Tho Bishop: “I was going to bars maskless in May of 2020 because Ron DeSantis stood against my enemies.” (Part III)
WY: So evidently there are a lot of exciting things going on in the US nowadays and with the paleo strategy in mind I wondered if we could briefly talk about Ron DeSantis – I know you are quite the fan. Could you just briefly outline who DeSantis is and why do you think he is such a positive for paleolibertarians and the right more broadly.
TB: So, DeSantis’ background is that he was a mediocre but above average Republican congressman. A Freedom Caucus guy who won the favor of Trump. He ran a campaign against one of the most powerful figures in Floridan Republican politics and ended up winning by 20 percentage points because Donald Trump endorsed him. So, he is a true Trump product. Then as Governor he has shown a knack at building and constructing very interesting policies. I mean he should have knack for having a good impulse on policy coalitions because of the coalitions he managed to build in order to get elected. So, for example, he beat Andrew Gillum in that general election in part because he was able to get Cubans and Hispanic voters onside, which is pretty big since they were not yet on board with the GOP in that 2016 race. He won black mothers and Tallahassee because of school choice. He won over environmentalists because of his opposition to Big Sugar and corporate power, which is a major issue with the Everglades and chemical runoff. And then he pushed back against his own Republican Party on stupid attempts to try to ban loose leaf medical marijuana. So he, you know, knew how to be a little spicy and that made him matter.
But more importantly, he was one of the toughest on pushing back against lockdowns from the beginning. And when he was pressured by Trump to put in lockdowns – in part because think of the politics of Florida when you are dealing with a very elderly population – he was already making decisions about opening the State quickly and aggressively. And he did it based on what he recognized, and this I think is the key, how full of crap the public policy enterprises in DC are. He saw them for what they are: liars, fraudsters and authoritarians. DeSantis understood this and thus ignored the DC COVID authoritarians and created his parallel institute to investigate these issues properly.
He also I think came to recognize that the media, the corporate press, was the enemy of the people and you see that with the treatment he has received from the media, so he has become, I think, radicalized on that issue. He also recognizes that we must seriously engage with the illiberalism of corporate tyranny, and I think that his fight on the big tech bill is pretty important in all of this. Most of almost all the libertarian ‘hot takes’ against his big tech bill are simply reheating their attacks on people like Josh Hawley without understanding the legislation or the proposals properly. I’m sorry lolberts, strengthening consumer protections so that social media cannot arbitrarily enforce contracts with consumers is not some radical authoritarian measure. Trying to act like big corporations, with all this state privilege baked in, are just like twee ‘Mom and Pop’ shops and local business is ignorant and proves that those kinds of libertarians are more interested in making theoretical arguments than dealing with the realities of the world we live in. So, DeSantis has done more to protect my freedom than most – I have been one of the freest people in the entire world this past year. I mean, I was going to bars maskless in May of 2020 because Ron DeSantis stood against my enemies. He’s done more for my liberty than any politician alive.
And on a final point, I think that he is someone libertarians should defend. While there is a lot to take from DeSantis, I think the most important lesson to take from him is the power that comes from strong and bold state leadership. When he runs for President, I am going to support him all the way because my hope is that, while I am under no delusions that he is going to be a libertarian, I do not think that he is going to radically realign our policy, our military, our relationships in the Middle East etc. I do think that he knows where the true sources of progressive power are, and he is the one that I have the most faith in tackling that power seriously.
WY: That encompasses a lot of things I was going to ask. I think the bit about the big tech bill like you said is what a lot of libertarians do not like about him at all. But why should we libertarians trust DeSantis, and the sort of Republican legislators he works with, to work towards freedom? Because once they are done with the cultural stuff, what are they doing to do with the power they have? They are not just going to give it up, are they?
TB: I think that you should never trust any Republican politician to protect your liberty. But what you must do is make it in their own self-interest to protect your liberty. You know, I do not have a romanticized view about any politician, be them Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. I believe that engagement in the political arena is not simply about voting; it is about being active in your community and institutions, not just within social media ideological ghettos, though that can be fun!
So, what you want to do is to build your own influence within institutions that can help give you a voice that is respected by your politicians. But ultimately there is no way of fixing Washington by ‘voting harder’ – Washington’s problems are systemic. What matters to me a lot more than national politics is state politics. I think that is an environment where we have seen Republicans repeatedly being used to successively shrink the state, and we should not dismiss that simply because they have not gone as far as we would like.
WY: I guess the message is do not sacrifice the good for the perfect then! To end on then, I am sure you have met libertarians and others on the right, who have no optimism about anything, but you seem quite energized. So, what would you say gives you optimism for the future? And can you dispense any ‘whitepills’ that could perhaps cheer up a blackpilled right-winger?
TB: Well, we should be very clear that we are living in a clown world! Things are bad but great moments of history are always found in its worst days, right? And I think that the growth of the Austrian school internationally means that we have serious thinkers thinking good things, and hopefully that pays off in meaningful ways. I am encouraged by the role that cryptocurrency, technology and apparatuses like alternative social media platforms can help undermine the American empire. I think politically, in the US, I am encouraged by the energy that has come along with the realignment of the political right, and I think that the opportunity is there if we have enough libertarian talent engaging with it meaningfully and honestly, so that is something that I try to do. Also, I think that more people have witnessed what has gone on and realized how evil their state and elites are.
More importantly, one of the things that I am optimistic about is that I think the left is vastly overplaying its hand on a cultural level, in a way that could dramatically realign politics in ways that even a lot of the populist right does not appreciate now. One of my bigger disagreements with Tucker Carlson is that while I think the immigration policies of the US were a deliberate attempt by Democrats to remake the electorate in a way they thought benefited them, I think the irony is that it could end up being a bailout of conservatism precisely because the left does not appreciate the power of Christianity as the most effective weapon against what the cultural left has to offer.
I think that ultimately, any serious hope for the West, in any nation, depends upon a Christian revival culturally. It is Christian values that made the West great and it is the secular nature of the West that I think that is so responsible for its decay. I think that revival is something that is possible. As powerful the institutions that left have control now are, I do think that there is weaponry on our side that has yet to be used.
Look, if you don’t laugh you’re going to cry. So, I think that at the very least, even if irrational at times, optimism is good. A mix of copium, intellectual rigor and laughter help make me a happier guy than a lot of other libertarians out there!
WY: Well then, ‘praise the Lord and pass the ammunition’ I say!
TB: *laughs* Yeah, exactly!