The Republican Party is dividing between those Republicans who still believe in democracy and those whose partisanship has slipped into support for autocracy. That is the analysis of Steve Schmidt, the conservative political consultant who ran John McCain’s presidential campaign and who is now a prime force behind the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.

In comments on MSNBC, Schmidt said the split was made frighteningly clear when, last week, 126 Republican members of Congress and 17 Republican state attorneys general joined the Texas attorney general in his plea to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the electoral votes of four swing states thrown out. The willingness of these Republicans to disenfranchise millions of American voters to keep President Donald Trump in power is proof, Schmidt said, that the GOP can no longer be counted on to defend our democratic system of government.

The Texas lawsuit had no basis in fact. It was premised on wild conspiracy theories and lies about a rigged election that Trump and his allies have been pushing ever since Joe Biden won the presidency. These bogus arguments have been tested in nearly 60 court challenges brought by Trump’s team of attorneys, and they have been laughed out of court in all but one minor ruling. The sham suit from Texas was similarly rebuffed by a unanimous Supreme Court.

To their lasting shame, two House members from Washington signed on to this anti-democratic ploy; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Spokane and the eastern edge of the state, and Dan Newhouse, who represents Yakima and most of central Washington. McMorris Rodgers, who is a leader in her caucus, tried to explain away her willingness to sign an amicus brief in support of the Texas suit as simply giving the president his day in court.

That excuse is as phony as the lawsuit itself. Trump had his day – many days – in court. No serious legal scholar thought the Texas suit had a chance. It was a cynical, anti-democratic attempt to overturn an election. Neither McMorris Rodgers nor Newhouse nor any Republican needed to endorse this. If they did not want to speak up for the truth and say the election was won fairly by Biden, they could have just done and said nothing. These two veteran politicians are smart enough to know the election fantasies being spun by right-wing extremists are wrong, but they went along with the crazy crowd in order to placate the mob and protect their political futures.

They would deny that they support autocracy, but their actions say the opposite.

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