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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
Which is a Worse 2024 Possibility for America and the World
President Trump or President DeSantis?
As distasteful as a President DeSantis would be to my delicate Progressive Democratic constitution, I believe that a President Trump would be worse.
Let me say right away that as in all my previous Integral World political essays, I make no apologies for openly acknowledging that I am a politically Progressive Democrat, but I have tried my best to approach complicated political issues with what I have referred to as an “integrative” perspective, in which a multitude of contrasting views are addressed . When it comes down to evaluating the respective destructive aspects of a possible 2024 United States President Donald Trump and President Ron DeSantis to America and the world, my perspective is once again that of a Progressive Democrat. However, what I view as the two most enormous potential destructive aspects to America and the world of either of these two possible United States presidencies, climate disaster and nuclear war, are aspects that I believe take us way beyond any particular political persuasion. Therefore I will cut to the chase and state my conclusion up front that based upon these two “end of human race” issues (Benjamin, 2022a), as distasteful as a President DeSantis would be to my delicate Progressive Democratic constitution, I believe that a President Trump would be worse.
Some Progressive Political Commentators Who Think DeSantis Would Be “Worse” than Trump
In an extended article/book chapter that I finished up in March, 2022 (Benjamin, in press a), I described how two Progressive political commentators came to the conclusion that DeSantis would be “worse” than Trump:
“One can take a look at the Republican potential presidential candidate who is second in popularity to Trump, and this is the Trumpian governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis (Romano, 2021; Sharma, 2021). So what are DeSantis' claims to his popularity with Republican voters? Essentially he has come out very strongly against vaccine mandates and mask mandates, and he prematurely opened his state up for business in the midst of escalating death and destruction in Florida from the coronavirus pandemic (Merica, 2021; Rohrer et al., 2021; Rupar, 2021). Therefore one may very well ask if DeSantis as President of the United States would be worse than Trump, thinking in terms of climate change and pandemic disasters.”
“John Dean (not the John Dean from the Watergate era) has voiced the following thoughts in regard to a Trumpian 2024 presidential candidate being more difficult to beat than it would be to beat Trump:
'Although DeSantis may head the pack, any of the Trump alternatives would be worse for America than the return of Trump himself. All six alternatives [DeSantis, Hawley, Cruz, Rubio, Haley, Pence]  are younger, smarter, saner, more experienced, arguably mentally healthier than Trump. None of them have the baggage of a history of sexual harassment or buffoonery. That is why supporting Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination makes sense. He will be easier to beat because he would reunite the Democratic party and increase Democratic voter turnout. And even if his efforts to win the GOP nomination were to fail, he likely will smear all of his Republican opponents, weakening them in advance of the general election.'”
“And Jonathan Greenblatt (2022), the CEO of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), impactfully described how the violence and destruction in the United States could explode with “the arrival of another demagogue—one smarter and more disciplined than Donald Trump':
'What might occur if social instability deepens, hateful attitudes become even more pervasive and entrenched, the traditional institutional protections are worn down even more, and a much shrewder demagogue rises to power?. . . . In this environment, with hatred seething around us, the arrival of another demagogue—one smarter and more disciplined than Donald Trump—is all it would take to produce an explosion of violence, mass death, and the destruction of our society and democracy.'”
“Well Dean's and Greenblatt's arguments make sense to me but the thought of “President Trump” again, makes me feel sick. I wonder what meaning anything anymore would have if we followed Dean's advice and purposely supported Trump as the Republican presidential nominee . Rather, I think we need to just let things play out as they will and support the January 6th Commission investigation of Trump's involvement in instigating the Capitol insurrection, as well as all the legal proceedings against Trump. And Jonathan Greenblatt (2022) [in what perhaps can be construed as contradicting his above statement about the greater destructiveness of a Trumpian president compared to Trump himself] reminded us of the violent consequences that may arise from a political leader's hate-filled rhetoric, as he focused in particular on Trump:
'When a political leader, especially one with the tremendous reach and influence of President Trump, not only fails to condemn hate but actively encourages it, the entire tone of our nation's discourse shifts. Extremists become emboldened, hateful ideology spreads, and society becomes far more susceptible to violence.'”
More Recent Commentators With A Difference of Opinion on Who Would Be “Worse”: DeSantis or Trump?
