This all bears a striking resemblance to the intense world of authoritarianism. When leaders have a personality cult, they don’t just set policies, but also model certain ideals of masculine power and performance that their followers widely imitate.
Men with political ambitions learn quickly that mimicking the leader, in word and deed, can win them a place in the new political world the leader is creating. They learn that the leader rewards public expressions of loyalty and blind devotion — even better if you are seen teaching those lessons to your children (DeSantis’ Trumpist video recalls this). Imitation truly is the best form of flattering an authoritarian or authoritarian wannabe’s giant ego.
So is Trump’s ability to keep his personality cult alive after leaving office, through his “Big Lie” that allows millions of devotees to think he, and not Joe Biden, is still the “real” president.
Whatever DeSantis’s future plans for his mini-Trump brand, he might take heed of the fates of many politicians who have adulated and imitated their strongman, only to find that he turns against them. For authoritarians and wannabe authoritarians always do whatever benefits their own power, no matter who is harmed in the process, and no matter how loyal their lackeys have been in the past.