If you’re like us, you’re wondering what, exactly, the GOP is thinking. Their brazen determination to shut down the government is damaging the party brand, pitting its members against each other, and has no chance of success. The answer as to why they’ve tripled-down on such an obviously doomed plan may lie in the fact that the party’s base, to be blunt, seems to be going a bit crazy.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to believe in conspiracy theories, given the party’s professed skepticism of big government (except in situations dealing with women’s bodies and gay people, that is). What is surprising, though, is just how incredibly batshit crazy a lot of those conspiracy theories are, and how many Republicans apparently believe in them.
Public Policy Polling recently asked Americans of all stripes whether they believe in a multitude of conspiracy theories. Some of the results were kind of what you’d expect — for example, 62 percent of Republicans believe Obama is trying to take away their guns, compared with 14 percent of Democrats. Not all too surprising, given the NRA’s influence on the Republican party and the historical prevalence of anti-gun control misinformation campaigns.
But some of the results were just plain weird. For example, 44 percent of Republicans believe that Obama is trying to usurp the constitution and stay in office after 2017. Okay. Forty-two percent of GOPers think Muslims are secretly implementing Sharia law in the U.S., compared with 12 percent of Democrats, and one in five self-identified Republicans think the government carries out “false flag” operations — that is, they believe that the government intentionally stages terrorist attacks on American soil in order to stoke fear in the public and suppress dissent. Only nine percent of Democrats share that paranoid, Alex Jones-stoked fever dream.
Oh, and more than one in four Republicans think that a global cabal of bankers is planning on eliminating paper currency and transferring all banking online, only to subsequently cut the power grid, thus eliminating the public’s access to money and forcing everybody into worldwide slavery.
The extent of Republicans’ misinformation and delusional beliefs could help explain why the House GOP embarked on this idiotic shutdown crusade to begin with, despite the fact that mathematics, common decency, and political history all suggest it’s a terrible, terrible idea. They’re pandering to the base, and much of the base is losing its grip on reality.
But our favorite conspiracy theory? According to another PPP poll, a suspicion that President Obama gets more characters on Twitter than common plebes like us.