Conspiracy Theories and GOP: Party to Blame for its Reputation

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Ocala International Airport in Ocala, Fla., October 16, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The only incontrovertibly true sentence I can remember Donald Trump ever having spoken is: “Bad things happen in Philadelphia.”

(There may be others, but I cannot think of any.)

Considering the matter of election fraud, Dennis Prager took to the radio Thursday to complain that Republicans get painted as conspiracy kooks. I sympathize with his complaint, I do.

But the main reason that the Republican Party gets painted as a haven for conspiracy kooks is the fact that the Republican Party is a haven for conspiracy kooks. It would seem less full of conspiracy kooks if it were less full of conspiracy kooks. The GOP needs to read Cicero: Esse quam videri.

The kookery of the GOP goes all the way to the top. Donald Trump is many things, and one of those things is a big-league conspiracy kook. He was bigly into the Obama birth-certificate stuff but also has dabbled in anti-vaccine kookery and 9/11 kookery. He publicizes QAnon kookery when he isn’t helping QAnon kooks get elected to office as Republicans.

Newly elected Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Greene? QAnon kook. Jo Rae Perkins, who just got beat like a rented mule in the Oregon U.S. Senate race? QAnon kook. Mike Cargile, who got pummeled in that House race in California? Big ol’ QAnon kook.

There are more.

Pretty much the entire talk-radio/Fox News conversation is conspiracy kookery: the “Deep State,” which is the slightly more respectable version of the Luciferian pedophile cult of QAnon kookery.

“Cultural Marxism”? Kooks gonna kook.

Republicans—lots of them—will tell you that climate change is not something about which we have a policy disagreement but a hoax, scientists and crypto-Marxists colluding to ruin the U.S. economy on behalf of China or Russia or whomever. They’ll tell you that evolution is a hoax, too, and the scientific journals are colluding to defend it from the devastating scientific critiques of some lawyer in Palm Beach who has figured it all out.

Right-wing social media and some of those half-assed conservative “news” sites are right now trafficking in bumf about election fraud. Why? Because they are conspiracy kooks. It’s their business model.

The thing is, there is election fraud.

We know this. People go to jail for it from time to time. It probably doesn’t throw many elections, but it may—there’s a pretty good case that fraud cost Norm Coleman of Minnesota a U.S. Senate seat in 2008. There may be shenanigans under way right now. But whose word are you going to take on that? Donald Trump’s? Marjorie Taylor Greene’s?

You can’t send a conspiracy kook to the White House and more conspiracy kooks to Congress and then complain when people say your party is full of conspiracy kooks. Because it is full of conspiracy kooks.

Oh, now you’re serious, Republicans? Please. The Republicans are the party that cried “wolf,” and it’s no wonder that people who aren’t already on board aren’t very readily persuaded by claims of widespread ballot fraud.

Which is a shame. Because Philly has guys named Joe Cheeseboro registered to vote with a home address that is, in fact, a 7-Eleven. (Mr. Cheeseboro is listed as living in apartment No. 711, a witty touch). Philadelphia has voters whose addresses are vacant lots. A former judge of elections recently was convicted of taking bribes to stuff ballot boxes on behalf of Democratic patrons.

That wasn’t ancient history—that was May.

Bad things happen in Philadelphia. Here’s U.S. Attorney William McSwain on that corrupt judge of elections, Dominick Demuro: “DeMuro fraudulently stuffed the ballot box by literally standing in a voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, while he thought the coast was clear.” He sold this service for as little as $300 in some cases.

Bad, dumb, low-rent things happen in Philadelphia.

There is corruption. There are abuses of power. There are coverups. There isn’t an underground pedophile cult secretly running things from behind the scenes guided by the ghost of Saul Alinsky and the Frankfurt School. This has been a problem for the Right since the days when the John Birch Society was claiming that Dwight Eisenhower—Ike himself!—was a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist conspiracy.” The Birchers may have had some good points about other stuff, but nobody took them seriously, because they didn’t deserve to be taken seriously, because they were kooks.

If Trump loses this election, as seems likely, there’s going to be a lot more kookery afoot. Kookery isn’t the solution—it’s the problem.

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