Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.
The House GOP’s No. 3 leader recently urged Republicans to make clear they’re not the party of white supremacy. Two days later, one of their members spoke at a conference organized by a known white nationalist.
The whiplash between Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) plea and Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) public speech underscores just how tough it is for GOP leaders to rein in members who cater to the extreme wings of the party. As Republicans increasingly grapple with how — or even whether — to exorcise the most radical elements from their party, their leaders’ jobs won’t get any easier.
The House GOP has so far confronted no large-scale blowback from Gosar’s speech to the America First Political Action Conference, or from other incidents that link a few of its members to far-right imagery or rhetoric.
But some fear that if the conference — which just ushered in a historically diverse freshman class — doesn’t stomp out those political brush fires now, there’s a risk they will spread and engulf the party. Democrats are already trying to make QAnon, the far-reaching conspiracy theory labeled as a domestic terrorism threat by the FBI, the face of the GOP ahead of the midterms.
“I think the organization that [Gosar] spoke to is one that has expressed views that are clearly racist … This is not the kind of an organization or an event that other members of Congress should be participating in,” said Cheney, the House GOP Conference chair who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.