Conservatism Is A Desperate, Sick And Absurd Conspiracy Theory

I can pinpoint one of the most gut-wrenching days of my life. November 2, 2004. I can almost nail the exact moment it became terrible: about 10:30 pm, EST.

That was the moment in which America decided to re-elect George W. Bush. I’ve analyzed that moment over and over and over, and I will go to my grave not understanding what, exactly, America was thinking.

For today’s conservative movement, it seems almost every day treats them like I felt that day.

The back to back elections of Barack Obama and the coalition that elected him were a direct rebuke to the world conservatives know and love. Even when they lost to Bill Clinton, they could comfort themselves with the thought that he pandered to some elements of conservatism, was from the south, and was a white male – and hey, he didn’t even get a majority* of the votes both times he ran. Losing to Clinton was disconcerting for the right, but here comes Obama, with well over 50% of the vote, winning with single women, minorities, all while getting walloped among white voters.


It just isn’t done. Even worse, he did so while campaigning on raising taxes on the wealthy and in the midst of a much slower economic recovery than in the past.

Especially for older conservatives, this has made them feel as if America is being ripped out of their hands.

And in response they have turned themselves over to extreme crackpot conspiracies.

People turn to conspiracies to explain things that seem illogical. In the past those catalyzing events have been the murder of a president, the killing of a presidential candidate, or a mass casualty terrorist attack on one of the world’s most important cities.

A conspiracy theory grows because it has to make the world make sense again.

To these people on the right, still confused as to how Obama could win and still maintain his office, it just makes sense that a bureaucratic screwup in the IRS couldn’t just be that. It has to be a vast and complex plan from the President himself, so obsessed with winning re-election that he did what tyrants always do and sort of kind of ordered a review of applications for non-profit groups. It’s an absurd idea, and a poor use of tyrannical powers in my point of view, but it is now an accepted article of faith on the mainstream right.

Similarly, a tragic terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in an unstable Middle Eastern country couldn’t just be what it appears for all intents and purposes to be. No, instead it’s a CIA operation covered up by a bumbling president because as we all know, the 2012 election swung on the events of a single day in a city most Americans couldn’t point out on a map.

Everything has become a conspiracy in the era of Obama, and double so since Obama’s election. Normally mundane activities – the President playing golf, his wife going on a foreign trip, the exchange of gifts with the Queen of England – have now become elaborate strategies executed by President Obama and his obedient henchmen, and of course covered up by his toadies in the mainstream media.

Actual Conservative Meme:


It’s the only way they can make sense of the world they once held in the palm of their hands now slipping away into the mitts of people they believe to be inferior in every manner.

Even the likelihood of some conservative victories in the fall elections won’t be able to chip away at the thought nagging them in the base of their brains. They now know that 2010 was not a harbinger of the resurgence of the Reagan coalition two years later. The Reagan coalition had its rear spanked and can’t realistically ever wield the power it did 30 long years ago.

Flash forward two years from now, and there is the distinct possibility that another person they are only capable of seeing as a caricature could once again snatch the precious out of their hands. A coalition of the unworthy can cobble together a majority, even as they repeat “Reagan, Reagan, Reagan” in a desperate mantra meant to disappear the progress of the last three decades.

And if she wins, you can expect another weird, illogical theory explaining it away. Again. Because the conservative movement is now a conspiracy theory.

* Correction: I originally said plurality when I meant majority


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  • tomshefchik

    The reactionaries are all about projection. Because they have no ethics or integrity, they believe no one else can possess those traits. Because they are willing to lie, cheat, and steal elections, they believe everyone else must be as immoral as they. Those in the Tea Farty Party are emotionally immature.

  • Jado

    From what i remember (as a tween), Reagan represented a chance that we could get back to what we had thru the late 50s/early 60s in terms of prosperity. There was the idea that the decline wasn’t all corporate policy changes thru that time, but some sort of existential change we went thru. things were bad, but we were confused as to WHY exactly they went bad. And here was old grampa Ronnie saying we could get back to that feeling of control we once had, even though it was an illusion in the first place. So, we went with it. And it worked, for the first few years.

    Then the mask slipped, and the leashes came away from the rabid slavering beasts of the corporate world, and things started to change FAST. Industry went a way, companies were bought and the pieces auctioned away by raiders with no regard for the stranded workers, and the stock market soared while the average worker lost buying power.

    And over the next 30 years, fewer and fewer of us bought the line that if we just let the Repubs have control, it will all go back the way it was.

    And now, they have totally lost their minds. I voted for Bush I, and initially supported McCain against Obama (until he showed that he had sold his soul for the nomination and chose Caribou Barbie for a running mate), but I wouldn’t vote for a Repub to be dog catcher nowadays.

    They had me in 1980, 84, and 88, but repeated blows to the head and neck took their toll, and now I know who to blame. I won’t forget anytime soon. I hope they eat themselves.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    If you were to tell anyone in September of 2000 that if George W. Bush became president, by the time he left office we would have deliberately un-balanced a balanced budget, suffered the worst terrorist attack on American soil in history, been embroiled in two open-ended foreign wars (funded entirely by borrowing), doubled the national debt, be paying $4.50 a gallon for gasoline, created the largest new federal bureaucracy since the New Deal, the most expensive new federal entitlement program since Medicaid, and the most sweeping curtailment of individual liberties since the Alien and Sedition Acts, had a major city almost completely destroyed by a hurricane, had practically zero net job growth, suffered the most massive economic meltdown since the Great Depression, and essentially no significant domestic accomplishments of any kind whatsoever, they would have called you a conspiracy theorist.

