Republicans must leave Democrats to be the party of conspiracy nuts
The left in general, and the Democrats in particular, will embrace any conspiracy theory that fits its narrative. Leftists have accused Donald Trump of colluding with the Russians, entering into a quid pro quo agreement with Ukraine, and even organizing an armed insurrection against the capital. For leftists, these were not just fringe ideas. They actually acted on them. They conducted a special prosecutor investigation and two impeachments on the basis of these conspiracy allegations.
While it's always tempting to embrace conspiracies that support one's suspicions, conservatives have been and need to remain the "adults in the room." As we're now seeing conspiracy theories from the right, it's important that we not follow the left off this cliff. It's critical that the conservative movement not be perceived as in league with any unsubstantiated conspiracy claims. At best, it would provide fodder to the left-wing propaganda ministry (i.e., mainstream media). At worst, conservatives may find themselves associated with some truly dangerous elements.
As an example, the theories espoused by QAnon come across as not just childish, but downright insane. Unfortunately, there is also the potential for danger in them. QAnon sprang up in 2017 in response to a number of posts on the message board 4chan by a supposed anonymous high-ranking government official known only as "Q." Never mind that "Q" may be a 12-year-old kid with an internet connection and a great sense of humor — QAnon followers anxiously await the posts known as "Q Drops" and feverishly interpret their meanings. One can image followers poring over "Q Drops" just like Ralphie decoding the latest secret message from Little Orphan Annie.
The followers of QAnon assert that there is a secret war going on between evil Satan-worshipers in government and those (especially Donald Trump) opposed to them. They assert that a cabal of pedophiles, led by Hillary Clinton and others, are molesting and killing children to extract a life-extending chemical called adrenochrome. The conservative movement can't allow itself to be associated with any of this lunacy.
Fortunately, we have an example of how to deal with conspiracy nuts. In 1958, Robert Welch founded the John Birch Society (JBS). It was a conservative movement to combat communism, reverse liberal political advances, and revitalize American morality. Its intentions were quite noble. Initially, due to shared goals, many conservative politicians and publications aligned themselves with the JBS.
However, the JBS quickly devolved into a conspiracy cult promoting various claims with no basis in fact. Perhaps the most notorious of their claims was that President Eisenhower, and most of his Cabinet, were communist spies working to intentionally undermine the government.
Another of the JBS claims was that fluoridation of community water supplies was a communist plot to destroy the health and fertility of U.S. citizens. These conspiracy theories became so widespread that Stanley Kubrick even patterned the Dr. Strangelove character General Jack Ripper on JBS founder Robert Welch.
William F. Buckley, the editor of National Review magazine, was initially a friend of Robert Welch. But as Welch scurried down the conspiracy "rabbit hole," Buckley recognized that the conservative movement could no longer be associated with either Welch or the organization he had founded. He began a campaign of articles to expose the John Birch Society as purveyors of unsubstantiated conspiracies. National Review suffered short-term financial losses as a result of this campaign. However, ultimately, the JBS lost a substantial portion of its following. While it continues to exist, and even has some regional impact, the John Birch Society no longer has a significant influence in national politics.
The concerns of William F. Buckley are just as valid today as they were in the 1960s. The conservative movement in general, and the Republican Party in particular, cannot be associated with QAnon or any other conspiracy theorists. Conservatives need to do the serious work of preserving liberty and equality for all Americans. All conservatives with a voice need to speak up loudly that these fringe players do not speak for us. Let the Democrats be the silly party – it's a look that suits them.
John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Star, Idaho. He is a retired engineer with over 40 years of experience in the areas of product development, quality assurance, organizational development, and corporate strategic planning. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Image via Pxhere.