Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot joined the chorus of Republicans and ex-Republican NeverTrumpers early on, but he and others like him intend to keep working to rid their party of President Donald Trump.
Boot abandoned the GOP in 2018 after a slate of Republicans did the same. There was a part of him when Trump was elected that believed "that my party could never support a dangerous charlatan for the office once occupied by Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan."
He confessed that it never occurred to him that Trump would take possession of the entire GOP and that top GOP leaders would so easily submit to his demands. The GOP failed to stand up for their values.
"Watching the takeover unfold reminded me of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,'” he described. His friends and colleagues turned from nuanced conversations about taxes or foreign policy to race-baiting conspiracy theorists, all of which sent him fleeing.
Over the past five years that Trump has been on the national stage, Boot said that it felt like he'd fallen down an "Alice in Wonderland" rabbit hole to a whole other world where suddenly morality didn't matter and the rules of politics were ignored.
"Trump has turned out to be far more destructive than I could have anticipated — and also far more popular," said Boot. "As I watched Trump careen from one disaster to another, while maintaining the backing of almost his entire party, I sometimes wondered whether it was Trump supporters who were going mad — or was it me?"
But the growing world of Never Trumpers made for good company, Boot explained. Meanwhile, Trump has turned them into bigger enemies than Democrats, calling them everything from communists, to socialists, to RINOs (Republicans in name only), traitors and far worse. Trump loyalists have tried to have NeverTrumpers fired or have their reputations destroyed. NeverTrumpers have been forced to shift to other options. They could just as easily have become what many Republicans did, licking Trump's boots and pledging loyalty in exchange for holding on to whatever power they had left. They're the ones who profited the most, he explained.
"I, for one, never imagined that there would be any personal advantage in opposing Trump. I did so simply because it was the right thing to do — and damn the consequences. All the Never Trumpers I know feel exactly the same way," Boot wrote.
The work for the coalition of NeverTrumpers isn't over, he noted.
"If Trump somehow manages to squeeze out a narrow electoral college victory — possibly by getting partisan judges to toss out mail-in ballots in swing states — then our democracy will be even more imperiled and the imperative to speak out even greater," he explained. "But even if Trump is defeated — an outcome that is likely but by no means assured — the battle for the soul of the Republican Party will continue. Trump’s supporters are not going anywhere, and, if history is any indication, they may prove even more rabid in opposition than they have been in power. Trying to create a sane center-right party in America is the work of a generation. We are just getting started."
Boot closed by explaining that he doesn't believe the party is lost. He's proud of those in the coalition for the great work that was done, but acknowledged that there's more to do to ensure someone like Trump never takes over the GOP again.