People in Hawley’s elite conservative legal world were the most aggrieved. They couldn’t believe he would aid Trump’s bizarre attempt to overturn the election. “The Federalist Society must take a stand to remove anyone from leadership and to take away the legitimacy of our public forums to anyone who participated in this attack on the rule of law and our Constitution. If we cannot take that stand, then what have we been fighting for all of these years?” wrote Jeremy Rosen, a Federalist Society member and failed Trump judicial nominee, in an email to the organization’s top leaders. Oren Cass, a conservative policy wonk who has tried to develop a theory of populist economics that conservatives can champion post-Trump, wrote that Hawley’s and Cruz’s Electoral College objections were “obnoxious and self-serving, undermined vital norms, and played with a fire that in fact raged out of control.” But he still extended a hand to his ideological ally, arguing that if Hawley apologizes, he should be welcomed back into the intellectual fold. Hawley’s staff rejected Cass’s counsel. Several people in Hawley’s office publicly disaffiliated themselves from Cass’s project, the American Compass…

Hawley’s former allies have turned on him because he represents truths they do not wish to see. Most conservative voters like Trump-style politics. Many think the election was stolen. The GOP electorate is becoming more working-class and ever so slightly more racially diverse, and populist economics may appeal to these voters more than free-market orthodoxy. Hawley had once offered a redemptive fantasy to a certain kind of conservative—all the benefits of Trump with the polish of a statesman. He was supposed to save elite conservatism from Trump’s crass embrace of conspiracism, trade skepticism, and thuggish assaults on the rule of law, not mimic it. Trump 2.0 is not what Hawley’s backers thought all that specialness was for.

In the days since the attack on the Capitol, Danforth has been performing public penance. “‘Disappointed’ would be an understatement. I feel responsible,” he told me. The former senator did not seem to hate Hawley so much as grieve what he has become. “I feel that he had so much to offer. He could have been a terrific senator, and a terrific leader. Maybe presidential, who knows?” he said. Hawley had potential, intellect, and ability—a conservative version of Pat Moynihan, Danforth likes to say. “But instead of being positive and constructive, he turned out to be destructive.”