They don’t get to wash their hands of this.

The violent protest from the rabble at the U.S. Capitol can’t be excused as something that just got out of control, and it can’t be written off as unavoidable.

Tragic? Absolutely. Surprising? Not really.

What we witnessed with horror Wednesday was the culmination of months of misinformation and the radicalization born of the notion that the presidential election was stolen.

There is a vast difference between people “feeling” cheated and evidence of fraud.

People who actively stoked those feelings bear a grave responsibility for these actions.

President Donald Trump likely had simple voter suppression in mind when he primed his followers for months leading up to the election that if mail-in voting was allowed, it would all be rigged. Then, when mail-in voting landed Biden a clear victory, those followers had all the capital they needed to buy into conspiracy theories, no matter how far fetched.

The simplest explanation that mail-in ballots favored Democrats because Democrats favored mail-in ballots was rejected outright. And this isn’t a time for simple explanations.

Not everyone who “believes” the election was rigged is at fault, but those who think you can forcefully impose a single ruler’s will over the will of the people need more than allegations.

Even as the election challenges failed in nearly every court of law, including the highest in the land, people held to a belief that Congress could still somehow do something to upend the results.

Our representatives who participated in the electoral challenge probably assumed they could gingerly court the base with some political theater. They have a responsibility to end the charade.

It gave them hope that the election could be overturned. Anyone who took part in the lie has culpability.

They led an increasingly belligerent crowd to believe they had a chance. What did they think would happen?

What might the result have been when there is no concession, and the person in power wants to keep power, and even asks his followers to help? Tells them to come to DC. Tells them “it will be wild.”

Even news from the scene, which unfolded live before our eyes, will have a twisted narrative. The News Press social media post is full of comments about how Antifa and BLM infiltrated the MAGA crowd, and were responsible for an otherwise peaceful protest.

It’s maddening.

But, if you have any doubt, know that Trump doubled and tripled down, even as he called for peace.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!,” Trump posted in a since-deleted tweet.

The truth is, we won’t find a common ground unless we can find a common reality.

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