In the grand theater of American politics, it’s not uncommon for superficial elements to occasionally overshadow typical policy issues. Such is the case with 2024 GOP candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose choice of footwear has recently come under scrutiny.
During an episode of the PBD Podcast produced this week, host Patrick Bet-David confronted DeSantis about rumors that he has been wearing hidden high heels inside his cowboy boots to appear taller. Bet-David even went as far as gifting DeSantis a pair of shoes from high-end retailer Ferragamo, urging him to wear them instead of his usual boots. DeSantis declined the gift, stating, “I don’t accept gifts. I can’t accept it.”
Patrick Bet-David just ended this man's entire careerpic.twitter.com/aJ65WL8qLL
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) October 30, 2023
The topic of DeSantis’ boots had earlier gained traction following an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” where he was seen wearing a pair of cowboy boots that many believed contained hidden heels. This theory was only fueled further when President Donald Trump shared a meme about the controversy on Truth Social.
The spectacle around DeSantis’ footwear has taken on a life of its own, with people analyzing photos and videos of the governor in an attempt to determine whether or not he is indeed wearing lifts. Even high-end bootmaker Zephan Parker weighed in, stating, “He’s wearing lifts; there’s no doubt.”
But why is the discussion centered around DeSantis’ footwear rather than his political accomplishments or policies? It’s worth noting that throughout history, taller candidates have generally fared better in elections. This seemingly trivial aspect of a candidate’s appearance can have a significant impact on voters’ perceptions, and it seems that DeSantis is not immune to this phenomenon.
Nobody can convince me Ron DeSantis isn't wearing heels.
There is not a single toe in that boot.
Boots don't bend like that.
— Evan Kilgore 🇺🇸 (@EvanAKilgore) October 31, 2023
While the focus on DeSantis’ boots may seem frivolous, it is emblematic of the larger political trend where appearance often preempts substance. In an age where social media and sound bites dominate the political landscape, it’s easier for a pair of cowboy boots to become a viral sensation than for a well-crafted policy proposal.
This situation highlights a stark contrast between DeSantis and President Trump. While DeSantis is embroiled in a footwear controversy, Trump has masterfully used social media to connect with voters and propel his political career. This ability to harness the power of modern media is something that DeSantis could learn from as he seeks to rehabilitate himself as a viable candidate in the 2024 election.