Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Fewer crackpots, please

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Fewer crackpots, please 

Right needs converts, not conspiracy theories

Waukesha Freeman 11/29/12 Page A8

I am the skeptic in my family, and it serves me pretty well. While my family gathers around the television on Sunday nights to watch “Finding Bigfoot,” I’m usually asking the tough questions. “Why aren’t there Bigfoot skeletons? Or even a fossil record? How come no hunter has ever shot a Bigfoot, even on accident?”

So I’m banished to the kitchen while my questions go unanswered and my daughter practices her Bigfoot calls. It’s harmless fun.

Unfortunately, some crackpot ideas are not as harmless, especially in politics. Too many people are willing to think the worst of their neighbors in order to find some comfort in bizarre theories.

Conspiracy theories and political paranoia are not new phenomena, but the current indulgence in crackpot political ideas by some on the right is only hurting their own cause.

We are all familiar with some of the favorite conspiracy theories, all thoroughly discredited: Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman who killed Kennedy. Man never walked on the moon. The Doors’ Jim Morrison is alive somewhere.

In recent years, the theories have had a poisoning effect on politics. Many on the Democratic left and in the Libertarian Party believe that the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were really controlled detonations by agents of the Bush administration.

On the right, there has been a quixotic pursuit of proof that President Barack Obama was really born in Kenya.To steal a line from the great Russell Kirk, Obama isn’t a Kenyan, he’s a golfer.

Since the golfer in chief’s re-election, the amount of crackpotism on the right has surged.

Part of it is denial. If someone believes that Obama stole the election through fraud, they don’t have to believe that millions of Americans chose to re-elect the creator of Obamacare who presided over $6 trillion in new debt.

Some on the right, including a state legislator from Idaho, are even suggesting boycotting the Electoral College vote to force the election into the House of Representatives. It is a strange misreading of the Constitution by people who claim to be strict Constitutionalists.

Then there is the response. If Obama is somehow illegitimate, then his laws should have no force. So we have nine members of the Legislature who bizarrely believe that Wisconsin law enforcement should arrest any federal agent that attempts to implement Obamacare here.

Among the nine are local state Reps. Chris Kapenga and Rob Hutton, and state Sen. Mary Lazich.

They believe that states have the right to declare federal laws null and void (nullification) if the laws are unconstitutional. It was last tried in Wisconsin before the Civil War to thwart the federal fugitive slave law. However, even the supporters of nullification from that era did not arrest federal officials trying to enforce the law.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, and nullification has not been a credible idea in our state since.

If the failed idea of nullification isn’t strong enough, there is always secession. There are now secession petitions started in each of the 50 states.

Last I checked my history books, secession was effectively dealt with 1865. Some of you may have learned this at the movie theaters recently.

All of these crackpot ideas may indulge some desire by some on the right for political escapism. They are also distracting from real efforts to push back against growing government power and the Obamacare program.

No single election is a permanent defeat. However, if a significant portion of the population loses faith in the ability of real democratic processes to improve our country, we might as well concede defeat in every forthcoming election, too.

The crackpots on the right are also damaging the entire conservative movement’s ability to attract new converts to the vision of smaller government, responsible budgets, and strength abroad. No new converts means permanent minority status and plenty of time to think of new conspiracy theories.

John Lennon once sang, “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.” It also holds true when some on the right equate Obama with Mao.

What we need are few less people on the right carrying the pictures of Mao and Kenya, and a few more on the right reaching out to our fellow Americans who disagreed with us in the last election.

Less crackpot ideas, please.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)


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