It was Michael Anton, writing as Publius Decius Mus, who famously declared that support for Trump was an existential necessity for conservatives in 2016:
2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.
Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon. Conservative intellectuals will insist that there has been no “end of history” and that all human outcomes are still possible. They will even—as Charles Kesler does—admit that America is in “crisis.” But how great is the crisis? Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals? Cruz in 2024!….
See also from FW The Existential (Imagined and Real).
And now, after claiming support for Trump was a life-or-death matter?
One reads that – after insisting that life, itself, was at stake, Anton’s off to “join Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center as a writer and lecturer.”
Anton may be retreating from the field, but so many of us – millions in opposition and resistance – have no similar desire to withdraw from this conflict to points quieter.
I’ll not suggest that we are more courageous, but rather than it is we – and not men like Anton – who will see this through as a true existential matter.
We needn’t claim courage; we will not yield because we cannot. All of this – from ocean to ocean – is indivisibly ours, as it became for our forefathers, and is now equally for so many who have arrived since. America is our home, and our only home.
Those who championed an authoritarian, bigot, and confidence man may now – like Michael Anton – retreat from the conflict they began.
We, in necessary response, will remain steadfast, and see this conflict through until those who have visited begun and waged it against us meet their political ruin.