Let's now fast-forward 8 months later, to November, 2022. The United States midterm elections went much better for Democrats than the media predicted (Haque, 2022a). Soon before the midterm elections, I became quite depressed and pessimistic about the future prospects of democracy in the United States (Benjamin, in press b) . But I am back on the horse now , and though as a Progressive Democrat I certainly hope that we aren't faced with a President Trump or President Trumpian in 2024, I feel the need to face the reality that this could very well happen, especially now that Trump has finally announced his candidacy (Benjamin, in press a, in press b; Capoot, 2022; Haque, 2022b). And it is also the case that although DeSantis has maintained his position as the most likely Republican to be able to beat Trump for the Republican nomination, especially after his strong midterm victory (Geraghty, 2022), Trump beat DeSantis by a wide margin in a recent Emerson College poll that gave Trump 55% of Republican registered voters' support compared to 25% for DeSantis (Capoot, 2022). Furthermore, with the expected wide number of Republican primary candidates, it is quite possible that the primary vote will be split up enough to allow Trump to emerge as the winner, in a similar way to what happened in 2016 (Goldmacher, 2022). And given how DeSantis is painted as some kind of “moderate” Republican (Geragty, 2022), I fear that Independents could end up flocking to DeSantis as an alternative if he is the Republican candidate, especially if Biden decides to run again and is the Democratic candidate. Along these lines, here is a perspective from a political commentator, Jim Geraghty, who appears to be either an Independent or some kind of a moderate Democrat:
“If Florida Gov. Ron Desantis runs for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination—as many expect, after his staggering reelection victory last Tuesday—plenty of American across the partisan divide would have good reason to root for him to win the nomination. . . . Given the bizarre state of American politics during the Trump era, DeSantis would represent a return to normality. . . . DeSantis would be a Republican nominee without Donald Trump's worst and most destructive impulses and habits. The governor certainly doesn't shy from a scrap, but he fights for policies, not to prosecute vendettas. Having a normal-range Republican leader on the national stage would be a beneficial reset for the entire country. . . . Independents and centrists might find themselves disappointed or irked with a President DeSantis. But they'd be irked within normal parameters, not fearing that he'd burn the country down in a fit of rage because he thinks someone wasn't being fair to him.” (Geraghty, 2022)
Yes Gerahty's argument about the dangers of Trump acting destructively out of his apparent mental disturbance  is the kind of argument that wins me over for Trump being “worse” than Desantis for America and the world, thinking of the horrendous scenario of Trump's mental disturbance getting us into a nuclear war. And Geraghty went on to paint a relatively “mild” picture of DeSantis, which leads one to believe that DeSantis may very well be less destructive than Trump in terms of climate disaster, which of course is directly related to survival of the human species (Benjamin, 2022a):
“It's worth noting that DeSantis, unlike many elected Republicans, has never claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged or stolen, and he rejected calls for a statewide audit of Florida's 2020 vote. . . . As governor, DeSantis increased spending on environmental projects by $1.5 billion compared with the previous four years. He and the state legislature approved $800 million to increase salaries and raises for teachers across Florida, boosting the average starting salary to at least $47,000, ninth-highest in the nation. DeSantis also launched a $100 million program for home purchases by educators, health-care professionals, child-care workers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and veterans or active members of the military. Yes, on abortion rights, DeSantis is much more conservative than liberals would prefer, but not so drastic as leaders in many other red states. . . . Every now and then, DeSantis takes the not-so-conservative path when it's popular with his constituents. This doesn't mean liberals will embrace him; it's just an observation that a DeSantis presidency wouldn't mean enduring four years of an inflexible, hardcore conservative. There would be occasional areas of agreement. . . . Maybe to truly and permanently put the Trump era of American politics behind us, Democrats will have to accept a slightly higher risk of a not-so-crazy Republican winning the general election. Considering the stakes, that doesn't seem like too much to ask.” (Geraghty, 2022)
As one would expect, there were a multitude of passionate comments to this essay, decrying the merits of DeSantis, and the arguments of the essay's author in support of DeSantis. But rather than reproduce any of these comments, which interested readers can peruse for themselves, in line with my integrative perspective  here is a contrasting argument from a different political commentator, Jennifer Rubin, who is obviously coming from a more Progressive Democratic perspective than that of Geraghty, which conveyed that DeSantis is as much of a threat to America as Trump is:
