Home Featured Has the GOP lost its mind over Donald Trump and election fraud?

Has the GOP lost its mind over Donald Trump and election fraud?

Has the GOP lost its mind over Donald Trump and election fraud?

has the Republican Party lost its mind and its way in its slavish Devotion to Donald Trump who insists that the 2020 election was stolen from him through extensive voter fraud that's the question that journalist Robert Draper investigates in his new book Weapons of Mass delusion which looks at Rising Republican Stars such as Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor green and failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Carrie Lake who are DieHard Trump Loyalists and established Party leaders such as likely Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy who is openly terrified to cross the former president reason spoke with Draper shortly after the midterm elections in which the GOP had an unexpectedly poor showing against a massively unpopular Joe Biden is this a sign that Trump's hold on his party and the country is weakening and is there any reason to believe that the party of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater May return to its small government Roots Draper also reflects on his 2014 New York Times magazine cover story as the libertarian moment finally arrived which prominently featured reasons Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch [Music] Robert Draper thanks for talking to reason thanks for having me on Nick all right well let's uh start with the elevator pitch of weapons of mass delusion when the Republican Party lost its mind sure this is not a history book it is a book about a snapshot in time that I believe is of historical significance um and that is a roughly 16 to 18 month period that began with January the 6th 2021 um when I was inside the capitol that day and that moment of Madness it would have seemed to me would have would have been the moment for the Republican party to descend into a kind of humble meditation take stock of their role in the in their Insurrection and they are upon Endeavor to purge the corrosive elements uh in their party that led to the Insurrection instead what they did of course was something very different they doubled down on it and um and the Maga movement and the disinformation that propelled it became the uh gravitational Center basically of the Republican party this book had me doing a deep repertoryal dive into the Republican Party during that period can I uh do you have a politics are you a Republican or a Democrat or an independent registered independent and I've been that way since I've been an adult I'm I um and generally speaking my my politics aren't terribly interesting you know I'm not really an ideologue I'm more anthropological I mean I vote you know but um uh but I've voted for Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians with equal levels of remorse and recrimination you know so and ineffectiveness I assume at least that's right um so let me ask because or let's start with you talk about um you know and and the book is richly reported uh you're obviously a uh you know a stylist uh with you know without parallel or with few peers uh writing and long-form journalism today um so um it's it's great to read on uh you know just on that level but on uh I think it's page 199 or 195 or thereabouts you talk about three lies um and within within weeks of the Insurrection of the riot at the Capitol Building you say the chain of Lies had come to form a perfect circle the first lie the big lie was that the election was stolen the second lie was that the steel could be unstolen on January 6 whether through legal or extra legal means and the third and final lie was that those who attempted to unsteel it were in fact not Trump supporters and I kind of want to walk through those real quick and then I want to talk about some of the characters because um you know the I mean the subtitle of your book is when the Republican Party lost its mind we are dealing with a lack of Engagement with you know with reality on the part of this party or at least a significant portion of it let's start with the big lie that the election was stolen and that starts even before the 2020 election right but it does how did that come into being and that is mostly Trump kind of promoting that front and center it is with a buck that comes after that but first to address the Trump aspect of it I mean we're talking about a guy who simply stated has been a sore loser all his life and whenever he has lost his son he's a sore winner as well I mean yeah true yeah yeah there's no there's no grace to the guy um but whenever he has lost he's tended to blame someone else the very first political contest he was in you'll recall Nick was the Iowa caucus of 2016.

He lost to Ted Cruz he claimed the crews had rigged it he subsequently did that with Wyoming and Colorado caucuses and in the run-up to the 26th election said you know if um uh Hillary's going to try to rig it against me even as you point out when he did win he still said he would have won New Hampshire but for the rigging that supposedly took place so and and so that that's that's been Trump's game for a while but it played into two things and it took me a while to appreciate um these two other elements one was that the this lie the notion that if the Democrats win in 2020 it would only be because they stole it play into a long-standing view amongst Republicans the Democrats steal they cheat all the time and it's and you can talk to run a mill Republicans throughout the decades and this is what they've been told and they accept it the way they casually accept that Hillary Clinton is a crook um and so calling her crooked Hillary may not have been a polite company way to say it but it just been widely assumed absent however any indictment much less a conviction that Clinton um wasn't correct so that's one thing that um Trump was tapping into whether he was aware of it or not at the time but the broader um uh thing that that Trump tapped into with his stolen election claims was a sense of loss a sense of forfeiture on the part of large swaths of non-college educated white working-class Americans who believed that America as they knew it was being stolen from them bit by bit and so that their Champion um had been that his victory had been thwarted through um ill-gotten gains uh fed metaphorically and in all other meaningful ways into this notion that um that the rightful Owners of America were having their America stolen from them so those are you know the subtexts of Trump's outrageous claims and I think why it is the tens of millions of people bought into these claims because I I was uh in preparation for this I was looking up it's still you know they're not asking pollsters aren't asking this question as much as they used to but going back to earlier this year something like 70 percent of Republicans still say that Joe Biden was not fairly elected and that could mean a lot of things but it's also true that you know it wasn't just Trump in the 2016 election I can recall both Hillary and Trump saying you know what the system is rigged the system isn't working the system is rigged Bernie Sanders would say that in a more particularly in 2016 it was more in a class thing that you know uh the capitalists or or you know the Fat Cats the one percent the system is rigged against you you know the normal working-class person Trump's version of that is much more overblown and more seems more targeted or was more targeted towards this kind of sense of dispossessed white people mostly men not always uh and increasing I guess in 2020 less white than previously right I mean so it's part I mean and I think that's important and I you you kind of touch on that in the book this sense of being dispossessed by large over overarching conspiracies is kind of not quite the right word but systems that don't give a [ __ ] about you and you're done and you know Trump Taps into that right that's part of what he's speaking to that's right I mean it of course it was ironic that um you know it always seemed a bit dubious from the outset that this billionaire real estate developer from Manhattan could be the champion of the working class but the way he sold himself to people who lived in States like South Carolina and Georgia that Trump only knew from the golf courses there was by I'm sharing the same enemies with them you know that's that's how uh I think he wedded their appetite for him by by talking about how China had screwed them over how um how the government had basically given away the store and these trade deals how the Border was wide open and people were taking these things from them and so uh after a while they they loved um they love that language that Trump was was speaking they loved as well how he would say it and take whatever slings and arrows came his way and so I think those were the two um overlapping elements that that um uh that made Trump the guy when it seemed so unlikely that he would be that individual yeah and