Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, who warns in a column titled “False Flags, Sharia Law, and Gun Grabs: GOP Lawmakers Embrace The Crazy,” that the Republican Party, in its ongoing effort to be a kind of political vacuum cleaner of all votes on the right it can muster, is playing a perilous game with its own future — and how our democracy functions.
Despite speculation after the election that the GOP would rebrand, there now seems a)little indication it will happen b)little indication that the most rightwing forces and members of the conservative entertainment complex who make big bucks by getting partisans worked up will allow it to happen. Avlon details some of the Twlight Zone-like theories on the right and laws that can only be passed where GOPers have the power but will turn off independents, moderates and centrists (and yes, they do exist which becomes evident in national elections). He starts off:
A few days after the Boston bombings, Stella Tremblay went to Glenn Beck’s Facebook page to express her conviction that the terror attack was, in fact, orchestrated by the U.S. government
“The Boston Marathon was a Black Ops ‘terrorist’ attack,” she wrote. “One suspect killed, the other one will be too before they even have a chance to speak. Drones and now ‘terrorist’ attacks by our own Government. Sad day, but a ‘wake up’ to all of us.”
She then linked to a video at Infowars.com called Proof! Boston Marathon Bombing is Staged Terror Attack.
Tremblay’s post, though, stood out from the wave of post-attack crazy because of her day job: she is a New Hampshire state legislator.
Like too many enthusiastic dupes, the Republican representative was echoing conspiracy entrepreneurs like Beck and InfoWars’ Alex Jones, who blend dark alternate history with a dystopian future, offering the listeners the “secret truth.”
Tremblay is part of a disturbing trend of – conservative state legislators and even congressmen entertaining conspiracy theories that are creepy and unseemly coming from average citizen, but a sign of civic rot when they start getting parroted by elected officials.
Of course, craziness is a bipartisan issue, with Republicans frequently pointing to former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as a Democratic example – but the right has been particularly prone to paranoia since Bush Derangement Syndrone on the left gave way to an epic case of Obama Derangement Syndrome from the other side.
He details some how some laws are motivated by an justified by a world belief that suggests those who have ib believe in black helicopters, then writes:
Adding to the reality-free high pitch of anxiety was the Texas state attorney general who – during the height of the North Korean escalation earlier this month – declared that the real danger to America wasn’t a communist dictatorship threatening to attacks us with nuclear weapons, but the Obama administration.
“One thing that requires ongoing vigilance is the reality that the state of Texas is coming under a new ?assault,” A.G. Greg Abbott said, according to the Waco Tribune, “an assault far more dangerous than what the leader of North Korea threatened when he said he was going to add Austin, Texas, as one of the recipients of his nuclear weapons. The threat that we’re getting is the threat from the Obama administration and his political machine.”
This is the leading elected law enforcement official in our second-largest state.
He gives some more examples, then:
This sickness is starting to infect the halls of Congress. Friday, Congressman Louie Gohmert couldn’t resist telling WND radio that, “This administration has so many Muslim brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America.”
That remark came just a day after Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jason Chaffetz of Utah held a hearing “to examine the procurement of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.”
Perhaps the highest profile impact of conspiracy theories to date on national policy was the defeat of the universal background check bill – specifically the widespread claims threat that closing existing loopholes would be a first step toward a national gun registry that would in turn bring Hitler-style confiscation to America. That, of course, would in turn lead to martial law, as former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee explicitly claimed on his radio show earlier this month.
Never mind that the bill explicitly made it a criminal offense to make any such list—fear-fueled hyper-partisan narratives can outweigh facts. As Jonathan Swift famously put it, “you cannot reason someone out of something they were not reasoned into.”
The fact that conspiracy theories are percolating up to local party leaders and even the halls of Congress should be a warning sign for the GOP. As the faithful know, you reap what you sow, and the steady diet of hyper-partisan media has seeded these conspiracy theories in the minds of party activists to the extent that they are starting to shape policy debates. The embarrassing incidents are evidence of a larger problem that needs to be confronted: when you do not condemn the use of hate and fear to serve as a recruiting tool against your political opponents, the ability to reason together is undermined and self-government is compromised. There is a cost to condoning extremism when it seems to benefit “your team.”
There’s a LOT more so go to the link and read it in its entirety.
This music and intro are fitting when you read the info in his column in full:
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Avlon’s book of a few years ago is timelier than ever:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.