A party that selects a conspiracy theorist willing to appeal to people’s worst instincts as its representative at the top of the ticket is bound to attract and support more of the same down-ballot. It is Donald Trump who willingly and purposefully claimed the mantle of birther-in-chief during Barack Obama’s first term. It is Donald Trump who called for a Muslim ban during his campaign for the office he now holds. It is Donald Trump who, just a few months ago, while a pandemic ravaged the country, insisted that Joe Scarborough should be investigated for the “murder” of one of his former congressional interns, who died over 20 years ago.

Trump is not the first demagogue or conspiracy theorist to hold federal office. Far from it. But he is the most powerful, and the effect he has had on the quality of Republican candidates around the country has been palpably deleterious. It’s impossible to say if Loomer would be a Republican candidate for Congress were Trump not president. But it is easy to recognize that his support helped her, and that no other GOP nominee for president — or any of the other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 — would have ever considered promoting Loomer the way Trump has.