Op-Ed: The GOP likes to tar Democrats as radical extremists. But look at who incited an insurrection

Kelly Loeffler at the Senate
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who lost her reelection race, ran against the “radical agenda” of the left.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was unanimously reelected on Friday for another term. Her message to the party: “I am mad and I’m not going to let socialism rule this country.”

In tweeting about his Fox News appearance after the domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) urged fellow Republicans to “focus on countering the Democrats’ radical agenda.”

In a concession speech delivered by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) on Thursday night, she declared that “the fight against socialism and the radical agenda of the left is very far from over.”


On the day before the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted, “Conservatives understand Georgia is the last line of defense in our fight against the radical socialist agenda.”

Since Jan. 1, 2020, President Trump has tweeted the words “radical left” more than 170 times.

Newsflash: It wasn’t the radical left that stormed the doors of the Capitol on Wednesday. It wasn’t the radical left that told a group of known white nationalists to “stand by” during a nationally televised presidential debate. It wasn’t the radical left that addressed the soon-to-be rioters and declared to members of Congress that “we’re coming for you.” It wasn’t the radical left who on the eve of the Capitol siege announced their plans to walk the path to sedition.

The only “radical” elements America sees now are the words and actions of the Republican Party. Yet Republicans have forever gotten away with throwing around the label “radical” to characterize the Democratic Party.

How many times in political ads have Republicans used the words “radical” and “dangerous” to describe their Democratic challengers? How many Fox News segments have Sean Hannity and friends devoted to the Democrats’ “radical extreme socialist agenda”?

What happened on Wednesday was an inevitable culmination of years of extreme and alarmist rhetoric from the Republican Party and their propaganda platforms. Watching Republicans act shocked that the people they have relentlessly and unapologetically pandered to for years is appalling.


With every tweet, every soundbite, every campaign ad, Republicans have been signaling to their supporters that it’s time to take matters in their hands. When you label something as “radical” or “extreme” or “dangerous,” you are telling people they need to defend themselves against a threat. You are telling them they need to be ready to fight. You are telling them their impulse to resort to violence and destruction is justified and righteous.

There is absolutely nothing radical or extreme about protesting racial inequality, social injustice and a culture of police brutality in America. There is nothing radical or extreme about speaking out for gender equality and women’s rights. There is nothing radical or extreme about advocating for universal healthcare coverage. There is nothing radical or extreme about supporting action to address the growing threat of climate change. There is nothing radical or extreme about wanting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. There is nothing radical or extreme about embracing the need for gun reform in the wake of mass shootings. There is nothing radical or extreme about wearing a mask and social distancing amid a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 365,000 Americans.

The extremists are the ones who egged on the insurrectionists with four years of lies. Republicans may be abandoning the sinking Trump ship, but don’t let this 11th-hour maneuver fool you. That even after Wednesday’s events Republicans in Congress and in the media are still clinging to the “radical socialist agenda” narrative shows they haven’t changed — though they are scurrying to launder their tattered reputations.

Don’t believe me?

Just watch how many of them will vote to support articles of impeachment if the Democrats bring those to the House floor next week.

Kurt Bardella is a senior advisor to The Lincoln Project. He is a former aide to California Republican Congressmen Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray and was an aide in the California State Senate and Assembly. @KurtBardella