“If you believe Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis would be a less dangerous presidential candidate than former president Donald Trump, take a moment to consider the recent ruling striking down DeSantis's “Stop WOKE Act.” That opinion—as well as other rulings against his attempts to inhibit dissent—makes clear that DeSantis is just as willing as Trump to embrace the GOP's authoritarian element and use state power to punish his enemies. To recap, the StopWOKE Act—also perversely known as the Individual Freedom Act—is the Orwellian scheme that DeSantis signed into law earlier this year to muzzle the candid discussion of race and racism in classrooms and the workplace. . . . Walker is the same judge who struck down another DeSantis assault on the First Amendment—his vague anti-riot law to quell demonstrations. . . . As the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida explained, the anti-riot law 'risks criminalizing peaceful protest and shields those who injure or kill protesters—for example, by ramming their vehicles into protesters—from civil penalties.'” (Rubin, 2022)
And Rubin concluded her argument that DeSantis is as much a threat to American as Trump is, with a strong indictment of DeSantis from the perspective of American democracy:
“DeSantis seems to have no fondness for the basic rights our Constitution confers on Americans. Instead, he delights in using state power to demonstrate his contempt for the expression of views he dislikes. This forms the core of his political brand, underscored by his 'don't say gay' law, his statute banning 'critical race theory' in schools and his firing of a county prosecutor who criticized his abortion policies. Desantis has also regularly flexed his power as governor: excluding media from events, taking public proceedings behind closed doors (including the selection of the University of Florida's president) and exacting revenge on supposedly woke corporations such as Disney. DeSantis's contempt for dissent and his crackdown on critics should not be discounted. This is the profile of a constitutional ignoramus, a bully and a strongman. Voters should be forewarned.” (Rubin, 2022) 
Conclusion: So Who Is Worse for America and the World: DeSantis or Trump?
I know I already gave away the conclusion to this essay in advance: I think Trump is worse for America and the world than DeSantis is. But Jennifer Rubin's arguments, that DeSantis would be as destructive to American democracy as Trump has been, needs to be taken very seriously. The Trumpian attempt to destroy democracy in the United States is something that I have been very concerned about (Benjamin, 2022b). It is a tremendous relief to me that the results of the midterm elections, through the defeat of a number of Trumpian election denyers in crucial swing states, will at least put a significant dent into this attempt (Haque, 2022a, 2022b). But it appears that Ron DeSantis is an authoritarian conservative Republican with little respect for American democracy, not to mention his pandemic policies that many believe have resulted in the needless deaths of thousands of people (Merica, 2021; Rohrer et al., 2021; Rupar, 2021). So I certainly am not pinning any “moderate” medals on DeSantis, and I will do all in my power to prevent a 2024 President Trump or President Trumpian inclusive of a President DeSantis.
But if I am forced to make a choice, then I must admit that in spite of DeSantis' dangerous authoritarian acts that threaten American democracy, I don't believe that he would swoop down to the dictator-like insurrection tactics of Trump that the January 6th Committee have made notoriously publicly available. And when push comes to shove, I must return to the two issues which are at the core of the survival of America as well as the world, nuclear war and climate disaster, to come to my conclusion that DeSantis is worse than Trump for America and the world. In conclusion, here is a relevant somewhat graphic quote from my long-time friend and ex-geography professor Mike that accurately sums up my own position:
“As for Trump v. Desantis, I see Trump as much more dangerous, chiefly as he is unhinged—hence more likely to lead us into WWIII. DeSantis is a homophobic, misogynous, asshole, but at least he is not likely to lead the US into the next World War, let alone climate collapse built on a house of lies. Trump actually belongs in jail. DeSantis is not (hopefully) there yet.”
1) See a number of my Integral World essays in which I describe my integrative perspective in various contexts at www.integralworld.net
2) In November, 2022, Josh Hawley reiterated that he won't run for president (Santaliz, 2022).
3) Along these lines, it is interesting to note that in the United States 2022 midterm elections, Democratic groups and candidates made the controversial decision to spend “millions of dollars on Republican primaries across the country to boost far-right, Trump-endorsed candidates in swing states. And the controversial strategy appears to have paid off for the party as nominees they promoted lost their races to a Democrat last week.” (Kuchar, 2022)
4) As I have described previously in this regard (Benjamin, in press b), soon before the midterm elections I felt much benefit from becoming re-involved with the grass roots progressive political organization Indivisible (www.indivisble.org).
