FORT WAYNE – The political fallout from the U.S. Capitol riots will continue to emerge for some time, months and possibly years, and vary over the longer haul from the immediate. Here are some guesses on impacts in different areas, but everything is always dependent upon unforeseeable variables as well.

1.) False claims of fraud likely destroyed election reform in the short-run. When President Trump called people to Washington to “persuade” Congress to overturn the electoral vote, and the mob storms the U.S. Capitol Building and terrorizes Congress, they made election reform toxic in the short-term at least. Real concerns that actually need to be discussed so future elections aren’t stolen, not trumped-up allegations about unproven fraud, have been subsumed by false ones. Instead of reform and putting the Democrats on the defensive, reform instead will likely be dismissed by a public increasingly sick of all the fighting as just more Republican unsubstantiated whining about Trump losing. It is also not an investigation when you have announced your conclusion in advance of any evidence.

2.) Republican primary challenges to pro-impeachment voters. Those who voted for the second impeachment of President Trump will likely have primary challenges if they run for reelection. Given that those who voted for impeachment probably were already less than worshipful to Trump, they probably would have had a primary challenger anyway. Perhaps their challengers will be more qualified than expected, but that is still unknown. 

3.) Republican primary challenges to those who voted to certify the election results.
This seems also likely to occur because, by definition almost, those who did so will no longer be deemed as sufficiently loyal to Trump. Even if the core Trump support goes down by half, there still will be likely be enough die-hards to mount primary challenges in many areas. 

4.) Official Republican Party threats to incumbents will further weaken the influence of the actual political party organizations.
Washington and Wyoming have directly moved from being organizations that help elect all Republicans in fall campaigns in the state to controlled by party factions, not representative of a continuing structure. This is a terrible trend for less high-profile offices and election security (such as a structured organization dedicated to election day turnout and results oversight). 

5.) Rhetoric, such as swamp attacks, from left and right is seriously undermining the system of trust. Rhetorical exaggeration – a key to igniting enthusiasm, the foundation of donations and political activism – has reached a point of serious danger on both sides. People of all views are more likely to believe a TV or movie version of what the CIA does, for example, than the government version. They believe movie stars and assorted flakes on an even level with an elected official or representative. A fake Russian site is viewed as just as credible (or more) as the New York Times or the local Board of Health. The American system was, is and hopefully will continue to be the greatest in the world’s history. Not perfect, just the greatest ever given natural human flaws.

6.) The piousness of the liberals, after tolerating months and years of excess, is a bit much. Cities burning, excessive anti-law enforcement rhetoric, false claims against the legal system, trashing of capitalism, and rhetoric against those whose religious beliefs differ are merely part of the liberal excess, ALL excesses need to be condemned not just those on the side with which you disagree.

7.) The U.S. Capitol Building has never been stormed and control been seized by an attacking American mob before.  This was an unprecedented attack. The Capitol building had burned down by the British in the War of 1812, after the U.S. had burned down the Canadian Capitol. Four Puerto Rican nationalists visiting the Capitol building opened fire on 200 members of Congress, wounding five. Around the country, cities have been burned and federal buildings attacked. Never anything like this. By any group of Americans. Ever. This riot was different. 

8.) The delusional comments of the mob, both during the assault and explaining what they did, is deeply disturbing. The comments about the government, false narrations about fraud and stealing the election, seeming to be Trump- programmed robots at times (“the president asked me to come so I did”), and general ignorance of law and order (while proclaiming to believe in it) was astounding. 

9.) The Capitol riots were an attack on our system of government, not a building. The comments made it absolutely clear that the attack was on our system, not the building. They invaded the building because of disdain for the rule of law, a disdain for the 50 state governments that had authorized their electors, a disdain for over 50 judges and courts that did not even feel Trump had evidence enough to convene a hearing, a disdain for the popular vote, a disdain for the Electoral College rules, and no understanding of the constitutional responsibility of the vice president. They talked about their rights when, in fact, they wanted to impose their minority will on the nation.

10.) Former President Trump’s financial and legal problems will cloud his future impact. Trump was a valuable marketing image, more effective to those holding his debt than cashing him out. That has begun to change. Debts are being called. This, combined with what is likely to be never-ending lawsuits, threatens his financial ability to be a force. His allies are also likely to feel the pressure. As more and more information becomes public, his base will likely continue to shrink. How far down he will go is unknown.

11.) President Biden’s actions and whether Republicans can recapture an issue-based voice as opposed to being a Trump personality-driven party will play critical roles what happens next.  Personality politics has always been critical in every political system in the world. It is not going away. But the survival of alternative views requires structures organized around ideas, not one individual. On the other hand, Biden is not likely to run for a second term. It is time to re-set. 

Souder is a former Republican congressman from Indiana.