If there is one lesson the Republican Party needs to learn from this year’s elections, it is that fringe politics and conspiracy theories are not popular. The GOP lost independents by three points to Democrats, a fatal statistic for any midterms. Poor candidate quality, a problem Senator Mitch McConnell pointed out to many Republicans’ chagrin, lost the party winnable seats across the country.

The Democrats played a small part in this result through their cynical support for far-right candidates in Republican primaries who they suspected (correctly) would be easier to beat in November. Through various PACs,...

If there is one lesson the Republican Party needs to learn from this year’s elections, it is that fringe politics and conspiracy theories are not popular. The GOP lost independents by three points to Democrats, a fatal statistic for any midterms. Poor candidate quality, a problem Senator Mitch McConnell pointed out to many Republicans’ chagrin, lost the party winnable seats across the country.

The Democrats played a small part in this result through their cynical support for far-right candidates in Republican primaries who they suspected (correctly) would be easier to beat in November. Through various PACs, Democrats spent around $53.275 million to elevate 13 extreme Republican candidates, six of whom won their primaries. All six lost in November.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with Republican primary voters. They pulled the lever for these candidates, so the Democrats can be said to bear only peripheral blame. Nonetheless, this will not stop some from calling to fight fire with fire, for giving the left a taste of its own medicine. That’s an understandable impulse, but it is also a path that should be avoided.

Participation in the downward spiral of distrust, manipulation, and radicalism is exactly what key independent and moderate voters want out of politics. Neither party today can claim to be reasonable: a large portion of the left has embraced abortion-on-demand and radical identity politics, while a large portion of the right has embraced 2020 election denialism and no-limits politics. Voters just want some sort of normal — real normal, not Joe Biden’s return to “normal.” Indeed, 75 percent of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction. If the GOP adopts the Democrats’ strategy to meddle in primaries, they will only be contributing to the country’s degeneration into tribalism and cross-party hatred.

Rather than playing the Democrats’ game, the GOP can respond by calling out what the left is doing, highlighting their cynicism. It can call attention to the particular ads the left releases in favor of extreme candidates they don’t really support. Of course, it would also be helpful if the GOP’s leaders were willing to stand up to troublemakers in their own party like McConnell has. The best approach to make the Democrats’ primary interventions ineffective is to diminish the legitimacy and appeal of unelectable candidates in the first place.

What the Republican Party needs to do is to reclaim the moral high ground. Playing in the gutter has produced the quagmire it is in today. Middle-of-the-road voters (and most conservatives) want a party they can vote for without having to hold their noses; they want a party that they can be comfortable saying they support in public, without having to include all manner of caveats. Right now, neither party fills that role, but the midterms have provided an opportunity for the GOP to remake itself, to center itself on the successes of reasonable politicians like Ron DeSantis in Florida and Brian Kemp in Georgia.

A successful rebranding, more than anything else, will neuter the left’s meddling. It will also set the GOP on the road to victory in 2024.