um but then there Comes This Moment On election night I mean because part of it is you know Trump in 2020 you know when the election when the the polls shut down because of you know it's late in the night he's kind of ahead the popular vote or whatever but everybody knows there are tons of votes to be counted because of early voting mail and voting all of that kind of stuff and then I mean Trump obviously obviously goes with this but so do a lot of people who should know better to say that you know if Trump you know he's the winner on Election night when not all the votes have been counted because a lot of them have been cast weeks ahead of time and won't be candidate until weeks after but if he's not declared the winner then it's fraud um right who you know who are the progenitors of that kind of mindset and um you know that seems to take over in a big way too sure and I and I think that hard hard to say who's the absolute first who came up with that notion um but we do know some people who acted on that notion some people who are the great amplifiers of of that notion and um you know for example a right-wing congressman from Arizona named Paul gosar who uh had um hosted the first stop the steel rally which happened to be in Phoenix the day after the election ghosts are like a lot of Republicans was relying entirely on experience and and Nick I feel like you and I have had conversations more or less around this before about the big sort and about um how people have become isolated and and um uh not only geographically but also in terms of the information they gravitate towards that there is basically an information outlet that fits anyone's biases and and so what this would mean for a poem ghost arm is that all they knew were Republicans and that when gosar actually went door-to-door canvassing in Arizona to get people to vote for Trump he would say um and his chief of staff told me about this that you know I didn't meet any Biden voters they just simply didn't exist so it just simply made no sense that this guy could come up with so many votes and Flash Forward to um a person will likely get to in a few minutes um congresswoman Marjorie Taylor dream I was having dinner with green a month ago something like this and and she said to me Robert I had said to her that she was delusional about the 2020 election and um and she said Robert you need to tell me do you do you really believe that Joe Biden got 81 million votes and I said yeah yeah I mean that's what you got that's that that's the organizing principle of the of of your conspiracy theory that because you can't imagine this but in fact that played a big role that um everyone she knew was a trump supporter every uh every time especially in 2020 that there was a crowd it was a crowd for Donald Trump meanwhile Biden and other people weren't campaigned because of covet and and uh and it it just was too stupefying an ocean for them but then at the same time they would say and but Trump got 74 million votes he got more votes than he had the first time he had to have won if his vote totals went up but then we we're not going to count I mean there's so so much magical thinking that the same system that seems to tabulate Trump's votes doesn't count when it's counting up Biden's votes it also it you know it also fails to recognize the Trump you know was a walking anomaly anyway in 2016 um he came seemingly out of nowhere he didn't win the popular vote but he still he won a lot and in defiance of what pollsters and pundits had imagined he would do but that was because a lot of people couldn't stand Hillary Clinton and were willing to take a chance on this disrupter yeah why that would you know um be so bizarre for them to recognize the possibility that this same anomaly would um uh the independence and other swing voters would ultimately find that experiment to be a bad one would find it to be distasteful it would move away towards this very boring guy um because they decided to go for operation boring over operation you know chaos and and um the the anomaly worked for them before and didn't work for the second time doesn't ex doesn't erase the fact that Trump was going to live and die you know by his own anomalous characteristics um you know the second part then the second lie is that the vote you know the stolen election could be turned back um and that leads us to January 6 and you know I tend to call it a riot not an Insurrection um your uh your um kind of depiction of it from inside and using different sources really amazing and powerful and I if uh people don't read the full book read that because it's it's a really Vivid account of you know of the violence that was going on it's not not yeah I mean it is a mob it's a mob generally without weapons I mean they're not shooting guns but there's a lot of violence there and if you you know for people who took seriously Ryan kits that came out of black lives matter marches or other kinds of things like you really gotta you know you you gotta read this part of the book and and take this seriously um but talk about where the idea came that if somehow you know if Mike Pence if uh you'd have said magic words or that there was you know I mean because did anybody really believe that you know the Q Anon shaman was going to take over the Capitol building and then the you know Trump would somehow become president like where did that theory which is totally fabulous you know or you know it's just Fantastical that you could stop the election of Joe Biden by doing something with you know the Capitol building on January 6th yeah I mean I think the the to the extent that there is a unifying theory in all of this Nick that the unifying theory was in mega World Trump is our champion he won um uh victory was stolen from him he has said come to D.C uh will be wild uh he has done everything for us the only things he he's asked for us is two things first to vote and now to come to Washington and fight like hell as he would say on January the 6th and but I think beyond that kind of consensus view um there then get to be these these you know when you disaggregate it there's certainly people who showed up believing and probably this this constitutes the majority of people who just showed up saying you know we want to support our our president and and when I was there and outside the capitol um there were a lot of elements that looked like the standard issue Mega rally of which I've attended you know 15 or something like that there was another group of people smaller but um but still pretty large who believed that um we need to do something Beyond support we need to take our country back and you know if if you believed as these people did that democracy have been thwarted have been weaponized against them um then you'd want to take action and and I think most of those people came to the Capitol not entirely sure what form that would take but they were the ones who constitute the real mob where the third smallest subsection of all are the violent actors who came you know with um with the intent uh with with Insurrection on the brain you know The Oath Keepers of five percent Etc and uh um but they couldn't have done it without a mob and and you know those were the people that I heard outside the Capital once I got outside the building and who were like this guy I heard talking to his teenage son saying you know son's free Freedom isn't free sometimes you have to fight for it like our forefathers did and I think now is that time and it disappeared towards the building I don't know what the hell happened to them after that but it's but as I was among this kind of pulsing mob the the sense that I had was this is absolutely out of control and um and violence once there is an obvious Target is the obvious conclusion of this there turned out not to be an obvious Target but had there been a Mike Pence nearby had there been a Nancy Pelosi an AOC or anything I mean God help them you know and uh um it is a miracle in fact you know and also a feat of of Capital Security um that there was not more Bloodshed that day but then kind of the larger legal theories and stuff like that because you still hear I I'm you know and I I mean a variety of not a very variety a majority of Republicans did not certify the elections right the election results did they I mean do those people think you know by not signing on that they're going to change the election result or are they just kind of showing solidarity with you know ill Supremo Donald Trump or right well so absent you know absent a thorough survey of all of them no such survey exists I can only conjecture based on the interviews that I've done and that's that there were some who truly believed funny business was afoot and an absolute minimum there needed to be a pause on the process so that we could look into all of this stuff but I would say a significant majority of Republicans who voted um to not to certify were ones who were scared shitless frankly and who were they scared of they were scared of their constituents you know and and in real time