Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The First Rule of the Insurrection... that you don't talk about the insurrection. At least, that's the rule in the GOP presidential primaries. There was a time when people like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley lambasted the insurrectionists and blamed Donald Trump for the events of that day. But then January 7, 2021, arrived and the revisionism began. These days, the folks who dare to challenge Trump for his throne, even Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), are pretending 1/6 never happened and are refusing to go after the former president for encouraging his followers to attempt to overturn the election results.

For the moment, the "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil" approach, while cowardly, is working for the various aspiring Republicans. That said, whether it will continue to work, especially once the campaign heats up, is an open question. The MAGA Militia knows full well how the non-Trump candidates really feel about 1/6, and are beginning to draw negative inferences from their general silence. The day may soon come when a DeSantis or a Pence or a Haley, if they want to butter up the base, have to screw on a smile and speak of the insurrection as a positive occurrence. Not helping things is that silence is being interpreted not only as a sign that a candidate is not MAGA enough, but also that they are in the bag for the business elite and/or the deep state.

Of course, once the general election arrives, the calculation becomes even more complex for an aspiring Republican president. Other members of the red team might be willing to be part of the conspiracy of silence, but certainly Joe Biden (or any other Democratic nominee) won't. If Trump somehow gets the nod again, then bumper stickers write themselves: "Vote Biden. He's Never Tried to Overthrow the Government." And if DeSantis or some other non-Trump Republican is the nominee, there are going to be constant, uncomfortable questions from reporters and debate moderators about 1/6. That non-Trump Republican can either choose to aggravate the base, or they can choose to aggravate the centrist and independent voters they will need. And note that refusing to answer questions is going to play right into Democratic messaging, so the strong, silent act is not a solution here. It really is a difficult time to be a Republican politician. (Z)

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