The Republican Party is now walking to the edge of moral irredeemability. I say this as someone who, until 2016, had always voted the straight Republican ticket and who, until this week, had hoped that Republicans would hold the Senate as a way of tilting the Biden administration to the center. I say this also of the party generally, and not of the courageous individual Republicans — Brad Raffensperger, Mitt Romney, Denver Riggleman, Larry Hogan, Ben Sasse (the list is depressingly short) — who have preserved their principles, maintained their honor and kept their heads these past five years.
But there is no getting away from the extent to which leading party members and their cheerleaders in the right-wing media are complicit in creating the political atmosphere in which this Visigothic sacking of the Capitol took place.
The legal hucksters, from Rudy Giuliani to Mark Levin, who promoted demonstrably debunkable claims about electoral fraud, are complicit. All of those supposedly sober-minded conservatives who encouraged the president to “pursue his legal options” (knowing full well they were bunk, but with the assurance that they would settle doubts about the validity of the vote) are complicit. The 126 House Republicans who signed on to the preposterous brief supporting the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election — flicked away in a single paragraph by the Supreme Court — are complicit. Ted Cruz, whom I once described as a “serpent covered in Vaseline” but who turns out to be considerably worse, is complicit. Josh Hawley and the rest of the Senate cynics, who tried to obstruct Biden’s election certification in a transparent bid to corner the market on Trumpian craziness, are complicit. Mike Pence, who cravenly humored Trump’s fantasies right till the moment of constitutional truth, is complicit. (If there’s an argument against Trump’s removal from office, he alone is it.)