Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is best placed to take Trump's place as a 2024 GOP presidential nominee.
An expert on authoritarianism told Insider that's because he's learned all of Trump's lessons.
The expert added that DeSantis 'doesn't have the baggage of Trump,' and could rally voters.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could be the GOP's natural successor to former President Donald Trump as a 2024 presidential candidate, and he doesn't come with Trump's drama, an expert on authoritarianism told Insider.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian at New York University, and the author of the book, "Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present." She has studied the backsliding of democracy, from the US to Russia, and elsewhere.
In a wide-ranging interview, she told Insider that in light of the January 6 hearings, Trump might have to be prosecuted in order to save American democracy ahead of the 2024 election. In that context, she said that DeSantis could take his place as a populist nominee.
"What we do find in history is prosecution, in the longer term, is one of the only things that deflates these guys' personality cults, because those cults are founded on the idea that they are invincible, they are infallible," Ben-Ghiat said. "Now, if that does happen to Trump — DeSantis has already absorbed all the lessons of Trump."
"He's clearly readying himself for a national run, whether it's in 2024 or later. And he's a very dangerous individual," Ben Ghiat said. "He's dangerous because he is equally repressive, but doesn't have the baggage of Trump. It's hard to have the baggage of Trump."
DeSantis has recently signed controversial bills like Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill — which limits teachers' curriculum around sexual orientation and gender identity in grades Kindergarten through third — and the
Stop WOKE Act, which restricts how race is discussed in workplaces, schools, and colleges. He also implemented an Office of Election Crimes and Security, rankling voting rights advocates.
DeSantis, who has raised $124 million, has recently denied that he'll run in 2024, insisting that he's focused on his own race in 2022.
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