5) One thing that has helped me to get back on the horse after the midterm elections was a stimulating and uplifting perspective on Democrats appreciating their positive results while taking their disappointments in stride, from a dynamic social media activist who refers to herself as “Politics Girl,” inclusive of a 30+ minute interview she conducted with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klaine (see https://www.facebook.com/IAmPoliticsGirl/ ).
6) For a penetrating and alarming description of Trump's apparent mental disturbance see Lee (2019).
7) Rubin's perspective that DeSantis is as much a threat to America as Trump is consistent with the informal responses that I received from a number of Indivisible members in the chat room during the national Indivisible call soon after the midterm elections.
Benjamin, E. (2022a). The future of humanistic psychology and the preservation of the human species. Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter: August 2022, 10-12.
Benjamin, E. (2022b). The future of humanistic psychology goes hand-in-hand with the future of democracy. Self & Society: International Journal for Humanistic, Existential, and Transpersonal Psychology, 50(1-2), 8-12.
Benjamin, E. (in press a). Is the United States currently living in a pre-Trump 2 or pre-Trumpian time period? In A. Akande (Ed.), Building diplomacy for regional cooperation and peace. Springer. https://elliotbenjamin.medium.com/is-the-united-states-currently-living-in-a-pre-trump-2-or-pre-trumpian-568336f2bbe6 For a more recent online version of this article, see ResearchGate.net.
Benjamin, E. (in press b). Progressive politics and humanistic psychology in the Trump/Coronavirus era: An updated version. In A. Akande (Ed.), The struggle for world's future: Democracy, evolution of social media, and populism. Routledge. For a currently available online version of this article, see ResearchGate.net.
Capoot, J. (2022). Trump would beat DeSantis in 2024, as Biden approval rate remains underwater, new poll finds. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/22/trump-would-beat-desantis-in-2024-biden-approval-rate-underwater.html
Dean, J. (2022). Trump won't be back in 2024: Great news, but the alternatives are worse. https://medium.com/deans-list/trump-wont-be-back-in-2024-8cb820e9739d
Geraghty, J. (2022). Opinion: DeSantis would pave the way for a post-Trump GOP return to normal. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/11/14/ desantis-normal-republican/
Goldmacher, S. (2022). A crowd of possible Trump rivals renews G.O.P. fears of a divided field. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/20/us/politics/2024-republican-field.html
Greenblatt, J. (2022). It could happen here: Why America is tipping from hate to the unthinkable—and how we can stop it. Mariner Books.
Haque, U. (2022a). America's coming back—but will the GOP wreck it? https://eand.co/americas-coming-back-but-will-the-gop-wreck-it-96ccf1e1f85d
Haque, U. (2022b). It look like Trump is done. So can anyone (really) replace him? Can Trumpism survive without Trump? https://eand.co/it-looks-like-trump-is-done-so-can-anyone-really-replace-him-246fdeec880d
Kuchar, S. (2022). Democrats spent millions boosting ultra right candidates in midters. The strategy worked. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/11/15/ democrats-boosted-trump-gop-primaries-helping-midterms/10670042002/
Lee, B. (Ed.). (2019). The dangerous case of Donald Trump: 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a president. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Merica, D. (2021). As Florida cases surge, DeSantis stays the course on Covid. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/22/politics/ron-desantis-florida-covid/index.html
Rohrer, G., Fuller, a., & Lemongello, S. (2021). Florida reopens: DeSantis lifts state's coronavirus restrictions. Retrieved from https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-ne-desantis-florida-reopens-20200925-f3sr4wk5tncvvkhwr6ua4pereq-story.html
Romano, A. (2021). Poll: Just 1 in 4 Americans want Biden or Trump to run again in 2024. https://news.yahoo.com/poll-just-1-in-4-americans-want-biden-or-trump-to-run-again-in-2024-190141237.html
Rubin, J. (2022). Opinion: Beware, DeSantis is as much a threat to American as Trump. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/11/21/ desantis-republican-free-speech-trump/
Rupar, A. (2021). How Ron DeSantis's Covid response became the model of what not to do. https://www.vox.com/2021/8/13/22622168/ron-desantis-florida-covid-response-failures
Santaliz, K. (2022). Hawley reiterates he won't run for president as likely Trump announcement looms. https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meetthepressblog/hawley-reiterates-wont-run-president-rcna57235
Sharma, S. (2021). DeSantis beats Trump in 2024 White House poll. https://news.yahoo.com/desantis-beats-trump-2024-white-083016272.html