As Donald Trump and his conservative defenders begin to construct a conspiracy theory that Adam Schiff personally orchestrated a massive conspiracy to entrap Trump in Ukraine, it’s worth noting just how many conspiracy theories you have to believe in just to be a standard Republican these days. Political parties in all eras have a number of questionable orthodoxies, but the sheer number of conspiracy theories that make up mainstream Republican ideology is remarkable. A quick rundown would include but not be limited to;
1. The belief that 10,000 climate scientists all around the world are either stupid, or engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy to concoct bad science in order to receive…more government grant funding. And that no other scientists are exposing it.
2. The belief that there is a giant conspiracy across all of news media to make Republicans look bad and elect Democrats–in spite of continually unfair press coverage of candidates like both Bernie Sanders *and* Hillary Clinton–in exchange for…what? It’s never really clear.
3. The belief without evidence that there is a giant conspiracy across local, state and federal elections officials all across the country to engage in mass wide-scale voter impersonation fraud. Needless to say, this would be insanely complicated, incredibly risky and hugely inefficient.
4. The belief that that there is a giant conspiracy to push migrants to the border in order to change the demographics of the U.S., in order to…increase taxes and gain “control”? This is a pretty nonsensical conspiracy, but it’s among the most common. It’s no surprise that this sort of rhetoric echoes fascist antisemitic tropes, which is why George Soros is so commonly included.
5. The belief that there was a deep conspiracy to elect a man named “Barack Hussein Obama” to the presidency in order to implement socialism in America…and that the shadowy socialist cabal picked a guy named “Barack Hussein Obama” for the job. Or made up his birth certificate from scratch and decided on one of the most unlikely presidential names imaginable in his birth year.
6. The belief that the “Deep State” entrapped Trump with Russia entanglements before the 2016 in order to derail his presidency if he won, but didn’t use it to stop him from winning, but were blindsided when he won, but have stymied his every move afterward.
7. The belief that there is a giant unexposed conspiracy of 100,000s of teachers/faculty across PreK and higher education to indoctrinate young people. Rather than students and young adults not buying into bigotry and doctrine once they learn something.
8. The belief that a tiny group of obscenely rich industrialists are the only truthtellers, the only ones looking out for the “forgotten man”, while millions of middle class professionals and civil servants are corrupt liars. This one is particularly ironic, as it represents a twisted funhouse version of Marxist theory.
9. The belief that millions of people want to disarm them to leave them defenseless against looters, burglars and Liberal Fascism ™, rather than just want their kids not to get shot at school again and again by trigger-happy Rambo cosplayers.
10. The belief that Green Energy is a scam to give connected companies money and make coal miners homeless, rather than an effort to save millions of lives from climate change, pollution and black lung.
11. The belief that social services are an intentionally corrupt scam to keep minority groups on the “Democrat Plantation” ™, rather than a good-faith effort to make up for the predations of a brutal market in a society riddled with horrific structural racism.
It goes on and on. And that’s just the standard stuff you hear from most GOP politicians on any given day. It doesn’t even get into the really weird conspiracies that millions of Republican voters actively believe, like QAnon, secret 5th column communists, pedophile illuminati, etc. It also doesn’t touch the dangerously errant shibboleths like “tax cuts pay for themselves” or “anyone can escape poverty if they really want to” which, while not conspiracy theories, are false articles of faith with destructive consequences.
Again, it would be one thing if these beliefs were limited to the GOP base. But it’s not just the rubes. It’s the Senators and the Representatives. It’s the President and his lawyers. They all feed from the paranoid conservative infotainment trough, which has to up the ante every year in order to make the world as it really is match up somehow with false conservative ideological orthodoxy.
It’s conspiracy theory turtles all the way down. And needless to say, in a two-party system, it’s incredibly dangerous for one party to be this far gone from reality.