    • Saren Arterius

      All the conservatives I know who complain about gas prices – I mean, literally all of them – don’t even acknowledge gas ever got that high when Bush was in office. All they remember is how it got down in the high 1’s/low 2’s when Obama took office and then it went up from there.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        History began at 12:01 pm on 20 January 2009.

  • wetcasements

    The GOP is doomed in the long run and it’s beautiful.

    And no, the one thing that could save them — decent immigration reform — isn’t going to happen.

    Their salty, rage-filled tears are delicious.

    • Mainlander

      “Immigration reform” saves them how? Your disconnect from reality is non-delicious.

      • BlobbyJoe

        Not immediately, but in the long run it would counterbalance the demographic losses that are bound to amplify dem wins.

  • Jon Fox

    This is media collaboration with a White house:

    not whatever they’re whining about.

  • TrollBaby

    Wonderful writeup.

  • don

    I think it is useful to look a what words mean in their original form. Conspiracy comes from con spire or essentially Latin for “with spirit”. Meaning an almost having an ethereal quality that you can’t see or touch. Like racketeering we know conspiracies exist but they are hard to prove. The flip side is that one can make accusations that are hard to disprove and are therefore clothed as a conspiracy theory and gain credibility to those willing to believe. Something I think the author of the post is getting at. Conspiracies do exist. I think that systematic racism qualifies as a conspiracy for instance. It exists. But, usually, it is hard to point to and say “see there .. self evident racism”. I also think that conspiracy can take on a more vague nature. For instance, I think it is hard to look back at the Sixties and consider that the top three leaders of the Liberal movement were all assassinated within five years of each other and wonder was their at least a dark spirit in the opposition willing to kill to achieve their goals. Then I look at the horror of Vietnam and slap my head and think of course they were capable of such things. I don’t have to connect every dot to realize something was lurking. Can you imagine three conservative leaders being taken out within five years without a stream of conspiracy accusations?

    My point is don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, people extrapolate to ridiculous extremes but doesn’t mean that people aren’t networked. People aren’t connected. And, people don’t act in their own self interest with the public responsibility they have been given. And, often, they do things in secret they wouldn’t do in public. They conspire. Also, don’t fall into the trap in thinking that politicians on the Left are less susceptible than those on the Right in doing such things. They are. They may not be as good it but they do it. So, it is good to keep a healthy level of skepticism about those in power even if you like them. Just think, you could be facing a Cristie or Bush III administration in just 2.5 short years.

    • Gordon Guano

      “Conspire” actually means something more like ” to breathe together”.

      • don

        I have no quibble with you really. Spirit and breath are related in this context.

  • Aaron Litz

    I was at my computer, listening to the election results on the TV behind me, as I played EverQuest with my guildmates who had all been working in various ways to aid the Kerry campaign, whether it was passing out flyers in their local communities, or working to help on the Internet like most of us in the guild did. We were raiding a Sol A as we listened to the results come in. When it became clear Kerry had lost and G-dub had been re-elected, we lost all heart in what we were doing and just evac’d out of the dungeon, just moments away from entering Sol B and the big fight with Lord Nagafen.

    It was a very depressing night.

    • don

      You could look at the polling about four days out in 04 and see that Bush was going squeak by. Though I supported Kerry I was a Howard Dean guy. Even still as I waited for the election over that week what depressed me so much (and still) is that re-electing Bush meant that the American people now owned the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Until then, it was Bush’s and the neocon’s wars. I think the World kind of thought that too. Somehow, we had embraced “the dark side”.

      • D_C_Wilson

        I still remember the headline from the UK, “How can X million Americans be so stupid?” Of course, they had Tony Blair, which didn’t give them much room to talk. But, still.

    • Mainlander

      A nerd and a “progressive”. Depressing indeed.

  • NintendoWii10

    Thanks to Stephanie Miller for this pic!

  • ranger11

    Armed Mommy? Damn. I guess she doesn’t bake cookies.

  • D. Alexander

    What happens when it is pointed out that the Republican party is 87% white? Pew had them at 87% and Gallup had them at 89% in 2012. An article in the American Prospect researched some of what has happened to the Republican party since Nixon; it’s titled “The First All White White Political Party”.

    • conundrum

      For all the talk about how “white” the Republican party is, it’s kind of surprising that they are 11 to 13% non-white.

  • Richard_thunderbay

    The day after Bush’s reelection, not only was I incredibly depressed, but I had a feeling of foreboding. The economic meltdown that we eventually did suffer in 2008 was exactly the sort of thing I was worried about.

  • Lady Willpower

    Somebody fire up the Dennis-Signal!

  • Lady Willpower

    Ugh, Hobo font.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Fun fact: the news director at Fox who was in charge of calling the states during the 2000 election was John Ellis, cousin to George W. Bush

    • JozefAL

      I was going to note that the cons are willing to turn a blind eye when THEIR “news organizations” have ties to people inside GOP administrations.

  • condew

    The conservative chart showing 3 family relationships looks so simple compared to the byzantine money laundering operations of Tom Delay and the newer Koch Brothers machine.

    • jmhall2369

      It’s Barack-holm Syndrome.