What If Ron DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard Stunt Wasn’t Actually Good Politics?

Home » What If Ron DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard Stunt Wasn’t Actually Good Politics?
What If Ron DeSantis’s Martha’s Vineyard Stunt Wasn’t Actually Good Politics?


In this line of thinking, mistreating migrants is good if it moves the electoral needle—maybe doing the right kind of crimes or scandals will help you become president. Cruelty to migrants, in this analysis, is understandable—maybe even defensible—because in the cutthroat world of GOP politics, it’s simply what it takes to succeed. DeSantis wants attention. He wants to be seen as at least as anti-immigrant as Donald Trump. You can go far in the world of political journalism by simply noting those two things and never making further demands of corrupt actors thriving in a media ecosystem that’s so often willing to look the other way. 

Without exactly saying it, Cillizza and Fineout gesture at a much more damning point: that the key to supremacy within the Republican Party means embracing a cruel form of nihilism and that doing so may, in fact, be supersmart politics. This was the underlying assumption of this coverage anyway: DeSantis’s decision was callous and wicked—but you had to hand it to him! 

That this stunt could turn into an actual, lengthy—and potentially criminal—political scandal was never really considered despite the fact that there was no small amount of obvious chicanery involved. The story played well on Fox News and made liberals mad, and that was enough for a premature consensus to form. Over the ensuing days, however, the blank spaces that were overlooked have been filled in. It now looks like someone involved in this stunt may have broken the law. On Tuesday, the San Antonio sheriff’s office announced it had opened an investigation into how these migrants were brought to Massachusetts. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar noted, in a damning interview, that he believed the migrants had been “lured under false pretenses” to Martha’s Vineyard and were promised housing, jobs, and “the solution to several of their problems.”  

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