and I mentioned this in in my book a freshman from Michigan named Peter Meyer who would subsequently vote to impeach and would subsequently be successfully primary and bounced from office uh you know after one term was getting these texts from donors and other constituents saying hey don't wimp out you know don't let a few broken windows scare you from doing the right thing here and and and that is when we ask the question so why did you know all these Republicans who seem to believe because they experienced it firsthand um that something terrible had taken place that we as a democracy needed to turn away from why did they turn away from that notion the short answer is they went home they went home and listened to the constituents but in but in even in those days leading up to January the 6th um you know their belief then and later was um uh and I heard this I can't count how many times I heard this Nick from Republicans who would say look you know if I object um uh then I'll get primary if I get primary to the right of me I'll probably lose if I lose that person who comes to office will be Marjorie Taylor green want another one of those or would you Meyers yeah or in Myers district and he replaced the ma Justin Amash who you know the Republican who became an independent voted to impeach Trump became libertarian before not running for reelection because he knew he was going to be primaried that time by Peter Meyer who then got primaried by a trump candidate who yeah who was you know just ridiculous and now that district is gone right yeah so it's it's not even like you get a trump person yeah it's it's very um peculiar so then the final part of this lie which and this is where reality really takes kind of a Permanent Vacation which is you have many of the people who were implicated in January 6 and some you know some politicians saying well you know what like January 6 was a bad thing but it wasn't Trump supporters and Donald Trump didn't have anything to do with it because it was antifa where it was a false flag operation by the FBI and the CIA and you know the you know the PTA or something something where is that coming from and is does that have serious legs or is that just the worst kind of people who know they're they're guilty of something uh even if it's just bad thinking you know just want to try and make something go away well I think that where it it really comes from is um I uh a right-wing media ecosystem that knows that this stuff sells and has become a cottage industry um the whole January 6th political persecution is itself you know a cottage industry but you're referring Nick specifically you know to this guy Alan Hostetter who um interesting story a guy who um had been a police chief in a town in Orange County California ultimately left became a yoga instructor not very political at all then the pandemic hits he becomes radicalized by all of that and becomes a big stop the steal proponent uh when Trump does his you know come to Washington will be wild hostile better starts recruiting people to this task and and uh and on social media saying that violence is the likely outcome and he's he's here for it you know time to string people up time to execute the treasonous people he um participates uh in January the 6th he's um he is ultimately uh indicted for that and is still awaiting trial but in the interim before he was actually indicted he started a podcast in which he calls the Insurrection The Fakes eruption and says that this was all an FBI setup and um possibly using violent actors like antifa I mean here he is like just elaborately contradicting everything that he had stood for and espoused very vocally and memorialized on social media so um uh and and mean you know Flash Forward later um there are still some detainees in January um in the DC jail waiting um trial for January 6 related offenses and and they are all now being cast as political um as politically persecuted and the cottage industry supporting that movement there are all these offshoot groups as well as you know the Gateway pundit types um are yeah are now saying that take your pick it was either um antifa who did all this or it was the FBI it's it the latter becomes a little complicated because the FBI did have informants you know that right inside there but it but none of that's the the likelier okay I'm sorry uh razor explanation is that the FBI as the FBI's want to do the left-hand didn't know what the right hand was doing and um because the evidence is fairly clear that these guys were um astonishingly flat-footed um when January the 6th arose but uh but but so um but there's enough doubt and let's face it almost every conspiracy theory begins with some kernel of Truth or some you know Quest question that does beg answering um but maybe not in such a you know delusional way yeah and I mean in a lot of ways I feel like we're we're living in a Thomas pinchon novel like the crying of lot 49 or something where you know the FBI we know the FBI is a terrible agency um you know both the left and the right and increasingly the mainstream can agree on that FBI informants Were Somehow involved in you know this the plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer the the governor of Michigan if you read anything about the FBI history you know they're terrible but we now have gotten to a point where it's like you know reality is so fungible to people's needs and Desires in a given moment and I think it's worth going back to that larger point you know that uh that you made at the beginning that one of the reasons why Trump spoke to so many people uh you know and he got 46 percent of the popular vote in two presidential elections that's a large chunk of people is there are people who feel in Desperate Straits they feel left behind they feel um you know unseen and um you know and these kinds of stories bubble out when there aren't good explanations or nobody's reaching out let's talk about you know if if your book has three characters in Trump and I guess I you know for all five of The Crying of lot 49 readers who might be out there if Trump is kind of the Pierce and variety of this uh of your book he's kind of the looming shadowy Overlord who every it makes everything happen but is not really seen very much um the the three main villains I would argue are the characters in your book are Paul Gosser who you've mentioned Marjorie Taylor green and uh Kevin McCarthy and I want to go through each of them a little bit you mentioned gosar he is a dentist who's a congressman from Arizona and it was funny when you were talking about him writing it I I you know I knew the name and everything but then when I looked him up I was expecting somebody who is 95 years old and you know had been a Bircher like when the Birch Society started Etc he's born in 1958 he's got you know he's got his hair still has color in it and he looks kind of normal but who is Paul goser and why is he so Central to what you're writing about in weapons of mass delusion sure my interest in goats are um precedes this book because he came in with a tea party class in 2010 and um I wrote a book about that class I interviewed ghost arm in 2011 just shortly after he took office and I found him to be just breathtakingly uninteresting and figured that here's a guy we'll never hear from again he'll probably you know be a one or two term or maximum through flu redistricting Etc um he managed to last but he became significant on a couple of levels to me um first because uh as mentioned um as unremarkable characters he was he not only started the south of Steel uh movement these are the rallies but he also played this rather remarkable moment in being the first congressman who joined with a U.S senator to formally object to the certification of electoral votes of a particular state in this case his own State Arizona which led to this debate that then was interrupted by the rioters the second thing though is that um goats are is um gosar is you mentioned a John Berger and that's a really apt characterization I think that in an earlier era that's precisely what he would have been and he would have been purged from the party as a result but we see instead um uh we'll get to Kevin McCarthy in a minute but but leadership's utter inability to punish someone like gozar and in fact to defend gozar and and the reason that um that McCarthy and others defended go-star was not because they liked them they didn't but because if they did didn't defend him they would incur the Wrath of the Maga movement that essentially is the um the the base of the Republican party and the other thing interesting about gosar is that for all of gosar's weirdness he's also tried to be a real legislator begging the question can you say all this crazy [ __ ] and then be taken seriously um uh you know when you're trying to get bills passed and and the question probably answers itself but I you know the reporting that I do shows how people who might have even been sympathetic to some of his saner legislative initiatives basically aren't going to sign on