In a blistering op-ed for The Atlantic published Saturday, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, warned his fellow Republicans that GOP is quickly becoming “the party of conspiracy theories” and urged his fellow Republicans to reject the QAnon conspiracy theory before it “destroys the GOP from within.”
Sasse’s fiery op-ed comes days after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people, including a Capitol Hill Police officer, dead over baseless claims of voter fraud pushed by Trump.
Incited by the president, MAGA rioters breached the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote that broke for President-elect Joe Biden, claiming that the election was “stolen” from Trump.
Several QAnon members were photographed during the violent riot, including a man wearing a horned helmet and face paint colloquially known as the “QAnon Shaman.”
Believers of the theory allege without evidence that Trump is working to “expose the U.S. government’s capture by a global network of cannibalistic pedophiles.” Several newly elected lawmakers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), have been associated with the theory, though she later walked back her support due to “misinformation.”
In his editorial, the Nebraska Republican states that the riots that took place at the Capitol were not a result of a “few bad apples” but rather a “seed” that Republicans allowed to grow in the party over time, including these theories.
“It is 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,” Sasse wrote.
Sasse said that when Trump leaves office, the GOP has a choice to uphold the Constitution or “become a party of conspiracy theories.”
“When Trump leaves office, my party faces a choice: 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, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them,” he said.
“We can be the party of Eisenhower, or the party of the conspiracist Alex Jones,” Sasse continued, referring to Jones, who is a conspiracy theorist.
Sasse also accused some of his Republican colleagues of “winking” at conspiracy theorists while continuing to “preach” the Constitution.
“Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon. They can’t,” Sasse wrote. “The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about.”
The Nebraska lawmaker also criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for not disavowing Greene’s campaign and called the first-year lawmaker “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
“During her campaign, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a choice: disavow her campaign and potentially lose a Republican seat, or welcome her into his caucus and try to keep a lid on her ludicrous ideas. McCarthy failed the leadership test and sat on the sidelines,” Sasse opined.
Greene stated this month that she plans to bring articles of impeachment against Biden the day after his inauguration. Sasse acknowledged her plan, writing, “She’ll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party,” he said.
Sasse concluded, stating that in order to play a “constructive part” in America’s future, the GOP must “repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire” and “rebuild itself” by offering a “genuine answer to the frustrations of the past decade.”
“In a standoff between the Constitution and madness, both men picked a side,” Sasse said. “It’s the GOP’s turn to do the same.”