Republican cries for unity in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol underscore how definitively the party rejects the notion of personal responsibility. The virtue was among the cornerstones of a once values-based party; now, most Republicans want not only to escape responsibility for their part in inciting the violence but also to avoid talking about it at all. This position is consistent with the moral nihilism that now characterizes the members of the GOP. They say and do whatever serves their interests, without regard to moral or legal consequences. But that does not mean the rest of us have to play along.

Whenever Republicans in the Sedition Caucus — including those who signed the brief supporting the lawsuit that would disenfranchise millions of Americans; who raised baseless objections to Arizona or Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes; or who objected to impeaching President Trump — appear before the media, they need to be pressed to answer the following:

  • Did Joe Biden lawfully and fairly win the 2020 election?
  • Wasn’t there only a handful of voter fraud cases in the election, none of which would have changed the outcome in any state?
  • Was it wrong and dangerous for Trump to tell voters the election was stolen? Wrong for members of Congress?
  • Should you have told your constituents the truth and swiftly recognized Biden as the winner?
  • Do you understand how disinformation provoked the attack on the Capitol?
  • Was it wrong for the Trump campaign to seek to throw out votes from states that Biden won? Was there any factual basis for this demand?
  • Was there any factual basis for objecting to the electoral college votes?
  • After the siege, was it wrong for members of Congress to continue objecting to the results, furthering the aims of the insurrectionists?
  • Trump invited his followers to D.C., fed them the poison of a stolen election and then incited them to march on the Capitol. Was that impeachable?
  • Should we tell future presidents that if they commit sedition in the last weeks of their presidency, they can avoid impeachment?
  • Do you regret your role in any of this?

Members of the Sedition Caucus will try to change the subject. They will engage in whataboutism, finding some perceived offense — in no way comparable to violent sedition — to implicate Democrats. They will do anything but answer these sorts of questions because the only plausible answers are: Biden was the indisputable winner; there was no extensive fraud; there was no basis for telling the public otherwise or for seeking to overturn the results; and it is entirely unacceptable for any president to lie about the election results and incite a violent attempt to block his successor from taking office.

Those obvious and indisputable answers make plain that those in the Sedition Caucus behaved in utterly irresponsible ways inconsistent with their oaths. It would lead to the conclusion that they should be booted out of office.

It is for this reason that the Sedition Caucus should be compelled to answer these questions. They want to move on because to do otherwise would reveal them as enablers of sedition and con artists manipulating an unhinged mob.

But the questions should not be directed solely to the Sedition Caucus. Right-wing pundits, TV anchors, radio talk-show hosts, activists, staff and the rest of the echo chamber on the right need to come to terms with reality and their own roles in this desecration of democracy.

An entire industry of right-wing media personalities has profited from messages to MAGA audiences that they are looked down upon, are under siege for their religious views and are going to be swamped by immigrants. It has manipulated millions of people, telling them they are victims, the consequence of which was to undermine democracy and light a fire under a violent segment of their base. This is why the right-wing media hacks want to move on as well.

Without a full accounting of the toxic state of the right, few people, if any, will own up to their roles in the events leading to Jan. 6. They will continue doing what they have always done, and the result will be the ongoing deterioration of our democracy and the festering of the fascist mob.

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