Richardt Stormsgaard: Descent into lunacy
Republicans ended slavery and approximately one century later, Republican legislators cast more votes to pass the Civil and Voting Rights legislation than Democrats did in the 1960s.
“The legitimate object of government is to do for community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot so well do for themselves in their separate and individual capacities” was a quote from Abraham Lincoln about the role of government. It was also a favorite quote of the last great Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. This principle describes very well the limited activist role of governments of liberal democracies in recent history that have brought peace and prosperity to the West.
Control of the Republican Party by moderate Republicans came to an end as conservative Republicans absorbed the Southern Democrats, and increasingly hostile anti-government zealots became more common.
In 1954, Republican Sen. McCarthy of Wisconsin was finally censored by the Senate after sham investigations of dozens of prominent Americans for alleged ties to the Communist Party.
In the 1960s, the John Birch Society established chapters in dozens of states with tens of thousands of members. They claimed the government, the deep state, was controlled by the Communist Party, and included prominent members of academia, the media, the Chamber of Commerce, and even former Republican President Eisenhower. They also denounced the 18th century European Illuminati who, they alleged, opposed “superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power,” philosophies almost identical to those of the founders of the American republic.
In 1972, John Stormer of Missouri published a book, “None Dare Call It Conspiracy,” about “the elite of the academic world and mass media conspiring to create a world supra-government.”
In 1978, Goldwater published “With No Apologies,” which alleged “a globalist conspiracy to create a new world order, an impending period of slavery, and the Trilateral Commission’s plan for seizing control of the political government of the United States.”
In 1978, Hal Lindsey published “The Late, Great Planet Earth,” which alleged a conspiracy between Satan, the Antichrist and other more earthly groups like the newly formed European Economic Community, which was established to promote free trade among its members and further stabilize Europe that twice in the 1900s had drawn the world into war. The EEC was described as “the beast coming up out of the sea, having 10 horns.”
In 1988, televangelist Pat Robertson ran for the Republican nomination. He warned about a conspiracy involving the Illuminati and the Federal Reserve, among others. In this fantasy, the Illuminati had facilitated the Soviet Revolution, including planning its collapse 75 years later to make the new Russia dependent on the Illuminati-run global financial system.
In 1991, Bill Cooper authored “Behold A Pale Horse,” alleging a secret alliance between the U.S. government and extraterrestrials.
The conspiracy theories were now entering the mainstream Republican Party, and the 1996 Republican platform critiqued the United Nations, the 2004 Ppatform declared U.S. troops must never serve under U.N. command, and the 2016 platform called for a constitutional amendment to “protect homeschooling from interference by the states, the federal government, or the United Nations.” The United Nations’ Agenda 21 had provided a voluntary blueprint to address climate change in 1992, but the Republican National Committee denounced it “as a socialist/communist redistribution of wealth,” and a dozen Republican-majority state legislatures passed anti-Agenda 21 resolutions.
By 2000 top Republicans like Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove were advocating “flushing the government down the drain.” Steve Bannon, founder of Breitbart and Trump’s successful campaign manager in 2016, described his mission this way: “I am a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
The relentless attacks on government, science and objective reality now came from the very top of the Republican Party, as did the discredited personal attacks on prominent Democrats: Obama was not born as an American, he was a practicing Muslim, Democratic senators and Hillary Clinton had worked to establish Sharia law in Florida, sold weapons to fund radical Islam, and provided a front for a global network of pedophiles.
Trump had claimed election fraud when he won in 2016, and again in 2020 even when Republican poll watchers, election officials, politicians, and judges found no such evidence and resisted his attempted coup. Yet his followers still believe him, embracing the alternative Trump universe of 25,000 fact-checked lies.
Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.
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