Don't expect Ron DeSantis to denounce the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the GOP: columnist
Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis / Gage Skidmore

New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait warned that there's no chance that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is going to do anything to fix the extremism problem in the Republican Party were he to take over after Donald Trump.

Last week, Trump welcomed white supremacists and neo-Nazis Kanye "Ye" West and Nick Fuentes to Mar-a-Lago. Republicans have remained largely silent while others claimed Trump didn't know who Fuentes was. Trump also said he didn't know who David Duke was despite being told that he was a previous member of a racist hate group. Retired Gen. John Kelly, who worked last Trump's longest-serving chief of staff, said that the former president praised Adolf Hitler and those that remained loyal to him, while they were traveling in Europe to commemorate the World War II allies. Trump also championed Hitler's "economic miracle," which was previously a 1930s Nazi talking point.

Chait cited some of the top headlines in wake of the meeting.

"Well, he certainly needs better judgment in who he dines with,” said Republican Rep. James Comer (KY) speaking to NBC.

"Republicans who continue to go along for the ride with Mr. Trump are teeing themselves up for disaster in 2024," warns The Wall Street Journal editorial page.

"If people are looking at DeSantis to run against Trump, here’s another reason why," a longtime Trump adviser told NBC.

"The issue is that Trump has expanded the Republican coalition to the right, activating and encompassing undisguised white supremacists, who, through their entry into the two-party system, have gained newfound influence. This is a dangerous and historically significant change to the American political scene. And hardly anybody in the GOP — certainly not Ron DeSantis — intends to reverse it," said Chait.

Trump has played coy with extremist groups since coming down the elevator in 2015 to announce his candidacy. He shares videos saluting Nazi loyalists and J6 martyrs. Trump allies Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have both palled around with white nationalists. They're still in Congress and embraced by the GOP.

"The Republican mainstream has shrugged off Trump as an idiosyncratic personality whose behavior indicates no deeper racist or authoritarian tendency within the party. They have accordingly presented DeSantis as the solution," said Chait.

Jim Geraghty wrote that DeSantis might garner power if Donald Trump's worst impulses take over his 2024 efforts, but that doesn't mean somehow the GOP would find a conscious.

"DeSantis would reify its Trump-era transformation. One way he would do this would be to carry forward Trump’s goal of turning the state into an Orbanist weapon to entrench Republican rule. But the other is to preserve the new coalition Trump created," Chait anticipates, noting that the governor is deliberate about it.

DeSantis reached out to QAnon supporters and insurrectionists and when given the opportunity to attack a gang of Nazis attacking local Jews in Orlando, DeSantis refused to denounce them. As for pro-democracy Republicans, like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), DeSantis is against her.

Waiting for DeSantis to denounce white supremacy or Nazis has become a kind of joke. Chait cited Tablet’s Noam Blum, who claimed DeSantis is too busy to denounce Nazis or white supremacists. It simply isn't a priority.

The National Review’s Dan McLaughlin dismissed the issue entirely, saying, "Contrary to how he is characterized in the national media, Ron DeSantis’ personal approval is not required for the list of guests Floridians may invite to dinner."

Chait said they aren't the same as the trolls on Twitter, they're the right's political elite and thy know "perfectly well that DeSantis weighs in on national political and culture fights routinely. He is not too busy to attack the white-nationalist right. He wants to maintain its support but quietly."

Read the full column at New York Magazine.