Republican Sen. Ben Sasse blasted his own political party in an essay over the weekend, condemning the embrace of conspiracy theories by some in the GOP, which Sasse claimed planted the seeds that resulted in the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
What did Sasse say?
The Nebraska Republican did not mince words, writing in The Atlantic that the Republican Party must reclaim its identity after President Donald Trump's departure from the White House — or risk falling into political obscurity.
"The violence that Americans witnessed—and that might recur in the coming days—is not a protest gone awry or the work of 'a few bad apples.' It is the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice," Sasse wrote.
He continued, "When Trump leaves office, my party faces a choice: We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them. We can be the party of Eisenhower, or the party of the conspiracist Alex Jones."
Criticizing GOP leaders for trying to "preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon," Sasse wrote that the "GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them," before criticizing newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in particular.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. She once ranted that "there's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it." During her campaign, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a choice: disavow her campaign and potentially lose a Republican seat, or welcome her into his caucus and try to keep a lid on her ludicrous ideas. McCarthy failed the leadership test and sat on the sidelines. Now in Congress, Greene isn't going to just back McCarthy as leader and stay quiet. She's already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president. She'll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party.
What is the path forward?
According to Sasse, there are three reasons why those who identify with Republican politics are "falling prey to the siren song of conspiracism."
- "America's junk-food media diet," in which Sasse blamed mainstream media and right-leaning media for creating echo-chambers
- "America's institutional collapse," which Sasse said created a vacuum, which Big Tech has filled
- "America's loss of meaning," which Sasse said, "For generations, most Americans understood themselves as children of a loving God, and all had a role to play in loving their neighbors. But today, many Americans have no role in any common story."
If the Republican Party wants to have a place in national politics moving forward, Sasse said it must do two things.
"First, Republicans must repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire," Sasse explained. "Second, the party has to rebuild itself. It must offer a genuine answer to the frustrations of the past decade."
"Whatever the Republican Party does, it faces an ugly fight," Sasse predicted. "The fracture that so many politicians on the right have been trying desperately to avoid may soon happen."