Once upon a time, there were these people known as “moderate Republicans.” They had ideas that may not have been the best policies for moving our country forward, but they tended to be more interested in padding their wallets instead of engaging in extremist politics.
Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. There’s hardly a day that goes by where you don’t hear someone like Ted Cruz open their mouth and say something that would have seriously hurt their career just a couple of decades ago.
This isn’t due to sensationalistic or misleading stories from liberal bloggers determined to take statements made by Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal or other Republicans out of context. This problem stems from the fact that the party has failed to attract new voters and has to rely on an older, staunchly conservative base instead. In order to keep those people under the GOP tent, candidates have to give those people increasingly inflammatory and paranoid rhetoric, or they’ll vote for another candidate who will tell them what they want to hear.
Now, a new poll by Public Policy Polling shows just how uninformed, paranoid and completely divorced from reality the party’s base has become.
A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds [PDF] that one-third of Republicans believe the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory that “the government is trying to take over Texas,” and another 28 percent of GOP voters haven’t made up their minds yet about the matter.
The right-wing frenzy over an upcoming military exercise called Jade Helm 15 has swept up the Republican governor of Texas and several other GOP leaders who wonder if the drill is part of a plan by President Obama to seize Texas, impose martial law, confiscate firearms and throw conservatives into closed Walmart stores that have been converted into FEMA camps.
Among Republicans, PPP found that supporters of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were most likely to believe the conspiracy theory. (Source)
This poll illustrates just how far right the party has swung, and that’s really troubling not just for Republicans, but for us as a nation as well. This isn’t a one-time fluke, either; a poll back in 2013 found that nearly the same percentage of Republicans in Louisiana blamed President Obama for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina, despite the fact Katrina struck 3 full years before he was even elected.
So if approximately a third or more of your party believes that the military training exercise known as Jade Helm is part of President Obama’s plans to invade a state that is already part of the United States and is chock full of American military bases, perhaps it might be obvious to conservatives exactly why people like myself think the Republican Party has become nuttier than a squirrel turd? Granted, there has always been a paranoid fringe within Republican ranks and the left is certainly not immune from it either (especially when it comes to a fear of science and technology). This was rightfully pointed out by Rich Lowry on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday when he claimed that conspiracy stories weren’t unique to conservatives, and cited the example of Naomi Wolf and her assertions that George W. Bush would declare martial law in order to secure a third term in office.
While I am not aware of any polling that asked Democrats in 2008 whether or not they believed George W. Bush would suspend the Constitution to stay in the White House, I think it’s safe to say that people who bought into Naomi Wolf’s paranoid ideas were a small minority within party ranks. However, when a third or more of Republican voters believe conspiracy nonsense peddled by websites like Infowars or David Icke, it isn’t being hyperbolic to call them crazy.
If Republicans want people like me to stop pointing out the epic levels of paranoia and ignorance in the party and how it’s driving people away from the GOP, then maybe they should work to counter that issue. The problem is that they have invested too many years in the culture wars and allowed people who would have been laughed at decades ago to move into the Republican spotlight – and it’s too late for them to turn back now.
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