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More Chaos This Weekend In Nevada From Trump Supporters?

(AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

In Nevada, an armed protest is planned in Carson City this weekend in support of President Donald Trump and his claims that he did, indeed, win the general election and only through massive voter fraud was the election "stolen" from him.

It is that same idea that drew Trump supporters to the nation’s Capitol last week, where five people died, including a police officer and a rioter. 

The conspiracy theories surrounding the November election are pretty wild. One says the election was stolen because an Italian satellite changed votes in Dominion voting machines from Trump to Biden; another is that Trump will somehow remain president even after the inauguration.

Those views and others were shared last week in a letter by Chris Zimmerman, chairman of the Nye County Republican Party.

Is this what mainstream Republicans in Nevada think? After all, newly elected Nevada Assemblywoman Annie Black of Mesquite was one of those at the protest in D.C., but she was not among those who stormed the building.

Amy Tarkanian, former chair of the Nevada Republican Party, called out the Nye County GOP Chairman Zimmerman, and the Nevada Republican Party after his letter appeared. And she has been attacked for it online.

"This is, by no means, normal," Tarkanian told KNPR's State of Nevada, "No, we do not, as the Republican Party, believe that this is normal. This is so unfortunate."

Tarkanian, who voted for President Trump in November, said while she has been attacked for speaking out against the conspiracy theories, she has also received a lot of support.

But she is not happy that the Nevada Republican Party is not speaking out against the conspiracy theories.

"The fact that they haven't said anything is really telling," she said, "They really need to speak out. They need to tell everyone it's not okay.  

Tarkanian halted several times while talking to State of Nevada, at one point, she said she was speechless about the insurrection at the Capitol and the conspiracies theories that drove it.

"I don't think I've ever heard Amy Tarkanian speechless before in my life. She is very articulate and always rises to the moment," said Las Vegas Review-Journal politics and government editor Steve Sebelius.

In Sebelius' view, there are two groups. The first group is the true believers. These are people who sincerely believe that the election was stolen through a massive voter fraud operation. 

"They really believe - absent all evidence, absent all reason, absent the certification by the states, the review by the courts, the certification by Congress - that this election was stolen," he said, "They believe it because the head of their political party, their God-emperor if you will, Donald Trump has told them that it is so."

Sebelius believes that group does bear responsibility for the violence at the Capitol because to believe that so thoroughly people have "turn off [their] faculties for reason." 

With that said, he does have some sympathy for them because they have been lied to for so long, and they've found re-enforcement for those lies online. 

The second group, for which he has no sympathy, is the people who know there is no truth to the conspiracy theories surrounding the election and yet continue to tell them in an effort to keep power.

"For them, I have nothing but contempt," he said, "I think a lot of the people who are leading and guiding this movement do not believe Trump legitimately won the election and that there was any chicanery going on. There is no evidence for it. I think those people bear an inordinate amount of responsibility for what we saw at the Capitol and what we may yet see during the inauguration."

As for Tarkanian, she said she has told people who believe the conspiracy theories to unfriend her on Facebook.

"I think it's garbage," she said.

She also said that the Nevada Republican Party is "very weak" right now and she would like to see the party get rid of Party Chairman Michael McDonald. 

Like many people, Sebelius believes that part of the reason the conspiracy theories have flourished is social media and the internet.  

"I do agree with P.J. O'Rourke, who said in his most recent book, 'who thought it was a good idea for every idiot in the world to be connected to every other idiot in the world via the internet,'" he said. 

But another reason people are struggling to accept President Trump's loss in November is their belief in him.

"When you are so enmeshed and so involved with a political philosophy that you see your candidate lose, there is a moment of shock and disbelief," he said, "You think to yourself: 'There is no way that my candidate, that makes so much sense and who is so good for the country and who has done so many great things, could have lost this election. There must be fraud.'"

Sebelius said people are looking for an alternative explanation for President Trump losing the election, but he says using Occum's Razor, which essentially states that the simplest answer is likely the right one, "there were more voters for Joe Biden and that is the bottom line explanation why he won."

While many in the GOP are struggling with that explanation, Sebelius believes it is essential for the country to move forward and for "everyone to reconcile themselves to the truth." 

"And to the extent that does not happen, then we will have problems moving forward," he said. 

Amy Tarkanian, former Nevada GOP chair; Steve Sebelius, government/politics editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.