In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, common sense — and common decency — suggested anyone involved in the day's events would be politically and permanently toxic.
Or so it seemed at the time.
BuzzFeed reported last week that at least 13 Republicans "who came to Washington for Jan. 6" would appear on Nov. 2 ballots, including state legislative candidates.
The article added, "While ten of these candidates went to the Capitol on Jan. 6, all have either denied entering the building or not spoken about their involvement. None has been charged for their activities on Jan. 6. The other three candidates have said they solely attended the 'Stop the Steal' rally that preceded the insurrection and did not go to the Capitol. But that rally was explicitly premised on attempting to overturn the 2020 election."
In an unsettling sign of the times, many of these candidates won. HuffPost reported yesterday:
At least eight Republicans who attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., that turned into a deadly insurrection were elected to office Tuesday. Three were elected to state legislatures, and five won positions at the local level.
There's apparently some debate about the precise figure of wins — a Washington Post report said the number is "at least seven," while HuffPost puts the total at eight — but either way, we can safely say that most of the Republicans who sought elected office after having participated in Jan. 6 events were successful.
It was against this backdrop that Perry Bacon Jr. wrote in his new column that voters who treat the Republican Party as "normal" are making a mistake.
He added, "[I]n our current abnormal circumstance, with U.S. democracy on the precipice because of the extremism of the current GOP, everyone needs to understand that normal could well be catastrophic."
It's a thesis that's near and dear to me because it's a central theme of my book. I wrote in the first chapter:
Many voters have grown accustomed to the idea of a national competition pitting two governing parties against each other. One has a more progressive vision, the other a more conservative one, but for most Americans, Democrats and Republicans are basically mirror images of one another, each with an internal range of opinions. The electorate has long had reason to assume that both major parties were mature and responsible policymaking entities, their philosophical differences notwithstanding. The actions of the Republican Party over the last decade have made it abundantly clear that it's time to reevaluate that assumption.
A year later, as GOP candidates succeed after having participated in Jan. 6 events, the assumption appears even more absurd.