The Kids Are All MAGA

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
July 27, 2022

There was a brief moment this weekend at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit where I thought Ron DeSantis had it in the bag. TP USA, of course, is the non-profit that fosters conservative ideology among high school and college-age kids. And in an era of generational tide-turning, where Gen Z is ascendant and baby boomers are fading, DeSantis’s young fogeydom has always seemed like a political asset. He looks like a young guy from the 50s, and is surrounded by some 2024 hopefuls who could be his Appalachian grandparents.

The crowd was practically delirious on Friday as the Florida governor strode onto the stage, accompanied by pyrotechnics and a fog machine, which I have never seen before at a conservative activist conference. Some 5,000 screaming college students leapt to their feet, many of whom didn’t sit down for his tightly-constructed 45-minute speech until pestered by staff. The positive energy in the Tampa Convention Center was palpable as they left. I could hear many eagerly chatting about how awesome DeSantis was and debating whether he was better than Trump. For a brief moment, I sensed the possibility for a 2024 vibe shift.