How Conspiracy Theories Poisoned the Republican Party

Wingnuts have become increasingly reliant on reality-defying paranoia. Here’s how it happened. In the 1960s, William F. Buckley tried to banish organized conspiracists from the conservative movement with his crusade against the John Birch Society, which tellingly organized itself secretively, just like the Communists that it believed were everywhere. In a 2008 article in Commentary, Buckley told the story of how he, writer Russell Kirk, AEI’s William Baroody, and Barry Goldwater met in 1962, and discussed “the need to excommunicate the John Birch Society from the conservative movement,” so that they wouldn’t derail a Goldwater presidential bid in 1964. As Buckley described Robert Welch, founder of John Birch Society: His influence was near-hypnotic, and his ideas wild. He said Dwight D. Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” and that the government of the United States was “under operational control of the Communist party.” It was, he […] Read More

The Republican Party’s Contempt for Women Is Truly Breathtaking

Conservatives act like women are not-very-bright children. “Are women adults” is a question that seems to have a simple answer (yes), but looking across the political landscape, it’s clear that a lot of conservatives don’t agree at all, instead seeing women more as large children with whom it’s legal to have sex. Women have been able to vote, sit jury duty and have their own jobs and bank accounts for decades now, but many conservatives continue insisting that women be considered minors who are simply incapable of making even the most basic personal decisions without a firm, guiding, preferably male hand. This mentality is most obvious when considering conservative Christians who treat married women like they are their husbands’ subjects. Using Ephesians 5:22 (“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”) as justification, many Christian conservatives argue that a husband is the head of the household and his […] Read More

My Horrible Right-Wing Past: Confessions of a One-Time Religious Right Icon

I was a religious fanatic appealing to political leaders. Today, the fanatics are the political leaders. I am a white, privileged, well-off, 61-year-old former Republican religious right-wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. The New York Times profiled my change of heart, saying that to my former friends I’m considered a “traitorous prince” since my religious-right family was once thought of as “evangelical royalty.” Only in the Mafia, the British Royal family and big-time American religion is a nepotistic rise to power seen as normal. And I was good at it. And I hated it while hypocritically profiting from it; until, that is, in the mid-1980s, I quit. These days I describe myself as an atheist who believes in God. Ironically, I helped my father become famous in the religion sector. In the 1970s I directed and produced two film series featuring Dad with book companions that became evangelical bestsellers: How […] Read More

7 Most Absurd Instances of GOP Fearmongering (ISIS Is Coming!)

Amid economic progress, the party’s candidates are looking to frighten voters in the coming elections. The GOP is scared its 2014 “wave” isn’t materializing, so it’s trying to scare voters. How? Pretty much with anything in the news cycle. By now the GOP was supposed to be well on its way to taking a solid Senate majority, along with another big chunk of the House. Things aren’t turning out that way: all the Senate races that were supposed to by settled by now instead remain neck and neck; the states the GOP was eyeing for expansion, like Minnesota, have turned back to the Democrats; and new vulnerable states like South Dakota and Kansas have opened up. To make matters worse, the standard bludgeons that the GOP used in 2010—namely spending and the economy—have been subsumed by progress. The unemployment rate has dipped below 6% in half the time Mitt […] Read More

Six States Where GOP Voter Suppression Tactics Could Sway The Outcome

As another federal election cycle heads to a close, Jim Crow’s ghost rises. Anyone who pays attention to American election knows that the Republican Party’s favorite tactic to try on win on Election Day is to change the rules of who can vote and which ballots get counted. This is what happened in presidential elections in Florida in 2000, in Ohio in 2004, and it is behind 2014’s ongoing courtroom fights over allowing same-day voter registration, imposing tougher voter ID requirements, narrowing early voting options, and counting provisional ballots turned in at the wrong table, and on and on. As 2014’s campaigns enter its final stretch, federal and state courts are weighing in on a range of Republican-generated attempts to change the rules. These fights aren’t yet over, so it is hard to say whether this will be an election where most of these tactics will be shown the […] Read More

Will Obama Abandon Tens of Millions of Seniors to Get a Budget Deal with Right-Wing Republicans?

Are cuts to Social Security and Medicare on the table? The next few days may be the most perilous for ordinary Americans in Obama’s presidency, as the White House is looking for a deal with far-right Republicans that takes Obamacare off the budget-cutting table, reopens the federal government and raises its debt ceiling. As the government shutdown continues, Democrats have seen their approval ratings soar, prompting pollsters to say that the GOP will be punished in the next federal election. But what’s shaping up 13 months from now is less important than what will shape up in the next 13 or so days. That’s because the White House’s openness to revive “grand bargain” talks with GOP radicals over future funding for entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, and more tax cuts for the wealthy, can only end badly for the middle- and working-class Americans. “If we went into serious […] Read More

2013: 5 Ways the Shutdown Is Killing Republicans Politically

Forget the idea that this is both parties fault, or people aren’t blaming the GOP. These facts show that’s a crock. Many analysts have compared the lopsided blame Republicans took for the 1995-96 government shutdown to today’s debacle and concluded that the public is more evenly split over who’s to blame this time around. Beyond the fact that hemorrhoids are polling better than Congress these days, here are five other data points that suggest the shutdown will have much bigger electoral consequences for the Republican Party: 1. Republican support lags across multiple voting groups. Though negatives are soaring for both Republicans (70 percent) and Democrats (61 percent), according to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll, the GOP is alienating a wider swath of voters. When comparing the Oct. 7 and Sept. 30 ABC polls, the 7-point increase in Congressional Republicans’ negatives is fueled by higher disapproval among almost every group: Republicans (up 7 points), Democrats (up 9 points), Independents (up […] Read More

2013: How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane

Why aren’t Republicans more frightened of the consequences of a shutdown and default? Part of the reason is magical religious thinking. Why aren’t Republicans more afraid? The entire premise of both the government shutdown and the threats to force the government into debt default is that Democrats care more about the consequences of these actions than the Republicans do. Republicans may go on TV and shed crocodile tears about national monuments being shut down, but the act isn’t really fooling the voters: The only way to understand these fights is to understand that the GOP is threatening to destroy the government and the world economy in order to get rid of Obamacare (as well as a panoply of other right wing demands). Just as terrorists use the fact that you care more about the lives of the hostages than they do to get leverage, Republican threats rely on believing they don’t […] Read More