The orthodoxy about the stolen election, in contrast, forces Republican politicians to say something that is untrue and most know to be untrue; it institutionalizes a politics of cynicism and fear — fear both of Trump and his voters; it detracts from a focus on the ongoing failures of Biden; and it isn’t helpful in winning over swing voters who care more about the cost of living than what cellphone geolocation data supposedly tells us about the movements of ballot harvesters in 2020.
Pence, Kemp and Raffensperger are notable for having run through the Trump gauntlet in 2020 without buckling and still pursuing active political careers. Forthrightness about Trump and 2020 is usually associated with politicians on their way to retirement. It’s possible to read too much into Kemp and Raffensperger’s victories, which would have been difficult to pull off without the advantages of incumbency and of flawed opponents, while Pence will have much to overcome if he runs in 2024.
But in refusing to play by the rules as set by Trump, they have shown courage that should be encouraging to others in the party. Being an ambitious Republican doesn’t have to mean promoting or accepting falsehoods about 2020 for fear of a lawman whose firepower and writ aren’t quite as advertised.