The Slatest

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse: QAnon, Conspiracy Theories Are Destroying Republican Party

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) listens as Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) listens as Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images

Republican leaders have a choice to make. They can either repudiate QAnon and conspiracy theories in general or they can sit back and watch as the Republican Party is destroyed from the inside, warns Sen. Ben Sasse in a fiery piece in the Atlantic. When a group of insurrectionists stormed the Capitol earlier this month, it wasn’t just the work of individuals who acted on their own accord. But rather, it marked 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,” the senator from Nebraska writes.

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Until the Capitol riots, some Republican leaders “thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon,” Sasse writes. “They can’t. The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them.” Sasse is a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and has said he would “definitely consider” any articles of impeachment against him.

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Sasse doesn’t just talk generally about QAnon in his piece, he also directly criticizes lawmakers who have supported it, as well as leaders who have failed to denounce it. The newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” writes Sasse. She didn’t hide her penchant for conspiracy theories during the campaign but rather than disavow her candidacy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chose to stand by and now has to live with the consequences. “She’s already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president,” Sasse writes. “She’ll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party.” If there’s any hope for the Republican Party to “have a future outside the fever dreams of internet trolls, we have to call out falsehoods and conspiracy theories unequivocally.”

Sasse goes on to detail that there’s no easy way out for the GOP, saying that whatever the party does “it faces an ugly fight.” But if it hopes to play “a constructive, rather than destructive” role, “Republicans must repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire” and then “the party has to rebuild itself.” Ultimately, the choice is clear: “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.”

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