This weekend, the House narrowly averted a government shutdown after being held hostage by a group of extremist Members of Congress known as the Chaos Caucus. Two members, Dan Bishop and Greg Murphy, are from North Carolina. The Wall Street Journal, no bastion of liberalism, described the members as “egotistical performance artists” who “won’t grow up.” They name-checked Bishop, who is now running for North Carolina Attorney General.
Let’s establish one, irrefutable point. Congressman Dan Bishop is part of the coalition of right-wing Republicans who do not believe in governing. He is aligned with the likes of Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Lauren Boebert. He was willing to allow the country to default on its debt by voting against the debt ceiling increase last spring. He supported shutting down the government this weekend. He consistently sides with the most extreme elements of the GOP.
Bishop eagerly spread the Big Lie in the wake of the 2000 election. He supported the White supremacist web site, Gab, where the Pittsburg synagogue shooter spread his hate. He authored the so-called Bathroom bill that cost North Carolina millions in investments.
Dan Bishop is not moderate or reasonable. He is an extremist. He would burn the country down for his radical beliefs or enough attention. Why would we let him near the Department of Justice?
More importantly, why is the Republican Party clearing the field for a guy like Bishop? He’s reinforcing the stereotype that the GOP is out of sync with the rest of the country. He’s damaging their brand and yet they are rallying around him. If he’s on the ticket with Mark Robinson, the GOP is going to be playing defense the entire 2024 election cycle. Democratic ad makers will have field day.
I suspect much of Bishop’s support is denial. Otherwise sane Republicans are telling themselves that people like Bishop are acceptable to voters, probably because he’s an educated White lawyer who only sounds shrill when he talks or tweets. He’s part of the club.
But there’s something else, too. Republicans have been tolerant of extremism within their ranks for decades. They like to blame Democrats for Trump, but he’s their creation because Republicans refused to police their own. They turned a blind eye to racism and outright encouraged homophobia. They were oblivious when the reactionaries took over their party and called them “real Americans,” a euphemism for White, uneducated resentment voters. Today, they will pretend like Dan Bishop is a mainstream candidate despite all the evidence to the contrary. May they rue the day.