in anti-trans bills as the Republican Party adopted it as the new cause to rile up their voter base. Many of these bills were spread across the USA from templates built by right-wing hate groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and The Heritage Group. Since 2021, those hate groups have found a new place to test their anti-LGBTQ+ legislation: Florida and the desk of Ron DeSantis. If it’s unclear just how homophobic and transphobic Ron DeSantis’ platform is already, here’s a quick rundown of some of his actions, the bills he’s signed, and the causes he’s supported.
Ron DeSantis’ Recent Anti-LGBTQ+ Actions
In May 2022, DeSantis signed into law HB 1557, which you probably know as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. All by itself, that set about turning Florida schools into unwelcoming and unsafe environments for LGBTQ+ students. While the original bill only affected grades K-3, in 2023 DeSantis signed an expansion to the bill to change that to K-12. As well as working to shut down any understanding of queer gender and sexuality, DeSantis signed a bill restricting gender-affirming care for trans youth that goes against the best practices established by most US medical associations. Furthermore, the man campaigning to be president at the head of the party of small government and free speech has signed bills like the “Stop Woke Act” that work to prevent diversity training from taking place (fortunately this is currently blocked by the courts for violating free-speech protections).
While DeSantis’ bills sadly fit with the current climate among right-wing lawmakers to push against drag shows and to paint gender-affirming care as mutilation, DeSantis wants to take things a step backward as well. In May 2023, DeSantis refused to declare support for maintaining marriage equality and has said there is no need for The Respect for Marriage Act.
In much of his work, DeSantis and his network have partnered with groups like Moms for Liberty and the social media user LibsofTikTok. DeSantis has been supported by the work of groups like this as they peddle disinformation about his bills and the reality of LGBTQ+ lives. This list could go on forever, as we haven’t even mentioned the mass book bans that he has orchestrated in Florida, or the exact way that these actions have been replicated by Republicans that see his lead as one to follow, but you get the picture.
Twitter is described as a terrible place (perhaps not in those words) even by its most ardent users, and is best known for trolls, flame wars, and hate speech, all of which have become worse since Musk took ownership. It seems that this hive of hatred might be the perfect place for Ron DeSantis to announce his candidacy for president. Now we just have to hope that he doesn’t pick Musk as his running mate.