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Speaker Boehner And House Leadership Address The Media After Their Closed Party Conference
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) leaves a press conference following a closed-door conference meeting at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill September 9, 2014 in Washington, DC. Former Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the Republican House members during their weekly caucus meeting, the first since their return from the summer recess. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The 'unofficial litmus test' in today's GOP: Embracing the Big Lie

To be a Republican in good standing in 2021 is to pretend the Big Lie is true.


The fact that conservative Republicans are at odds with Democrats is not surprising. What is surprising is the intensity of conservative Republicans' enmity for other Republicans who have the audacity to believe the truth about the 2020 elections. The Washington Post ran this report over the weekend:

Nearly six months after Trump lost to Biden, rejection of the 2020 election results — dubbed the "Big Lie" by many Democrats — has increasingly become an unofficial litmus test for acceptance in the Republican Party. In January, 147 GOP lawmakers — eight senators and 139 House members — voted in support of objections to the election results, and since then, Republicans from Congress to statehouses to local party organizations have fervently embraced the falsehood.

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote on Twitter this morning, "The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."

It's comments like these -- which are 100% accurate and rooted in reality -- that have turned Cheney's own members against her, made her the target of an upcoming GOP primary, and may very well cost the Wyoming congresswoman her position in the House Republican leadership.

But the problem is obviously not limited to Cheney. The Post's report added that state and local Republicans "are facing censure and threats ... for publicly accepting the election results."

The GOP's increasing hostility toward democracy is already a well documented problem, but when Republican officials are threatened for publicly accepting election results, it's indicative of a party that's struggling to function within a democracy.

Of particular interest was an anecdote out of Michigan, where the state GOP's executive director, Jason Cabel Roe, conceded in November that the 2020 election "wasn't stolen." Party activists weren't just disappointed, they decided to launch a campaign to fire him for his apostasy.

The Post spoke to Debra Ell, a Republican organizer in Michigan, who said, "I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we've learned to trust when he says something, that he's not just going to spew something out there that's wrong and not verified."

There was no indication that Ell was kidding.

She added that the state GOP's executive director also "didn't blame the Democrats for any election fraud," which is true, since in reality, there wasn't any meaningful election fraud.

In other words, there are contingents in Republican politics who aren't just eager to root out Trump skeptics -- reminiscent of the loyalty purges Team Trump launched after the former president's first impeachment -- but are also eager to punish those who accept the reality of the 2020 presidential election, even if they're pro-Trump.

To be a Republican in good standing in 2021 is to pretend the Big Lie is true.