Donald Trump continued last week his effort to present himself as the peace candidate in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. Trump took another big step in this this endeavor when, during a Wednesday CNN “town hall” event in New Hampshire, he stated, when asked if as president he would continue the United States government sending money and weapons to the Ukraine government and whether he supports Ukraine winning its war against Russia, that the important thing to do is stop all the killing by settling the war quickly. Trump insisted that as president he could bring about such a settlement “in one day, 24 hours.”
Also last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a much-talked-about potential primary competitor for Trump, headlined events on Thursday and Friday at which he signed bills into law and made presentations that could help to define himself as the freedom candidate in the Republican presidential primary should he end up throwing his hat into the ring.
“Freedom” was right there on DeSantis’s podium in a sign bearing the title of his Thursday event: “Prescribe Freedom.” And, DeSantis, early in his speech, declared, “we’re gonna sign a series of bills here today to cement this state as the free state of Florida and as the freest state in the country.” That claim of accomplishment for freedom, should DeSantis run for president, will likely be the front and center message of his campaign. His ability to defend its truth and convince voters of its importance will, therefore, likely be important determiners of his campaign’s success.
While DeSantis’s Thursday speech also delved into other areas, as suggested by the event title, the primary focus was on DeSantis’s efforts to ensure greater respect for freedom in Florida than in other states during the coronavirus scare that was used to excuse crackdowns at national, state, and local government levels across America, as well as efforts he has made since to protect Floridians from future crackdowns in the name of countering coronavirus or some new medical threat du jour.
Then, at the Friday event, DeSantis stood behind a podium with a sign upon it declaring “Big Brother’s Digital Dollar.” DeSantis thus presented himself visually as the adversary of Big Brother, the freedom-suppressing nemesis of George Orwell’s novel 1984, in this event dedicated to highlighting efforts DeSantis is pursuing to counter a potential implementation by the Federal Reserve of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
DeSantis, in this Friday speech, presented his efforts against the implementation of a CBDC in terms of acting to protect freedom, declaring early on that “this today what we’re talking about is a good example of kind of the posture about we’re on offense in this state of Florida: we’re leading; we’re getting ahead of issues; and we’re making sure that your freedoms are protected against threats that may not even necessarily be here right now but are developing.”
Throughout the Friday speech, DeSantis kept returning to protecting freedom as a reason for acting against a potential CBDC. For example, DeSantis stated: “Once they then have the ability to run a central bank digital currency, they’re gonna be able to have the window into what you’re doing with the money and have the ability to control where that money is going.” That control could be exercised, for example, suggested DeSantis, to limit how much gas you can buy based on claiming the limitation is to protect against global warming. Providing another example, DeSantis suggested someone who bought a gun one week could be prevented from buying another the next week. The CBDC would just be shut off for use in that transaction. “So that would empower the government to do, I think, a lot of things that would not be conducive to freedom,” stated DeSantis.
“I think that anyone with their eyes open can see the dangers that this type of an arrangement would mean for Americans who want to exercise their financial independence and would like to be able to conduct business without having the government know every single transaction that they are making in real time,” DeSantis further stated. DeSantis concluded that a potential CBDC “is something that will be a massive transfer of power from individual consumers to a central authority, and that’s just fundamentally antithetical to a free society.”
In opposition to a CBDC, DeSantis said he would be signing at the event legislation that would cause the state’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code to deny recognition of a Federal Reserve implemented CBDC. This action DeSantis contrasted with a movement in other states for those states’ versions of the Uniform Commercial Code to be altered to accommodate a CBDC.
Should DeSantis enter the Republican presidential contest, we will likely have a situation where the leading candidate is seeking to sell himself as the peace candidate and the most popular challenger is promoting himself as the freedom candidate. This promises to be a good situation for proponents of reducing the United States government’s intervention both in America and abroad, especially if each candidate ultimately decides that the best course is to try to show that he in fact is the best candidate for both peace and freedom.
A Trump versus DeSantis contest could be quite a change from other recent Republican presidential contests. If Trump and DeSantis settle into trying to prove which of them is the most dedicated to peace and freedom, there may be much reason for advocates of the US government respecting peace and freedom to cheer for both candidates as the primary contest proceeds. But, in many such observers’ minds a couple questions will persist. Do these candidates really mean it? Will they deliver on their promises once in office?