I hear it said that Ron DeSantis is Trump without all the drama and personal excesses. He is more calculating, more focused, and smarter on the one hand and less ego driven and unpredictable on the other.

But what this comparison misses is Trump’s innate ability to energize, direct, sustain, and manipulate a mass base. When it comes to giving voice to people’s basest passions and assembling a cross class constituency on a national level, Trump so far is in a class by himself. Nor does DeSantis or any other Republican have the daring to recklessly act, to roll the dice like Trump demonstrated on January 6.

And it is naive to think that Trump won’t clean up some of his mistakes, including acting in a more measured way in some situations, if there is a ‘next time.’

Right wing extremist authoritarianism, fascist or some other variety, is in many ways an irrational system and its politics therefore rest to no small degree on demagoguery, lies, and perfomative politics as well as force. On this count, Trump stands above DeSantis, admittedly no novice, by a considerable margin. That could change, but I doubt the odds makers in Vegas would give you great odds on that bet.