Politicking

The Paranoid Style Continues

Trump-Alex-Jones

Rachel Maddow’s op-ed in the Washington Post comments on Donald Trump, now the undisputed leader among Republican presidential candidates, flirting with conspiracy king Alex Jones:

“It may not be that crazy that Trump is embracing Jones, and it may not be that crazy that Trump is leading the Republican presidential field. But to have the leader of the Republican presidential field embracing someone like Jones? That’s nuts. That’s something new.”

Nuts? Well, sure, to us rational people it’s nuts. But strategically it’s something Republican candidates are going to have to do from now on if they want to get the nomination or overpower third-party contenders a la Trump should he choose to run independently. It’s a strategic move by Trump because he’s tapping into a nearly six million-strong audience. He’s being consistent with his own conspiratorial past. He’s courting a group of Republicans that we can no longer call the ‘fringe.’

Public Policy Polling asked both Obama and Romney voters in early 2013 about certain conspiracies, and the results shouldn’t really shock you. Of Romney voters,

  • 61% believe global warming is a hoax
  • 38% believe in the New World Order
  • 22% believe vaccines cause autism
  • 25% believe in a JFK assassination conspiracy
  • 18% believe the government controls minds through TV
  • 17% believe big pharma creates diseases to make money

Later in the same year, PPP found the following about Republicans:

  • 61% believe Obama is trying to take their guns away
  • 21% believe the government executes false-flag operations (21% unsure)
  • 44% believe Obama is trying to find a way to stay in office after 2016
  • 42% believe Muslims are implementing Sharia Law in American court systems

All of which, of course, Alex Jones has espoused in one way or the other; so if he’s the fringe, then so is a large chunk of the Republican Party. But Republicans aren’t getting all their news from blowhards like Jones—Jones is where some stop off when they haven’t gotten their fill of crazy. How regularly do Fox, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, Drudge Report, et al, talk about this shit? How many Jenny McCarthys are out there claiming vaccines cause autism? How many Republicans denounce climate change as a liberal hoax? How many bullshit fear-mongering points like ‘terrorist fist jabs’ get an undeserved shelf life?

This isn’t a fringe movement. This is mainstream USA. And it’s the right that stirs up this shit far more than the left, which is why anyone who wants to be a Republican president ought to get on the bandwagon of conspiracy nuts.

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