and be a co-sponsor with a guy who refuses to call Joe Biden President Biden because he says he's illegitimate and then calls it Mr Biden said are there echoes in that just very briefly in terms of refusing to recognize you know Biden as president um how is is there a line to be on that's meaningful from when George W Bush was selected as president by the Supreme Court or by you know a few hundred or a thousand voters in Florida and there was a period when Democrats refused to you know I mean they accepted that it was president but they pushed on that that he wasn't legitimate in the way that Bill Clinton had been or that Barack Obama would be well certainly that's a line a connective tissue that a lot of Republicans would like to see us all accept but I do think that scattered protests disgruntlements and sword losing is not the same thing as refusing to recognize the legitimacy of a president I mean being pissed off about it saying that voters were suppressed saying that your brother helped fix the election in Florida you know that's um is is one thing but being steadfast in your insistence that this guy doesn't belong in the White House and should never be addressed by his title it's I think something else yeah and um with gosar you talk about how he um in a way that is uh emblematic of something I mean he was playing footsie with white nationalists in a way that certainly under George W bush um uh you know that that would have been grounds for being canned from the Republican party or whatnot but talk about gosar's Connections to um you know kind of white nationalists white supremacists and how that is being tolerated in a way that it wouldn't have been you know 20 years ago sure well I mean it starts with the fact that um whether anyone likes it or not and a lot of Republicans don't like it a lot of Republican you know responsible Republicans um white nationalists are not insignificant part of the Republican base that's just a fact I'm not saying they're a majority but I'm saying that that's you know um when you're trying to amass a following amongst the base uh there is the Temptation amongst those on the right to court white nationalists or at least wink you know wink and nudge at them but the the gosar explanation for speaking to the America First Pac led by Nick Fuentes who was just an Unapologetic white supremacist and and very very anti-semitic among other you know uh other things one can say about Fuentes is that um this was a this was um a group of young conservatives who were in search of a leader basically Margie Taylor green would say the same thing to me too that um these were uh a bunch of mainly you know um white males uh who represented in a sense um uh the next generation of conservatism and uh you you want to cultivate those people you don't necessarily want to uh humor some of their baser Notions um but you also don't want to condemn them either so that was gosar's rationale for doing this and and that and a certain amount of ignorance that I had no idea that Fuentes said these things also he's gosource Chief of Staff Tom van flying said to me like you know he's a kid you know I did a lot of stupid things when I was 25 years old too but you know I I would hope that those didn't include saying you know the numbers don't add that about six million Jews being you know executed in Nazi Germany for example um well let's talk about Marjorie Taylor green um because she I mean in a lot of ways part of the argument of your book on on some level is that Marjorie Taylor green is not a fringe element of the Republican party she represents quite possibly the future of the Republican Party um who is Marjorie Taylor green and why is she important in talking about when the Republican Party lost its mind yeah I mean three and a half years ago um if you asked me those questions yeah we we would wonder why we're having a conversation about her at all she was she and her husband uh owned a successful family construction business in um in the suburbs of Atlanta uh she um uh was a conservative but not politically active until 2018 when she uh embraced the Q Anon conspiracy theory and around that time became a right-wing social media and influencer she started going to Washington in 2019 to harassing Democrats to increase her social media following but also to implore Republicans to pass uh to to block gun safety legislation she couldn't get an audience with any of these Republicans she wanted to see it really pissed her off and so here's this you know millionaire conservative who's saying hey I'm a taxpayer and these people refuse to even grant me an audience screw them I'm gonna run and she ran a kind of would seemed like a flukeish campaign but they were people took her seriously because she had enough money to self-fund but then through the luck of um the draw a new District opened up in Georgia when the Republican incumbent decided to retire she moved in there super conservative uh rural Northwestern Georgia district and she won convincingly but along the way all all these Q Anon and other racially and many other ways offensive posts came to light and the Assumption Nick was when she arrived in Washington that the Republicans would kick her to the curb she would be at the Star Wars bar where Steve king of Iowa had once been and should be out after a term or so instead um uh the the most remarkable um opposing trajectories occurred of two uh female Republicans Liz Cheney the most prominent uh Republican woman in American politics her career spiraled and she became exiled from the party where Marjorie Taylor green without changing any of her views became as you're saying um you know in a lot of ways Central to the party in one of its most potent uh Messengers what are the you know what are two or three of the most insane things that Marjorie Taylor green has publicly said or believes yeah so you're talking about pre-congressional career or something let's uh do one before and one or two after yeah certainly I mean the the you know the Q Anon stuff that included the California wildfires were the result of um uh a space laser shot from the skies by uh a company owned by the wealthy Jewish billionaire Rothschild family um that one's pretty out there uh uh but also just casual stuff like she would say um in in one of her posts that um you know I don't know why black Americans get so bent out of shape looking at these Confederate statues or you know uh or you know um statues of slaveholders I mean if I'd I'd be proud to walk past them because that would just show me how far I've come I mean those kinds of things but um but since she has come in office uh her um her claims that members of the democratic members such as Jamie Raskin um are our card carrying Communists that they are and per saying as well that um Republic Democrats want Republicans dead and the killings have already begun uh are themselves kind of straight out of Q and on viewing the other side as incorrigibly evil so uh that's a thumbnail sketch and I mean you mentioned that you had dinner with her um you know is she when you're talking to her and you're saying like hey you know pass the butter is she like that or is I mean how much of this is an act how much of this is real maybe that doesn't matter but I mean like what it what you are to to share a cat yeah yeah two overlapping questions you you posed there so first as to you know um sort of what she's like and then we'll get to what she believes right um as to what she's like um fairly normal you know at first blush if you saw her and didn't know who she was and just were conversing with her about you know the weather or football or something like that you'd find her to be instantly recognizable as a standard issue Southern um uh conservative woman you know that's uh uh of a certain affluence and and um uh uh and and I must say in the many times now that I spent with green she I think has made a concerted effort to impress upon me that she's normal that her views are much more mainstream than I think um and and by the way I should say that kind of works both ways because her I'm the first member of the mainstream media to spend time with her and certainly um you may well be the last as well so yeah actually you'd be so you would be surprised I mean I think that that um I mean we can get to the topic if you want but uh she you know um uh this is the kind of psychic um you know bridge that she had to cross the psychic Rubicon that that um because her assumption was that we were all evil you know that we're like you know um we're but she failed to detect any sulfur fumes I think when she sat down and met with me I have a Southern accent like her and and uh and the the seeming normalcy you know kind of plays both ways as to what she believes um the short answer to the question how much of this does she believe is she believes enough of it she also willfully hyperbolizes she knows that that that's what sells that's what gets you attention and this is an attention economy in which he's playing um but at her core yes she does believe the