Trump 2.0: Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Florida Fire


Can America pull back from the brink of a civil war, or a failed fascist state? The answer appears to be ‘probably not’. It looks increasingly likely it’s going to be one or the other, because if last week is anything to go by, the extreme right of politics is now ‘mainstream America’.

Donald Trump is leading the polls among Republicans as their next preferred presidential nominee and while that’s obviously a problem in and of itself – Trump can’t stand to lose and if he does he’ll once again call on his tens of millions of followers to attack – but the only man being touted as a serious challenge to Trump is Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis. And it turns out that while he’s not as clueless or uncouth as Trump, he’s ever bit as vicious.

Last week, DeSantis arranged for 48 asylum seekers from Venezuela to board a flight ostensibly to Boston, with the promise of jobs, housing and an education for their kids. But once the plane was in the air, passengers were told they flying to Martha’s Vineyard, a very left-wing (and wealthy) holiday island in Massachusetts.

Why? For a political stunt. There were no jobs, housing or schooling waiting. They were simply dumped, while DeSantis and Republicans in general stood back, smiled and laughed ‘How do you like it?’ to locals, who’ve never had to deal with an influx of asylum seekers before.

That all unfolded late last week. By Saturday, Texas was joining the circus by bussing 50 migrants, including a one-month old baby, to the Washington home of vice president Kamala Harris.

It’s part of a coordinated campaign by southern state Republicans to protest the arrival of asylum seekers, and to embarrass the Biden administration in the lead-up to the November mid-term elections.

And of course, it’s potentially illegal – duping people into being trafficked across state lines is a federal crime – not to mention deeply immoral.

In his defence, DeSantis told media: “The minute even a small fraction of what those border towns deal with every day is brought to their front door, they all of a sudden go berserk, and they’re so upset that this is happening. And it just shows you, y’know, their virtue-signalling is a fraud.”

DeSantis is probably right about the fraudulent virtue signalling – the traditionally ‘blue states’ won by Democrats have some of the biggest gaps between right and poor (that is, blacks and whites) in the country. And undeniably, the southern states are doing most of the heavy lifting for settlement of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.

But to use the asylum seekers themselves as a political football… well, that’s unprecedented. In America, obviously. We’ve been doing that here for decades.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.