The 2024 Republican presidential primary field may be large, unless President Trump hangs around. Ironically, potential GOP contenders have increased the chances that Trump will return by refusing to call out his unconstitutional assault on the sanctity of our elections and his embrace of deranged conspiracy theories.

Let’s say Trump does not run again. When Republican candidates such as Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) come around looking for support, the country should dismiss them out of hand. They repeatedly failed basic tests of citizenship — let alone leadership — forfeiting their moral authority to serve in any government position.

Let us recall what they did and did not do (and for brevity, let’s just stick to the year 2020):

  • When evidence was replete of Trump’s impeachable acts, they refused to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton and acquitted Trump.
  • When evidence came to light that Trump had been informed of Russian bounties on the heads of U.S. troops, but repeatedly refused to raise the issue with President Vladimir Putin during phone calls, they did not insist on hearings, condemn Trump for dereliction of duty or ever demand a satisfactory explanation.
  • When Trump attempted in advance to delegitimize the election, falsely claiming absentee ballots were inherently fraudulent, they did not denounce him as undermining our democracy.
  • When the postmaster general’s conflicts of interest and deliberate slowdowns at the U.S. Postal Service came to light, they did not demand his resignation.
  • When we learned that Trump told The Post’s Bob Woodward that covid-19 was an airborne virus much more dangerous than the flu — while telling the public something entirely different — they did not demand an investigation or condemn the president’s actions.
  • When Trump denigrated mask-wearing; held packed rallies during a pandemic; took his Secret Service detail for a spin around Walter Reed National Military Medical Center despite having covid-19; held likely superspreader events at the White House; and failed to take proper precautions for White House staff, leading to scores of sick employees, they were AWOL.
  • When Trump filed dozens of spurious lawsuits and presented baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, they did not cry foul or insist the presidential transition get underway. Instead, they suggested the lawsuits should work their way through the system.
  • When Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) contacted Georgia’s secretary of state and allegedly suggested he throw out some ballots, they did not criticize him or call for any inquiry.
  • When Trump contacted a member of the Wayne County, Mich., canvassing board after her vote to certify the results (after which she attempted to retract her vote), they did not admonish the president or warn him against interfering with local officials.
  • When he called Michigan lawmakers to the White House, apparently to pressure them into putting forward a competing slate of electors for him rather than for the rightful winner in the state (by about 150,000 votes), they did not object.
  • When Trump and his lawyers specifically targeted heavily African American cities in an effort to disenfranchise them, they were quiet.
  • When it became clear that Trump had no legitimate legal claims and was trying to undo the results of a democratic election by getting state officials to thwart the will of the people, they were mute.

At every turn, these Republicans proved themselves incapable of putting country or democracy over Trump. Through their silence, they were complicit in undermining democratic elections and convincing the base that the election was stolen. They failed their basic obligations as citizens of a democracy and their oaths of office that obligate them to defend the Constitution.

It is hard to imagine any individuals less fit to serve as president — any individuals not named “Trump,” that is.

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The MAGA march on D.C. showed Trump supporters are not a monolith, but their dedication to the president is singular. (The Washington Post)

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