Here's my scary/controversial hypothesis of the day:
Right now, the national elected GOP is a moderating influence on the American conservative movement.I say that fully accounting for folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Josh Hawley, and Lauren Boebert. Even accounting for them, the nationally-elected GOP cadre, taken as a whole, is more moderate than the overall American conservative movement. Which is terrifying, given just how radically extreme the nationally-elected GOP cadre is (see the above list). The reason it's a scary hypothesis is precisely because the current national elected GOP should never be a moderating influence on anything. It is a party utterly and completely out-of-control. And yet, when you compare them to the people they're representing -- oh boy, can it get even worse.
The Republican caucus flirts with just abandoning democracy outright, the Republican base has already signed the prenup. The Republican caucus contemplates creating a new "Anglo-Saxon" caucus, the Republican base thinks the absence of one is the greatest civil rights travesty of our time. The Republican caucus tip-toes around whether George Floyd was murdered, the Republican base would call Derek Chauvin's conviction a lynching except that might suggest they admire it.
We are, in short, nowhere near rock-bottom. Party officials aren't always 100% aligned with the rank-and-file, but the latter certainly exhibits a strong gravitational pull on the former. The pull on the GOP is to move even further to the right than it is now. We're going to see more persons who to any sane observer would be seen as rock-ribbed conservatives be primaried out, or retired and replaced, by open and avowed extremists. We're going to see more ambitious GOP pols try to separate themselves from the back by going deeper and deeper into the rabbit holes of open racism, White supremacy, antisemitism, and conspiratorial authoritarianism of all stripes.
It's going to get far worse before it gets better.