Here is what the party, and conservatism, cannot do. They cannot sit back and hope the new extremism will go away, play itself out, magically disappear. It won’t. It is going to get worse. This is the moment, while it’s fully on the table, to face it down. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is not exactly excitable and tends to choose his words carefully, called it what it is, a “cancer for the Republican Party and our country.”
The GOP and the constellation of conservatism—cable news and magazines, local party officials and state leaders—should move against this tendency, in force and together. What exists in the dark corners of the internet has to be exposed and refuted. It’s time for some frank exposés, investigations and documentaries.
Sick theories radicalize and destabilize those who hold them. They encourage disrespect, suspicion, anger and ultimately violence. Individuals and families are harmed, and so is the country.
Parties have reputations. Not everyone is passionately immersed in politics. People see politics as it goes by on their screens; they get impressions. Do Republicans want their party to seem like a serious alternative, or yet another American institution that has lost hold of reality? Suburban voters, the college-educated—they will not align with what appears to be degenerate radicalism.