Anti-anti-Trumpers badly need DeSantis to win 2024 GOP nomination to excuse their cowardice: columnist
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Nebraska Steak Fry. (Right Cheer/Flickr)

A certain segment of the anti-Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party desperately needs Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president and win the GOP nomination.

While some conservative thought leaders vowed "Never Trump" in 2016 and kept their pledge, some "semi-fascist" conservatives tried to harness Trump populism to speed the collapse of democracy while other media figures, donors and operatives rationalized the celebrity businessman's grip over the GOP and twisted themselves into an anti-anti-Trump position, wrote political scientist Nicholas Grossman in a new column for The Bulwark.

"Rationalizers criticized Trump on background to reporters, but not in public," wrote Grossman, a University of Illinois professor. "Or they’d express disagreement in public, but merely on political strategy, not principle. Or maybe, when things got egregious, they’d say something on principle. But not too strenuously — down that road lies excommunication, as with former Rep. Liz Cheney — and usually with caveats that Democrats are worse."

"No matter what happened, no matter what they said in public or private, the rationalizers kept coming back," he added. "They could not, would not make a public break with the party or a final break with Trump."

Those anti-anti-Trumpers desperately need DeSantis to claim the GOP nomination to absolve themselves of their tacit support for the twice-impeached former president without actually reckoning with their responsibility for remaining silent about his corruption.

"The rationalizers need the Republican presidential nomination to go to DeSantis to validate their choice," Grossman wrote. "To show that their words, actions, and inaction since 2016 were shrewd and insightful, not obsequious and cowardly. To demonstrate that they were engaged in a wise, noble effort to hold together the party for the good of the country."

"It would let them move on from the Trump period without reckoning with their role in it," he added.

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