The long march back

The best place to start, however, isn’t with Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, or Josh Hawley. Their participation in this farce, as bad as it is, is mostly embarrassing and performative nonsense.

The best place to start is with the people who are actually participating, not performatively, but purposefully. I’m talking about people like Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, Kelli Ward, and anyone else who is telling the president to do whatever it takes to hold onto power. As far as I am concerned, they are not simply traitors to conservative principles—they’re traitors, full stop. If you tell the president to declare martial law to steal power, you are participating in a crime; whether criminal charges can be filed is a different matter. At minimum, these people should not be honored or celebrated. They should not be invited on right-wing TV or radio shows as courageous truth-tellers and patriots. They should be treated like dangerous crackpots who besmirch conservatism by their mere association with it. That would send a powerful signal to ambitious youngins looking to translate controversy into influence.

As for the elected officials still determined to play this dangerous game on January 6, ideally they would be stripped of committee assignments, and the party would look for suitable primary challengers for them. That will be hard, because the people participating in this Electoral College heist probably have the support of many primary voters. But as I keep saying, the GOP has a vested interest in the legitimacy of elections and the Constitution the same way the Yankees have an investment in the legitimacy of professional baseball. They also have a political investment in the survival of the Electoral College, and even though the January 6 effort will fail, they are already doing grave harm to its viability. If the GOP is going to be a serious party, it must behave seriously.