John Danforth warned us.
"Lending credence to Trump's false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government," he said.
On Wednesday, those false claims escalated into an attack on the nation itself. Mitt Romney labeled it an "insurrection."
The Capitol was stormed — something that hasn't happened in more than 200 years.
The Confederate battle flag was carried into and waved around the Capitol — something that didn't even happen during the Civil War.
Police had to draw guns to slow the assault and used tear gas and percussion grenades to clear protesters who scaled walls and smashed their way into the building. One woman died.
Caleb Rowden, Missouri Senate majority leader, characterized it for a lot of Americans when he called what happened "an act of domestic terrorism."
"This is not who we are as a nation," U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said Wednesday.
Agreed. But how did we get here as a nation? That's the worry.
We got here because too many people who knew better and were elected to lead let President Donald Trump perpetuate for too long the lie that this election was stolen — a lie he repeated Wednesday even as the Capitol was under siege. Some, such as Josh Hawley, perpetuated it in word and act — "lending credence" as Danforth said; others perpetuated it by their silence.
"Lending credence to Trump's false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government," Danforth warned. "It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical. ... At a time of extreme polarization, the populist strategy is to drive America even further apart by promoting conspiracy theories and stoking grievances. We must reject this strategy and reclaim America's historic purpose of holding our diverse nation together as one people."
Former President George Bush spoke for a lot of us: "This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol — and disruption of a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress — was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes."
None of this was was inevitable; all of it was predictable.
And we can predict where it will go if allowed to continue.
It has to stop.