Democrats are if they're not luciferian then they're basically um they're destroying America she does believe that and and uh and um and I think you know when it comes to this sort of existential situation that she Embraces that that really you know uh were in a war for the soul of America um you know what's a little exaggeration even a little outright lying uh when the stakes are so great yeah and you know this is probably beyond your uh expertise but you know [ __ ] it answer it if you would like anyway I mean she's interesting also because you mentioned Q Anon and Q Anon among other things and this is the idea that a deep State actor is kind of speaking truth about all of the horrors that are in the government including the idea that many Democrats and other world leaders are pedophiles cannibals I mean like it's not simply you know the bilderbergers run everything in behind the scenes where you know that Jews control the media or anything like that I mean it's like that plus a serious dose of you know kind of where it comes from I don't know pedophilia like fears are you know of that Marjorie Taylor green is a former Catholic who says the Catholic church is a pedophile organization they're you know there you we one can understand that that comes out of you know the churches the the priest scandals and things like that but do you have a sense of in Maga World um it does seem that you know that charge of pedophilia I mean which is you know it's one thing to call your you know to call Nancy Pelosi evil or you know John podesta evil and I'm now starting to wonder if this is maybe it has something to do with them being Catholic and Italian but not just that they're evil but that they're pedophiles and that they are tormenting and killing and sexually abusing children and then eating them what it I mean does that make sense when you go through Maga World why the turn to pedophilia yeah yeah so I'll say by the way the grain I think not only renounces Q Anon but is genuinely ashamed that she took it as far as she did but as to how she got sucked into it to begin with um it it it helped make Vivid um for uh people like her who um who didn't understand why Democrats were so dismissive so heedless or contentious um uh uh that they were in fact evil you know it's uh this that's a rather bizarre you know and garish manifestation of it but at least it would explain why don't you care enough about children um the other thing too that Q Anon I think um was uh how it became so appealing to so many people was the op was The Other Side of The Ledger which is the heroism of um not just their fearless leader Donald Trump valiantly fighting this pedophilia ring but how everyone who supported Donald Trump was a patriot and um and that this conferred on them a real goodness um a warrior status and uh you know and an unqualified rightness uh and so to cast the stakes in this comic book you know this garish comic book fashion um becomes if not more sensible at least just irresistible for individuals who want to feel of themselves that way and and green said to me you know that she she said look you'd you'd be surprised how you know the people who are involved in Q Anon like lots of affluent people lots of successful people you know Jeffrey Epstein and the whole you know everybody at MIT in Harvard and you know flying to his Island and all of it no sure and and she you know when I asked her why did you keep all that stuff up you know your Social Media stuff the crazy [ __ ] from the past when you're running for office why didn't you scrub all us and she I remember I'll never forget her response it was like I didn't think it would hurt hurt me in fact I kind of thought it would help me and like that's that was a mind blower to me but I have to say she was on to something you know it's um like even people who you know weren't into Q Anon could still sympathize with the fundamental views right the the opposite side was evil and the their side was locked in this you know kind of clash of good versus evil and Kerry Lake you know said that out loud this is about good versus evil yeah and I I mean I guess this stage you know one of the things I'm trying to understand in a larger context is someone who I just don't viscerally understand Republicans Or democrats uh you know and I I mean it's not a it's a sign it's a lack in me but on the on the liberal or Democratic side you you see people use the idea that the world is about to end uh you know like what was it in 2018 we were told we have you know 12 years to fix global warming otherwise the world is over but you know both sides in different ways and I'm not making a uh you know a false equivalencies here but like both sides are you know it reminds me of growing up in the 70s the world is about to end you know whether through you know fire or ice but and on the right it has taken this form of like this is a cataclysm and it's almost like you know Jesus is coming back and you know have you do you have the mark of the beast on you or not like have did you stand up are you going to be raptured or are you going to be okay and it just you know where those Stakes come from is kind of yeah I'm still trying to figure that out in a way well it's well so it's you know Nick you and I you know for the sake of your listeners um met each other in 2014 when I was doing a story about libertarianism and you know when we and we talked a lot about whether or not the libertarian moment had arrived in 2014 short answer no but but it made it to the cover that question has the libertarian movement finally arrived written by you that story made it to the New York Times magazine cover whatever but and I never answered the question yeah no and and you know the joke is that when a trend hits the New York Times it's officially over so I guess that's what happened to them sort of like the Sports Illustrated you know when you're a team Sports Illustrated you're going to lose and it's yeah and uh uh or get an ACL or something but but yeah I um but but I but in pondering so what happened to whatever libertarian energy yeah there was and that was was like a a healthy distrust of government and a belief that you know that the less government the better which has a spectrum of of Quasi you know Anarchy to you know Rand Paul or something um that that something happened and the Evangelical movement explained some of this and I think conspiracy theorizing is an overlap because when you and I were talking Jade Helm was happening as operation Jade Helm which was um you know briefly uh a real military operation a military exercise taking place in a bunch of southern and western states that through a series of circumstances um some people on the right began to believe was a military a true military operation being conducted by Obama to seize people's guns to kill off conservatives Etc and um and so there is a fundamental difference between thinking you know government's not good and government is evil government is luciferian and and something happened um that whatever libertarian energy there was was overtaken by this eschatological notion of government and of course yeah and and they overlap because uh Ron Paul who's certainly you know provided a ton of the libertarian energy was a big Jade Helm guy and he always is trafficked in conspiracy theories that NAFTA was going to lead to you know and it's confusing I mean conspiracy theories rarely kind of are are succinct or stable but NAFTA was going to lead to a super highway from Mexico to Canada which somehow would lead to more immigrants coming here even though you could drive from you know Juarez to Ottawa or something in like 10 hours you know but um so that you know the conspiracy theory the religious fervor and the belief of end times are all kind of wrapped up and and I have to say you know you'd be you know much more Adept at figuring this than me but but the reality that I've stumbled upon in my reporting is that there that a lot of these more anti-democratic hard-right people in places like Arizona and Georgia uh were originally Ron Paul followers and you know for example Marjorie Taylor greens um uh top strategist this guy named Isaiah Wartman um was a Ron Paul person and uh in Arizona people who and this is also true in Wyoming too the people who came out you know very against Liz Cheney um the movement the anti-democratic movement on the far right in Arizona and Wyoming again these people were for whatever reason they first found their home in Ron Paul and they migrated over to the anti-democratic climes of this other movement so let's and I want to talk about Kevin McCarthy because I think he's the true problem in in many ways because he's you know kind of the adult in the room who is just like the worst most absentee parent one could imagine but see I just want to dilate on this a little bit you know you have Georgia which is interesting state where it you know it was red for a long time it is now you know it's a mix of red and Bloom we're seeing something interesting happen there Arizona you know on the other