Earlier this week regarding, the of the state of Texas, Greg Abbott made headlines by sending elements of the Texas State (National) Guard to “monitor” U.S. Army Special Forces, which had been engaging in training exercises in parts of the state. The decision by Abbott to activate the Guard for that purpose was due largely in response to rumors which had been circulating on internet indicating that the Army maneuvers were part of an impending “federal government takeover” of parts of the state (see: "Pentagon: No Texas Takeover Plot" on CNN.com). On the surface, this move by the governor and his supporters seemed to be more akin to a outrageously lame plot from “B” movie starring the likes of Jack Black or Seth Rogen. However, I found myself—as I always have been—fascinated as to why so many Americans are so willing (and capable) of embracing conspiracy theories that border on insanity—but believe what they think to be so rational in substance. The last time I wrote a piece about such crazed thinking, I was accused of being a “closet liberal” for pointing out so many conspiracy theories embraced by those on the right, simply because I highlighted so many of these questionable beliefs held by those on the right. Of course, the fact that I was just as willing to assert that some crazy myths held by the left was overlooked by critics. Ironically, the failure by those on the right and the left to accept that some among their number are borderline paranoids for embracing such questionable beliefs is kind of a conspiracy theory in itself. In fact, as I researched background for this piece, those who identified as political conservatives believed that liberals embraced more conspiracy theories than themselves—and vice-versa for liberals. Consider the results of a poll by Public Policy Polling:
44% of voters believe the Bush administration intentionally misled the public about weapons of mass destruction to promote the Iraq War, while 45% disagree. 72% of Democrats believed the statement while 73% of Republicans did not. 22% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans and 28% of independents believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Just 6% of voters think Osama bin Laden is still alive. (“Democrats and Republicans Differ on Conspiracy Theory Beliefs”).
In essence, the crazier someone is, the more they are likely to reject the notion.
But oddly enough, partisan conspiracy theorists have more in common than they’d like to believe. Both those on the left and the right believe that small cabals of politically and economically powerful individuals control and manipulate events in both America and the world. On the left, most see this collective Boogey Man in the form of the fabled “Illuminati;” on the right, the mythical “Trilateral Commission” or “New World Order.” Additionally, but those on the left and right believe our politicians are Lex Luthoresqe evil masterminds who likewise manipulate our government for their nefarious ends. Many on the left believe that the ill-fated decision by the Bush II Administration to invade Iraq in 2003 was motivated by helping out politically-connected military contractors make huge profits from the war. While those on the right believe President Obama’s questionable decision to make citizenship easier for illegal immigrants (yes, I know it’s an outdated and politically-incorrect term, but reality is what it is…euphemisms won’t change it) to obtain is motivated by creating more Democratically-leaning future voters.
While I personally don’t give our politicians much credit for being so far-reaching in their ambitions and goals, I realize that nothing that happens in the realm of politics is clearly done by serendipity. Yes, new voter ID laws are meant to counter the projected change in population demographics in future elections that are anticipated to swing in the direction of the Democrats. And yes, the death of the late Ambassador to Libya and 3 of his aides was a tragedy of incompetence and lack of foresight by the Obama Administration. But do these events rise to the level of plotted schemes with methodically- measured outcomes that favor the “schemers?” Of course not. However, I also realize that no amount of reason, logic, official findings, or empirical proofs will change the minds of those determined to reject reality in favor of their personal beliefs and/or biases.
What’s worse, our political leaders—like Governor Abbott—will avoid using the power and influence of their positions to even attempt talk some sense into conspiracy nuts, and often instead embrace and even enable these insane beliefs. It’s why some politicians won’t come out and clearly state that President Obama was born in the U.S., and not in Kenya. And why others won’t just say that vaccines don’t cause autism…because while they may not create conspiracy theories, many politicians do benefit from their acceptance.
But politicians are just being politicians. We can’t fully blame them for following the sometimes questionable thinking of the American voter. They don’t fully create conspiracy theory narratives. The blame for “bad government” and “bad leadership” is the direct fault of misinformed, ill-informed, selectively-informed, and just nut-case American voters who affect policy with their delusional beliefs--whom they believe are the stuff of reason.
But—sadly—you still have the right to believe in whatever crazy, unsubstantiated, irrational, paranoid, and borderline insane issue that you feel is "reasonable." But know that the federal government is not coming to take over the state of Texas...or any other state for that matter. And while we're on the subject, the federal government is not coming to take your guns. You have the right to believe in what ever religion as you always have. And the public schools are not "indoctrinating" your children--hell, they are hardly teaching them, as these crazy beliefs prove.