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Matthew Yglesias

Ron DeSantis and the Rise of Free-Lunch Conservatism

Florida’s governor likes to bash big government while benefiting from its largesse. How far can this style of politics take him?

How far can he go?

How far can he go?

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

As a member of Congress, Ron DeSantis voted against providing federal financial assistance to New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy. Now, as governor of Florida, he’s all for delivering federal money to his state.

A little dose of hypocrisy is nothing new in politics. But DeSantis’s rise to political stardom since becoming governor has been characterized by an unusual level of indulgence in free-lunch politics. And his ability to position himself as a culture warrior reflects not just political savvy (though he surely has that) but a set of fortuitous circumstances that has allowed him to mostly avoid the hard parts of governing, such as setting priorities and making tradeoffs.