"It Didn't Start with Trump." That is the title of a Mother Jones article, authored by one David Corn, outlining how the Republican party began to go off the rails back in the 1950s, back in the days of Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare. It continued on with the John Birch Society pushing for and succeeding in securing Barry Goldwater's presidential nomination in 1964, went further with Nixon's "Southern Strategy," and yet disastrously further with Ronald Reagan's invitation to the Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority to join forces with Republicans. It didn't stop there, as we well know.
As substantive evidence to all of the above, I refer you both to the Mother Jones article cited above and to the interview of David Corn by the staff of Morning Joe, which I have posted below. Having seen this interview and read the article, I am utterly convinced that This Is NOTHING NEW for the Republican party. This is an ongoing pattern of paranoia and extremism which has slowly but surely poisoned the GOP, to the point where now, QAnon and fake news are part and parcel of their SOP.
This needs to be clearly understood ... and it needs to be STOPPED.
I'm going to give this a nudge, because for SOME odd reason, it didn't show up on my home page activity list ... and I think it's important enough that someone besides me should know about it!
It does show up, Loren, and it sure is interesting!
A vital history lesson.
There is an objective reality behind most 'conspiracy theories'. That is, not that the theories are all true, or that any of them are true, but that the feeling that ordinary people are not told the truth about what's going on in the world, if the elite/ruling class doesn't want them to know ... that's entirely true.
And it doesn't have to be a 'conspiracy' by the elite or anyone else. 'Conspiracy' is really the wrong word. We need a word for something like 'unspoken but widely acknowledged agreement to hide unpleasant truths, and/or promulgate distortions of the truth'.
For example: year after year, our military leaders in Afghanistan told us that progress was being made. Afghanistan was being slowly transformed into an approximation of a liberal democracy. And then came the near-instantaneous collapse and the victory of the Taliban. Now either the people who told us these untruths actually believed them, or they were lying -- or some combination of the two. But if you were an ordinary Amrican whose taxes, and sometimes whose children, were sent to Afghanistan ... after the collapse, wouldn't you be inclined to distrust our leaders?
Or take Iraq: we were told they were well on their way to having nuclear weapons, so we had to invade them A lie, and this time, a pretty conscious one. How sad that Colin Powell, a decent man, destroyed his reputation by shilling for George Bush (who in turn, was the pawn of the neo-cons, who disagreed with Robespierre's observtion that 'people do not love missionaries with bayonets'.)
And what did the invasion accomplish, besides a lot of destruction and dead bodies, both Iraqi and American? Now the theocracy of Iran has had its main enemy removed, and is on the way to being a regional power. With nuclear weapons, sooner or later. A conspiracy?
Or take the violent protest of the summer of 2020. "Mostly peaceful," the mass media said. The same media always downplay violence which runs against their leftist political beliefs, and make sure to publicize violence by right wingers which fits their political beliefs. (Examples supplied on request, for the skeptical.) So people are perfectly justified in not trusting the mass media. Is it a 'conspiracy'? We don't need to quibble over definitions. It's the equivalent of one.
McCarthyism was an abomination, but it had a rational kernal: the Communist Party of the US was indeed a puppet of the Soviet state, and gained a lot of influence in various places, including in the US government, before and during WWII. It controlled 11 national unions, 1/3 of the CIO, and had sympathyzers and "dues-cheating" members in high places in the government, and great influence in certain state organizations of the Democratic Party.
For years, liberals believed that Whitticker Chambers had slandered Alger Hiss, until the publication of the decode Verona intercepts. [ You can read both sides of the was-Hiss-guilty argument here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alger_Hiss ]
And don't just blame the Republicans for the hysteria of the times. Communism appeared to be spreading over the world, and in those days, it was accompanied by firing squads. In 1954, the most draconian legislation ever passed by Congress, The Communist Control Act of 1954, was co-sponsored by Hubert Humphrey, the Bernie Sanders of his day.
More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Control_Act_of_1954
From the Wiki article: "The overwhelming support provided by the liberals has attracted much attention from historians such as Mary McAuliffe (The Journal of American History). McAuliffe argues that the perceived gravity of the threat of Communism during the Cold War led some liberals to ignore the fact that the CCA suspended the citizenship rights of the Communist Party members. Most liberal Democrats did not even offer a token opposition to the Act; on the contrary, they ardently supported it."
There is no doubt that in the past, the Right was far less supportive of free speech than the (non-Communist) Left. Today they have changed places. It's the Left who are illiberal.
I have found that on both the Left and the Right, few people are willing to serious consider information that seems to contradict their religious beliefs. (In the case of the Left, these religious beliefs -- ie beliefs held on faith without reference to facts -- are poltiical, not supernatural. But they are religious nonetheless.)