Can the Republican Party rein in the conspiracies?

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell took the floor after Donald Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment trial and denounced the wild and unfounded claims of “a stolen election” spouted by the former president and the US Capitol rioters who scaled walls, shattered windows, and trashed congressional offices.

“This was an intensified crescendo of conspiracy theories orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch institutions on the way out,” McConnell said of the Jan. 6 attack.

McConnell, in the end, didn’t defy the consensus in his party, and was among the 43 Senate Republicans who ultimately refused to convict Trump of inciting the attack. But he is plainly disturbed and angered by the rising power of conspiracists in his party. And he is right to be. The GOP is increasingly a party of warring forces: the right versus the ever further right, Trump and his followers versus everyone else, sense versus something untethered from reality and democratic tradition. The battle is almost sure to be the other half of the American political story during the Biden years, and the collisions ahead could well dominate the road to 2024.