side of the country also in the southern region is kind of similar where you know Arizona defined a kind of Goldwater conservativism or you know cold water to find Arizona as in such place and now you're seeing in Arizona um you know this same kind of thing where it's it's not really purple but there are hardcore blue people and hardcore red people um and they're clashing like they're not mixing they're clashing um what's going on in Arizona and this you know well we can talk about the midterms kind of along the way but um it's you wrote a fantastic piece for the New York Times about the Arizona GOP and it was built this came out in August it was about Cary Lake talk a little bit about her and where she comes from and if Marjorie Taylor green is one you know future face of of the Republican party is Carrie like another one even though that she lost the governor race in Arizona yeah so both green and Kerry Lake were made possible by Donald Trump I mean they very much followed the template that he set of um sort of performative right-wing politics Carrie like is in many ways the apotheosis of that as a person who'd been in media for two decades and Dan used that much in a way of a I'm just thinking about this now of like a you know um a some guy who you know was an incorrigible drunk and beat his wife and all that suddenly repenting and then becoming a pastor and essentially using his Bedrock of sin uh uh to uh claim that he understands the Beast better than anyone else Carrie lake is that person now to briefly answer your question about Lake's future I still think she has one and I think people who I mean for someone who as someone who saw her at close range um she's on a certain level mesmerizing just on a performative level I mean no one kind of hits the mark quite like she does um but Arizona um you're right Nick is I mean it's a it is it's a subject of Fascination to me because it's a it's uh now it's lost um the governorship to the Democratic party both of its senators are uh are democratic the legislature is barely in control of the Republicans by literally like a couple of legislators and so with those Trends in mind you'd think that the Republican party there would do well to take stock of them and uh and Endeavor to um you know expand the tent as it were they've done the opposite they've doubled down on right-wing extremism and as you mentioned the the very gold water and then later John McCain have been viewed as kind of the faces of the Republican party it's always been a little more complicated than that I mean it's uh uh you know goldwater's wife was a co-founder of one of the chapters of planned paren good um but there were a lot of people on the right who didn't cut into that they just didn't have a kind of coherent movement going on they couldn't stand um McCain for saying for referring to uh members of you know the right-wing religious movement those agents of intolerance they couldn't stand his immigration policies uh but they also couldn't quite get their power together now they've managed to do so and we'll see how long it lasts there but it's but I but that was the other reason why I was interested in ghosts are in green because I happened to be you know faces on two of these states that were quasi-determinative in 2020 um and states were clearly the trends are moving at least somewhat away from the Republican party but you wouldn't know what to see um uh to see the Republican in Arizona it's amazing too because you have a very successful and popular two-term Governor Doug Ducey who you know is not a Liber libertarian but he's he's a kind of Centrist Republican for sure and he could have won that Senate race that Blake Masters lost he could have won by double digits without breaking a sweat but he couldn't be the candidate because Donald Trump hated him because Doug Ducey like an adult human being refused to say things that were obviously false about the election and things like that and so that gets to you know in a way I mean Kevin McCarthy who is likely to become the next Speaker of the House who is Kevin McCarthy and why does he matter so much in weapons of mass delusion sure Kevin McCarthy was elected to office in 2006 to Congress from Bakersfield California previous to that he had been the staff aide to um Bill Thomas who had held that seat for a very long time McCarthy utterly non-ideological um not much of a belief system at all very ambitious uh fellow seeing with him ambition as I say in the book so he doesn't have time for ideology or policy because yeah it's like I'm taking over by ambition right but also you know has a head by you know some data Geeks have a head for baseball statistics as a head for Precinct by Precinct politics uh and um uh and had from his early 20s been infatuated with Donald Trump and uh so um he has risen in the ranks he was I covered him during the the tea party period when he was the majority whip in the house and he was one of the so-called Young Guns right yeah that's right younger Paul Ryan Eric Cantor that's right yeah okay yeah yeah yeah they're all gone and McCarthy's been the Survivor and this has been his moment in fact he said to a confidante you know recognizing the how the historical um Trends tend to favor the party out of power in um the party with power in their first term of uh president's first time of office you know he said to a confident you know the upside the bind winning is now I have a pretty good shot of being speaker and yeah that appears to be be the case though with a absolute razor thin majority why is he Salient not just because of that but also because of um uh as you say he would seem to be the face of the adult in the room Republican and yet really is the face of uh of the enabling of the Maga movement because he he made the determination after January the 6th that um as much as he was literally frightened for his life actually said to Trump on the phone they are [ __ ] trying to kill me as I report in my book that that um that the Republicans couldn't exist the House Republicans could not Prosper without um the blessings of trump because of his his hold over uh the base and so he very famously went to Mar-A-Lago and and been to the knee um and in other ways has coddled Marjorie Taylor green Paul gosar uh and uh uh and really behaved himself um like if not a right-wing extremist himself one who was far more approving of them than of say Liz Cheney everybody else's idea of a you know a solid conservative who nonetheless um uh was outraged by Trump's conduct and and um how he had enabled uh what happened on January the 6th uh so McCarthy basically when I described you know margin Taylor green going up Liz Cheney going down yeah there was McCarthy very much um kind of like the Matador with the case you know letting each of them happen um what does it say that you know let's assume he becomes Speaker of the House in the 21st century the least objectionable Republican speaker might be a convicted child molester Dennis hastert you know that or or most effective I mean it's it's bizarre and insane and obviously it's weird because I'm not a fan of Nancy Pelosi but she is an effective speaker of the house like obviously that job is one of the worst jobs to have and she's able to do it in a way you know that traditionally there have been a couple of others like that but that's yeah yeah and of course we'll see what happens once she vacates leadership and I have no you know Intel as to when that will occur but whether um the more um extreme elements in the Democratic party uh begin to create the kind of Havoc that the Marjorie Taylor greens and Paul gosars and Matt Gates have done uh in the Republican party but it certainly is the case as you're indicating that she has amp those down pillows he has whatever one thinks of her belief system she has wielded power um very formidably right and she has kept uh you know kind of AOC in her Posse and some of the more Progressive Democrats in in a pen I mean she's corralled them in a way uh and there were a lot of stories when they first started Rising about the way that she kind of backhanded them but she's a short-term or whether it's because they go into the minority or you know there are a lot of reports she'll be leaving uh to become Ambassador the Vatican or whatever you know I mean she's 80 uh you know these people you know I realize if you're in the Bay Area you have blood boys and stuff like that so you know but eventually they give up right um do you do you uh let's talk a little bit about how the midterms affect what you're talking about in the book because you know by all accounts the Republicans should have won between 30 and 60 seats in the house they should have picked up five or ten seats in the Senate that didn't happen but the you know the house is going to be Republican the Senate is almost certainly going to be Democrat but it's going to be very tight um how does this and Trump has just as you know just a few hours before we talk whenever this goes out Trump announced that he's running for president in 2024.

