Washington, DC – Two years after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of the attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, there is still more to learn, and many more who must be held accountable. And the lies and conspiracy theories that motivated the violence that day still threaten public safety and our democracy. Opposition to immigrants and immigration is a foundational aspect of MAGA and GOP extremism, built on the idea that a multiracial democracy is an illegitimate democracy. Nativism remains the beating heart of the Republican Party in the Trump/MAGA era.
The following is a statement from America’s Voice Political Director, Zachary Mueller:
“Two years ago, the nation watched in shock and horror as a mob fueled by hate and lies waged a deadly assault on the Capitol as part of a coordinated effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Even after that assault, which targeted Vice President Mike Pence and leaders of both the House and Senate, eight Republican Senators and 147 House Republicans voted to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election. It should not be lost on any of us that among those 147 Republicans were its caucus leaders, including Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik, and Jim Jordan.
Tragically, far from chastening Republican leaders, the GOP has spent the last two years making the anti-democratic and bigoted conspiracy theories that drove the Jan. 6 attack its central ethos. These threats to democracy and public safety from fear-driven political violence are ongoing, emanating from a GOP that has chosen to embrace conspiracies, extremism and lies as their core political strategy.
This strategy has led to internal chaos and a poor performance at the ballot box. Throughout 2022, Republicans and many pundits fully believed the GOP would take control of the Senate and the House by wide margins. With the slimmest of majorities, after the multi-racial majority largely rejected the GOP’s extremism, House Republicans are demonstrating that a politics built on fear, bigotry, and lies is antithetical to the actual work of governing. Unfortunately, the GOP’s chaos, cruelty, and failure to govern comes at the expense of the American people. And though their coup attempt ultimately failed and their extremism tempered their party’s political success, Republicans have again doubled down on the very ideas that brought us to this point.
Until Republicans face sufficient political consequences to force a meaningful change, the threat to public safety, our fundamental rights, and democracy will continue. The United States is a multiracial democracy, despite GOP attempts to change this fundamental reality. This day should be remembered for both the coup attempt and the nation that has stood firm against the insurrectionists, and we should recommit ourselves to reaffirming our core democratic principles this and every other day.”
The lies, violence, and hate that underpinned the attack on the capital two years ago now run through the GOP’s everyday politics.
- The twin lies of a fraudulent election and white replacement drove the insurrectionists and GOP midterm strategy. The lies about a stolen election were at the heart of the January 6 attack, but an analysis from the University of Chicago’s CPOST found “Great Replacement fears [are the] most important driver of insurrectionist movement,” – the white nationalist conspiracy theory that elites, Jews, the left, or Democrats are facilitating an invasion of non-white migrants to usurp the democratic process. These intertwined lies of election fraud and voters being replaced were also ubiquitous in the GOP’s midterm campaign, with the Washington Post identifying nearly 300 election deniers on the Republican ticket for the 2022 midterms, while America’s Voice GOP message tracking project found well over 700 examples of GOP candidates amplifying the “white replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies.
- The threat of mass political violence and stochastic terrorism is ongoing. Horrifically, in May of 2022, the lies of “white replacement” and “invasion” inspired another mass murderer who gunned down ten people in Buffalo, New York. In the days following, leading Republicans like Elise Stefanik doubled down on the rhetoric. As Republicans continue to amplify and legitimize the lies that have a track record of motivating violence, they are engaging in stochastic terrorism – as the New York Times describes it, “seemingly random acts of violence that are, in fact, provoked by ‘coded language, dog whistles and other subtext’ in statements by public figures.” In the face of the violence associated with their election denialism, nativism, and other forms of extremism, Republicans continue to risk public safety with their rhetoric.
Through purely a political lens, this has been a strategic failure. After running on election denialism, ethno-nationalism, and other forms of extremism, the GOP wildly underperformed in the midterms.
- As our post-election report, “MAGA Extremism Failed at the Ballot Box” details, Republicans’ embrace of white nationalist rhetoric and election denialism was one component of the GOP’s larger extremism that many voters – especially swing voters – rejected. Several of the battleground candidates were also involved in the events around January 6.
- Rep. Elise Stefanik is the exemplar of the GOP’s transition to the politics of January 6 and a losing record at the ballot box. Transitioning quickly from “moderate” to “ultra MAGA,” Stefanik won the third-ranking House Republican position, replacing ousted Rep. Liz Cheney by downplaying January 6 and embracing election denialism. Stefanik also became a loud promoter of the “white replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies. But Stefanik had a particularly brutal win/loss record through the lens of her 2022 midterm candidate endorsements as an America’s Voice analysis found. In 28 of the 36 battleground Republican districts where she endorsed candidates, the Stefanik-endorsed candidate went down to defeat – a 78% loss rate. Many of these candidates also adopted the same deadly white nationalist “invasion” and “replacement” conspiracies in their campaign message as she did.
- Former senior Trump advisor Stephen Miller, whose white nationalist politics and strategy have come to dominate the party, is another avatar of the radicalization and failure inside the GOP. The 2022 midterms should be the death knell in Miller’s political strategy as major candidates across the country adopted it, and about $100 million later, have very little to show. But instead, Kevin McCarthy reportedly brought Miller in as he plotted his bid for the Speaker’s office.
Despite the losses, the GOP is doubling down on its divisive politics. The chaos from the House Republican leadership elections is a telling example of the effects of adopting the politics of insurrection. The GOP appears set to remain held captive by its hard-right wing throughout the next two years, and at the forefront of their efforts will be the violence-inspiring conspiracy theories that drove that deadly day two years ago.