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McDermott: Trump’s exit hasn’t cooled the fever of Republican radicalization.

McDermott: Trump’s exit hasn’t cooled the fever of Republican radicalization.


The Arizona Republican Party last week censured Sen. John McCain’s widow for the unforgivable offense of failing to support a Republican president who’d grotesquely slandered her war-hero husband before and after his death. Oregon Republicans are babbling about the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol being a “false flag” operation by “Leftists.” Here in Missouri, state Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, has filed legislation to offer legal protection to people who shoot protesters or hit them with cars.

Former President Donald Trump’s exit from office was supposed to restore some sanity to his party. But around America, GOP officials are still bringing the crazy.

The consequences of these trips down the rabbit hole are real. Polls continue to show majorities of self-identified Republicans believe a mass-election-fraud narrative that is completely unproven and fundamentally irrational. For some, that belief has metastasized. The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a warning about the possibility of homegrown attacks by “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” harboring “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.” Which is exactly what happened on Jan. 6.

During the insurrection at the Capitol, there was much speculation that we were finally about to get an answer to the long-recurring question of What will it take? — that, surely, aiming a mob squarely at Congress with the stated purpose of overturning an election would finally, finally convince Republican politicians of Trump’s psychological unfitness for office, which was so obvious to so many others for so long. Some likened the presumably approaching sanity to a four-year fever finally breaking.

Alas. Just hours after their own lives were endangered by Trump’s lies, 147 Republican members of Congress (including one of Missouri’s senators and five of its six GOP House members) nonetheless continued backing those lies, voting against democracy — and reality — by attempting to overturn the election.

Since then, far from seeing the fever break, the patient is burning up.

In Arizona, the state GOP last week censured Cindy McCain, along with Republican former Sen. Jeff Flake and current Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. Ducey was accused of imposing “dictatorial” coronavirus lockdown rules. In fact, Arizona’s rules have been less stringent than many states, and Ducey’s critics say his pandemic actions have been too lax. McCain — whose late husband was once belittled by President Bone Spurs for having been a prisoner of war — was censured for endorsing Joe Biden, as was Flake.

You know who the state party didn’t censure? U.S. Reps. Paul A. Gosar and Andy Biggs, both of Arizona, who have been implicated by right-wing activist Ali Alexander as having helped him plan the Jan. 6 insurrection. So trying to save lives during a pandemic, or choosing to support a presidential candidate who hasn’t corrupted and degraded the GOP for the past four years, gets you censured, but not conspiring to violently overthrow an election.

No wonder Cindy McCain called her censure “a badge of honor.” And no wonder almost 10,000 registered Arizona Republicans have fled the party this month.

For every island of GOP sanity, like the 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump for his insurrection, there are vast seas of insanity — like the Oregon Republican Party, which recently passed a resolution condemning those 10 lawmakers. The resolution claims “there is growing evidence that the violence at the Capitol was a ‘false flag’ operation designed to discredit President Trump.” There is, of course, no such evidence; the entire notion is loopy. The resolution further warns of “Leftist forces seeking to establish a dictatorship void of all cherished freedom and liberties.” This is presented without irony by people who tried to disenfranchise millions of voters to overturn a valid election.

If this isn’t crazy, please define crazy.

Since “whataboutism” is a Republican sacrament these days, let’s stipulate that, yes, there is plenty of crazy on the political left, too. The difference is, the fringe elements of the left are kept exactly where they belong: on the fringe. They aren’t running state parties, controlling congressional delegations or, heaven forbid, sitting in the White House. And while notions of defunding the police or defending looting as a form a racial reparation may indicate some foggy thinking, they don’t indicate minds utterly untethered from reality. What exactly is the liberal version of QAnon? It doesn’t exist.

Speaking of QAnon: The congressional Republican leadership last week finally took a stand regarding Marjorie Taylor Greene, the newly elected Georgia representative with a history of spreading QAnon nonsense and (pay attention to this part) endorsing claims that school shootings in Connecticut and Florida were staged “false-flag” events. Ever since Greene’s election, the GOP has been debating how to handle this new lunatic in its midst.

On Wednesday, they came up with the answer: They put Greene on the House Education and Labor Committee — a plum assignment that will give her a national platform from which to torment the grieving parents of Sandy Hook.


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