His guys lost in a pretty significant way across the board I mean there were the secretaries of States who denied the 2020 election they all lost with one exception the guy in Wyoming um his preferred candidates is Senate candidate somebody like Blake Masters uh somebody like Herschel Walker somebody like Mamet Oz these are people who lost or you know Walker may still eat out of Victory but they it's clear his chosen people people the bigger the race the bigger the bomb that they were um you know JD Vance and Ohio won and you know after spectacularly kissing you know Trump's ass and and being humiliated by him at public rallies as a former critic now Etc but it seems that Trump you know he may you know in terms of the midterm elections like he can't be coming out of this uh more powerful and does that change the calculus of what you're writing about in the book the short answer is no so that's um I mean uh as my book makes clear um Trump and trumpism have never been popular and and never popular across the board to a general electorate and given the opportunity to express that distaste for Trump and trumpism the general electorate will do so it has done so time and again it did so yet again yeah we know we know definitively you know and again I'm an election believer I guess but that he can get about 46 of the popular votes that's what he did in two you know uh you know consecutive elections like he's not going to get 54 the next time out that's right yeah so so you know the the question with Trump and trumpism has always been um uh what effect they have on the Republican party there is there is an additional question um perhaps just as significant which is that um As Long As Trump and trumpism have a hold on the Republican party what kind of damage can they do to the country even in the face of defeat right and and so January the sixth being one you know expression of that one manifestation but you know and the other um sort of more lingering one is the tens of millions of people who believe these delusions who believe these lies um not just relating to um stolen elections not just relating to January the sixth but also relating to uh covet relating to um uh the great replacement Theory you know and what's happening on the border or what's not happening uh and um but you know I I do think speaking directly to you know what the midterms tell us about Trump look I mean I've um uh people are now you know saying to santis is you know the um has got the inside track and that may well be so but I also well remember and you do too that um when you and I were talking about Rand Paul in the context of libertarianism and presidential politics a lot of other people were talking about Scott Walker as the great hope of the Republican party because he also uh the um conservatives loved him for how he stood up to the Press how he stood up to the unions and busted them uh did everything a conservative you'd want to conservative to do except campaign well and he was a dud we really have no sense whatsoever how DeSantis will do even as a standalone proposition but it's an altogether different thing to see DeSantis against the human wrecking ball that is Donald Trump right Donald Trump cleared out what I mean it was amazing yeah he had what like 16 or 17.

Yeah yeah you know plausible Republicans so we're not it wasn't a bunch of clowns on the show Ted Cruz Etc yeah and people forget that they think that you know today it's it's thought that they all must have been a bunch of weak sisters no we're not I mean those were that that was really a dream slate of you know yeah um yeah and I I think of DeSantis I mean it remains to be seen and I'm not sure actually how much I care about this but he also reminds me of Chris Christie who also was very effective in New Jersey stood up to unions publicly played well in New York and New Jersey and you know I'm from that area and I I was a columnist for time at the time and I wrote about how Christy plays great in that area but there's no way like once you cross the Delaware River West he's people are going to be like who is this fat [ __ ] loudmouth I don't know if I mean it was like after the after Trump's announcement speech I mean so much Focus perhaps unsurprisingly in the media where all the people in the room were bored oh it was the same thing over and over they're missing the point which is the point being that for the Mega constituents the same old song is exactly what they want to hear it's the greatest thing I don't want to hear the slightest dph Drive um so let me so that will play out what is the effect of trump or Maga you know for as a shorthand for a broader movement what is the effect of that on the Democratic party because you know and it's weird because Biden uh the The Washington Post and I think they were accurate about this when they they said that Joe Biden's presidential platform was the most liberal a Democrat had ever run on he was talking about 11 trillion dollars in new spending he seemed normal because he was running against Trump but he's not just a kind of big government Democrat but he and he got a lot of what he wanted he is not popular he is also being you know attacked from the left in the Democratic party I mean you know the the younger generation of Democrats they hate Maga but they're also sick of um you know of of Joe Biden and of Nancy Pelosi and of You Know The Eccentric Senate stuff you know they like Bernie Sanders do you think how does that play out particularly after the midterms through the Democrats you know is there going to be do you think there'll be an Insurgency on the Progressive side of Democrats to say this is our moment um because this isn't cutting it what we're seeing going on now yeah I mean I um interesting to to hear you ask that question because I've talked to some Progressive leaders who do believe that they're making inroads right now with the Biden Administration and I mean in a way they are they're getting a lot of spending and a lot of the things that they want but not quite belief is the the you know this will benefit the public but even if the public doesn't come to see it their aversion to Trump is so deep and abiding that that will overcome whatever deficiencies they may see I mean meanwhile you know it's it's not entirely clear that Biden will run again I mean I I did happen to notice the day after the midterm from Biden kind of did his Victory lap of a speech that when asked he said on at least two occasions my intention is to run which is very different from just saying declaratively I'm running you know mofo and and uh and that kind of language you know you and I have heard in Washington forever and it's it's wiggle room for a reason and leads me to believe that maybe over the holidays he and his family will discuss all this I mean he's on top of whatever else you know we've been talking about regarding Biden he's quite old and and um yeah so is Nancy Pelosi Pelosi seems to be quite you know vigorous and quite effective Mitch McConnell also ancient by political say I mean I keep thinking back to those pictures of you know Soviet uh you know apparatchex in the in the 70s and 80s and you're like God they were so old and it's like you know president was in his 50s and it's like we have people 30 years older than him running the country um if I may also um you know uh what do you think that this rhetoric of stolen elections and rigged systems Etc and again I think back to 2016 Hillary was saying a version of it Bernie Sanders was Trump was and again not to make them all equivalent but there's a palpable sense throughout much of America and this this undergirded empowered the black lives matter movement right that you know like it doesn't matter if if you're black and American you work hard and you play by the rules you're still going to be killed by cops you're not going to get ahead there's racism you know and then there's a a kind of de-industrialized Midwestern version of that there's a Latino version of there's you know uh as we speak there's a Supreme Court case about Asians Asian Americans being kept out of Harvard and and University of North Carolina and Elite institutions there's a real palpable sense that the system is broken or the systems are broken and Hillary Clinton who I guess doesn't really have many divisions anymore but she in a recent fundraising appeal for a group called indivisible talked about how you know in the pitch he says extreme right-wing conservatives have a plan to disallow the you know to win the 2024 election to steal the election and we need to crush the coup that's the actual language for this fundraising appeal do you think that kind of election denialism is going to go kind of mainstream or ubiquitous or and more and more disintegration of belief or cynicism towards any kind of major institution major undertaking