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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Jayne: Republicans take wrong turn

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Page Editor
Published: April 11, 2021, 6:02am

There must be a better strategy.

Instead, local Republicans keep pulling a General Custer in an attempt to dethrone Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler.

It might be a reasonable desire – if Herrera Beutler were not a member of their own party. And if she had not been elected to Congress six times. And if it were not built upon lies and enmity and general nuttiness.

Alas, a faction of local Republicans – a small faction, we can hope – has fallen victim to the virus that is infecting party members throughout the country.

“You are ready to engage in the battle,” Heidi St. John feverishly said. “The left is trying to take our nation off of a cliff.”

St. John was speaking at a recent candidate forum featuring Republicans hoping to unseat Herrera Beutler in 2022. Three candidates thus far have announced that they are running for the seat, and the only thing they appear to have in common – aside from a lack of qualifications – is ridiculous rhetoric.

“What the left is doing is very deliberate,” candidate Joe Kent said. “They’re going after our family units, they’re going after our culture. They have full control of the media. They have the full control of the education system.”

So, we are in a battle to avoid going off the cliff because Democrats are going after our culture and have full control of the education system. Which might sound scary if you are paranoic. Or it might sound absurd if you are moderately well-adjusted.

Which is a problem. Because there are many well-adjusted Republicans, but their voices are being drowned out by the extremists who have hijacked their party.

“Extremists” is a loaded term. And it can apply just as accurately to some leftists and members of the Democratic Party. But for all of the incendiary hyperbole on either side, there is one striking difference – leftists haven’t tried to overthrow the government.

It would make moral and political sense for Republicans to rethink their strategy in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Donald Trump lost the presidential election – a fact confirmed after dozens of lawsuits and vote recounts and members of Trump’s own administration saying it was the most secure election in U.S. history – but insisted that he won. And when his words helped instigate the riot and his actions allowed it to continue, Herrera Beutler rightly voted for his impeachment.

You know all that; but the cognitive dissonance demonstrated by challengers to Herrera Beutler must be called out. “The way that the bureaucrats, technocrats, social media and our media moved in lockstep to take away our vote in 2020,” Kent said at the forum. “And then they told us that we couldn’t even question it, and if we did we’d be branded as insurrectionists, fringy people, white supremacists and a host of other derogatory terms.”

Well, hundreds of Trump supporters were – literally – insurrectionists. They attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to halt the democratic process.

And, actually, they could question it. They did so with 60-some lawsuits that were rejected – even by Trump-appointed judges. The lawsuits were rejected because they had no merit, and one Trump lawyer subsequently admitted in court that, “No reasonable person would conclude that the statements (about election fraud) were truly statements of fact.”

So, we have Trump supporters being told by one of their own lawyers that they are not reasonable people. It seems that should lead to some soul-searching instead of doubling down on the absurdity.

It seems that Republicans might want to rethink their strategy. In the long run, anger and an obsession with propagating culture wars is not an efficient way to strengthen your party or attract converts. And when all that fails, the new approach in many states is to pass laws designed to suppress the vote.

Instead of clinging to a loser of a presidential candidate or stoking fear about what the left is doing to our culture, there is a simpler strategy that Republicans should embrace: Support policies that people actually like.