Donald Trump is gone (for now, at least), but Trumpism remains the dominant force in the Republican Party. Nowhere is this more true than in our state.

Two GOP members of Congress from Washington, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, voted to impeach Trump in his last days in office after he incited a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol. Ever since, they have suffered a barrage of condemnation from state, county and local Republican Party officials and activists. The state’s one other member of the House Republican Caucus, Spokane’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers, cast her sycophantic vote against impeachment, certainly knowing the grief she would face if she got in the crosshairs of Trump worshippers back home.

What Herrera Beutler and Newhouse did was to vote their consciences and stand on principle, something unusual and admirable in partisan politics. Nevertheless, by a nearly unanimous vote, the state GOP central committee passed a resolution condemning the errant pair and declared that they had ignored the deep concerns many Republicans had about the election being stolen from Trump. Apparently, it did not matter to the central committee members that even Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell has concluded that the claims about election fraud are lies and that Trump used those lies to provoke a violent mob that went hunting for, among others, Republican Vice President Mike Pence.

Republicans in the Evergreen State have been losing ground for a long time. They have not put up a successful candidate for governor since 1980. There is only one Republican, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who holds a statewide elected office. If they purge two of their three members of Congress for being apostates to the Trump cult – as several GOP groups say they will try to do – they will stand a good chance of losing at least one of those seats to a Democrat.

Instead of trying to broaden their base by appealing to moderate voters, the party keeps drifting further right into the realm of looniness. The state GOP has been captured by angry people on the fringe of politics who binge on Sean Hannity tirades and fill their minds with the crazed conspiracy theories from QAnon and InfoWars.

If there are RINOs – Republicans in name only – it is these people. They have abandoned the sensible conservatism and good-governance philosophy that once was the hallmark of Washington’s GOP, and they have wandered off into a political wilderness from which they may never return.

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