over the next few years yeah I mean I will say you know I first I think that you know crush the coup is is at minimum really really ill-advised you know that uh rhetorically um but but I I do recognize because as a reporter as a citizen who follows the news you can hear Republican state legislators say out loud that their intention is in fact to make it more difficult for um certain constituencies to vote and some of them have said explicitly because of our efforts to do these kinds of things we Republicans are going to win more and so their they themselves are casting it as a partisan effort regardless of whether you know this is um a you know systematized um carefully orchestrated thing here and there it's certainly the truth I mean you know what you're referring to Nick is is a is a larger distrust you know the distrust of Institutions goes back to Vietnam obviously you know and then Watergate but it has gotten to a point now where the view is feels not just that institutions are hoary and and have their own kind of inertia but that they act at minimum um are dismissive of of ordinary Americans and at maximum uh are contemptuous of and and deceptive towards and they're killing them and eating them I mean in some cases I mean literally yeah right right exactly yeah and it's and I I don't know where and how that ends I mean it's interesting you know to referring to Marjory Taylor green to see her now and she has expressed to me that she actually wishes to be taken more seriously and to govern seriously to she's willing to like let her actions speak for themselves um and there she was uh you know uh standing with Kevin McCarthy the other day um saying how you know um Republicans need to get in line and back him for speaker something I wouldn't have expected her to do before but when the rubber meets the road the question will be um you know are you gonna like try to govern responsibly while at the same time um having endless investigations of your political enemies and um so uh uh so we'll you know we'll see if you know someone like green um tries to reform the institutions from within or continually cast them as demon figures as a kind of final uh point to this conversation you're a Texas guy and you open the book with um I think a particularly uh important and moving but you know important um uh discussion of your father who died I guess during covet right yeah he died in November 2019 just before covet and yeah but and it was a lifelong Republican and a kind of Texas way which I take to be um that you know is is a kind of uh you know smaller government uh you know a small government kind of Live and Let Live kind of Republican right uh an older style um who was contemptuous of trump but you know is there do you think like the the kind of politics his politics that emerge which seem to be you know broadly speaking you know kind of socially tolerant fiscally responsible um I don't know that that actually adds up to being libertarian in any meaningful way and I don't really care about that but that idea um where you know you you have a government that you don't want to do everything but you wanted to do certain things and you believe that it can do those and you'll support that and you also think that people in businesses should mostly be left to their own devices um you know that immigration is good that free trade rate is good that movement is good and you know when people need to change and grow is there um is there a path forward for that kind of politics given what we're seeing emerging kind of on an extreme right where you know National conservatives are you know somebody like a blank Masters said libertarianism doesn't work and that the government really needs to be controlling things Ron DeSantis says we need to use the power of the state to go after our enemies the way the left does uh people on the Progressive caucus are talking about taking over nationalizing social media and platforms like that is you know is the the country that your father lived in is that gone forever or is that a viable kind of synthesis of what comes out of these moments of Madness of the past half dozen years or so I do think that um maybe even the majority of Republican office holders embrace the views that my dad did which yeah I think distill them well distill themselves down to um you know healthy distrust of government less government lower taxes emphasis on personal responsibility um and um uh and would love to see that the Beast that they have at least implicitly if not explicitly fed for years will uh will eat itself the the the one you know important ingredient to my father that I mentioned in the preface of my book is that um he uh personal responsibility to him meant um never making excuses never um uh being a professional victim and certainly never um demonizing the other side after all that would have made it very difficult for him to stay happily married like he was um for 64 years to my mother who was a Democrat and who cheerfully you know canceled his vote out every election cycle and uh and you know Ron DeSantis becomes more of my father's kind of Republican but only um if he divest himself of this rhetoric that casts um uh wokism as you know the Liberals as possessed by woke ISM possessed by radical socialist ideas and basically people who must be punished who must be ground to dust and and uh you know my dad was always of the view and Republicans were really for a very long time until Trump showed them a different way of um of trying to persuade people that that their way was a better way now I'm not in you know I'm not in any way idealizing um conservatism back in my father's day since it was a table around which sat almost exclusively you know white men and uh and and you've written more than one book on on the bushes particularly George W bush as in curious and in in profound ways of failed presidents I mean you're not a republican apologist by anything no no and it's and um uh and and I think that you know they it was the um you know the group think um in the confirmation bias uh uh in the very very limited world view that George W bush had that was a big contributor to the disaster that was the Iraq War and my father loved George W bush but came over the years to believe that he had been LED astray by his own biases and his own in curiosity and I think that informed in turn how my father you know came to seek alternative points of view too so I don't I I'm by Nature not a very prescriptive person and and uh um and so I don't know how one comes back to that but do I think that you know the um that the opportunity is there and that the numbers are there amongst Republicans yes my greater concern is that when you have so many millions of people who um are possessed by delusions and then and that underpinning those delusions is the belief that the other side is is satanic um then I don't know how you come back to well you know look we still need to work across the aisles with those people we disagree with I mean it's you you don't work across the aisle with the margin Taylor Greener is actually quite honest when she was asked as as a candidate uh running for uh Congress if she would ever walk across the aisle and and she basically said no she said no that's um because uh we just have to defeat them we can't persuade them uh they're there for things we abhor and um that was a kind of zero-sum language that just didn't exist during my father's era of Republican politics do you think though then maybe it is a little bit heartening and for God's sake nobody wants to you know pin the hopes of the Republic on Marjory Taylor green but the fact that she seems to be more accommodating um particularly if she becomes part of of a majority that is very small and actually to do anything will have to actually work with other people I have a wait and see attitude about green because it depends on whether I mean it's um to to try to govern a certain way but still to be tweeting and and on right-wing media saying these kinds of things about you know the killings have already begun you know I don't care if she wants to you know raise the debt ceiling I mean I do care but if she's saying that kind of stuff too then she's feeding delusions and feeding this apocalyptic you know fever uh so um I understand that one reason she does that is to get attention and to get attention means to get online donations and to get online donations means to become a national figure but at a certain point she has a choice to make because those two come in conflict and Paul gosar is one case and point of how they come in conflict all right we're going to leave it there the book is Weapons of Mass delusion when the Republican Party lost its mind the author is Robert Draper Robert thanks so much for talking it was really a pleasure thanks for having me on Nick [Music]