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Why 'moving on' from the Republicans' Big Lie isn't an option

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) thinks it's time to "move on" from his party's Big Lie. If only it were that simple.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) sat down with NBC News' Chuck Todd to talk about the state of his party and his perspective on what led to Rep. Liz Cheney's (R-Wyo.) ouster from the House Republican leadership. The Texas Republican argued, for example, "She refuses to apologize, which is fine. I don't think she should. But then she demands that everybody else does."

As best as I can tell, there's no public record of Cheney demanding that her House GOP colleagues apologize for anything.

And while that was odd, it was Crenshaw's next line that was arguably more important:

"I think what Kevin McCarthy was trying to say there was, 'Look, there is disagreement and it's time to move on.' We can keep having that fight if we'd like, but what is the point?"

When the "Meet the Press" host reminded the congressman that Donald Trump continues to peddle nonsense about his 2020 defeat, Crenshaw replied, "Look, he's one of many leaders in the party. He's a former president. We're five months into President Biden's presidency, and there is a time to move on."

At a certain level, I can appreciate the motivation behind the Texas Republican's "move on" rhetoric. His party's Big Lie is as ridiculous as it is dangerous, and it stands to reason that Crenshaw is reluctant to try to defend it on "Meet the Press."

But "moving on" isn't quite so simple.

As longtime readers know, one my favorite scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the one in which John Cleese's Sir Lancelot, certain he's doing the right thing on behalf of a damsel in distress, storms into a castle during a wedding party, indiscriminately slaughtering most of the guests with his sword. The castle owner, eager to curry favor with Lancelot, urges the survivors to let bygones be bygones.

"Let's not bicker and argue about who killed whom," he tells his few remaining guests.

Crenshaw's rhetoric was similar: Sure, his party took steps to overturn an American election, putting power in the hands of a president with authoritarian tendencies who'd been rejected by voters, but let's not bicker and argue about which political party attacked whose democracy.

The truth is, accountability matters. Crenshaw's GOP took a series of unprecedented and dangerous steps to reject the results of an election because Republicans didn't like American voters' decision. To this day, much of the party -- including its former president -- embraces the Big Lie, echoes the Big Lie, pretends the Big Lie is true, uses the Big Lie as the basis for fundraising, and expects rank-and-file Republican voters to believe the Big Lie.

None of this has been lost on the GOP base: Most Republican voters continue to tell pollsters that they do not see President Joe Biden's victory as legitimate.

Or put another way, we can't "move on" from the undemocratic attack, as Crenshaw suggested, in large part because the Trumpified party doesn't want to.

What's more, there's no reason to see this through a strictly retrospective lens. The Republican Party's response to the Big Lie is ongoing, with GOP officials imposing new voting restrictions, blocking voting-rights bills, and making unnerving moves into election administration, raising the prospect of empowered Republicans rejecting the certification of election results they don't like.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), ousted last week from House Republican leadership, added yesterday that there's "no question" the nation faces the prospect of additional insurrectionist violence if Trump's lies go unchecked.

"There is a time to move on," Crenshaw declared yesterday. Perhaps, but that time is not now.