By Arab News
By Dalia Al-Aqidi*
Following a series of unforeseen technical glitches that resulted in minor delays, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is deemed a pinnacle of leadership and representative of his constituents, last week took to the magnificent realm of Twitter’s auditory platform alongside the highly regarded and illustrious tycoon and astute investor Elon Musk and tech investor David Sacks. With a momentous declaration that was widely covered by the US media, DeSantis announced his decision to throw his hat into the vibrant arena of the US Republican presidential primary elections.
DeSantis exposed the lousy state of the union, promising to get the job done. “My pledge to you is this: If you nominate me, you can set your clock to Jan. 20, 2025, at high noon because, on the west side of the US Capitol, I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th president of the United States,” the governor said.
The first reaction came from none other than former president and fellow Republican 2024 election hopeful Donald Trump, who used his Truth Social platform to express his critique of DeSantis, through a peculiar post that swiftly engendered a state of confusion among readers. Trump’s statement featured a comparison between his metaphorical “red button” and that of the governor, with the former claiming superiority in size, quality, potency and operational functionality. Furthermore, Trump insinuated a conversation with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, signaling a forthcoming amicable relationship, thus adding an additional layer of intrigue to his enigmatic message.
Within the intricate landscape of American politics, conservatives have come to regard 44-year-old statesman DeSantis as a formidable contender, poised to rival the former president and potentially win the Republican nomination. Evidencing this emerging dynamic, a chorus of influential Republican legislators, coupled with an array of right-wing media outlets, has begun to fervently rally behind this rising star, enthusiastically endorsing his leadership aspirations and advocating for his ascendance as the torchbearer of the party’s principles and vision. This groundswell of support signifies a momentous shift within Republican circles, heralding a captivating interplay of power and influence as the party navigates the critical journey toward the White House.
But why Musk? During a contemplative period last year, as Musk pondered the prospect of acquiring the popular social media platform Twitter, DeSantis distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate among the ranks of Republican politicians who openly rallied behind the visionary tech billionaire’s quest. However, the governor exhibited an unprecedented level of determination, surpassing the actions of his GOP counterparts. Leveraging the considerable weight of the Florida pension fund’s investments in the company, he unequivocally declared his intention to mobilize the formidable influence of the nation’s third-largest state against the board of Twitter, should they persist in their reluctance to engage in negotiations with Musk over a potential acquisition.
This resolute stance showcased DeSantis’ unwavering commitment to ensuring a favorable outcome and underlined his steadfast dedication to safeguarding the interests of conservatives, who had long perceived Twitter as an antagonistic platform.
The convergence of interests between the young politician and the investment tycoon has been steadily maturing over a considerable time. In a notable development last June, Musk took to the digital realm, expressing his inclination toward endorsing DeSantis for the upcoming 2024 presidential race.
By offering his public support, Musk effectively offered an expansive platform for DeSantis to directly engage with a substantial audience of social media users. Throughout his tenure as governor, DeSantis has been embroiled in repeated clashes with social media platforms and technology companies, primarily driven by a perception of conservative voices being subjected to censorship.
In 2021, DeSantis took a proactive role in championing new state legislation that rendered it unlawful for technology platforms to impede or diminish the visibility of content that may potentially transgress their terms of service. This legislative maneuver opened avenues for legal recourse for aggrieved individuals. Collectively, these efforts reflect DeSantis’ steadfast commitment to protecting conservative viewpoints while navigating the complex terrain of social media and technology governance.
In the wake of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, a notable transformation has taken place on the platform, wherein it has emerged as a haven for free expression, particularly serving as an enclave for conservative perspectives that have frequently encountered stifling limitations. Recognizing the prevailing sense of marginalization experienced by conservative voices, Musk has prioritized cultivating an environment that fosters uninhibited discourse and unfettered freedom of speech.
Under his stewardship, Twitter has undergone a significant metamorphosis, now standing as a prominent digital realm where individuals from across the ideological spectrum can articulate their views without the pervasive specter of censorship and suppression.
Amid the self-proclaimed commitment of the far-left to champion free expression and speech, a troubling pattern has emerged, as characterized by the systematic suppression and marginalization of conservative voices across various platforms. This profoundly concerning trend reflects a problematic mindset, commonly known as the “Free speech for me, but not for thee” mentality, whereby proponents of certain ideologies selectively endorse the principles of open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, but deny those very principles to individuals with differing viewpoints.
Despite professing dedication to inclusivity and a diversity of opinions, the far left’s actions have consistently demonstrated a propensity to silence and stifle conservative perspectives, thereby casting a shadow of doubt on their professed commitment to genuine freedom of speech. Twitter debunked their falsehoods and illuminated the underlying ideologies driving the left’s thought processes.
By choosing to commence his campaign alongside the prominent figure of Musk, DeSantis has strategically opted to leverage the influential power of Twitter — a central social media platform. This decision aligns with the young politician’s adept utilization of a “high velocity public relations approach,” a dynamic strategy he has successfully cultivated during his tenure in Florida.
This carefully calculated move demonstrates DeSantis’ astute recognition of the social media platforms’ impact in shaping public opinion and mobilizing support. By aligning himself with a renowned tech visionary like Musk and his Twitter platform, DeSantis aims to amplify his message and reach a broad audience, ensuring his campaign resonates and gathers momentum in this increasingly interconnected and digital age. This strategic alliance serves as a testament to the governor of Florida’s acumen in adapting to the evolving landscape of political communication and his ability to harness the power of social media to bolster his political aspirations.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi