How The Right's Latest Conspiracy Theory Might Unleash a Wave of Domestic Terrorism if Obama Wins
Two of the Fort Stewart soldiers charged with murder and conspiracy to assassinate Obama.
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
In a somewhat desperate attempt to maintain morale among a Republican base that disdains its standard-bearer, a number of conservative media outlets are pushing an alternate reality in which Mitt Romney is leading in the polls by wide margins and American voters have a decidedly negative view not of the challenger, but of Barack Obama.
It's an exceptionally dangerous game that the right-wing media are playing. If Obama wins – and according to polling guru Nate Silver, he'd have a 95 percent chance of doing so if the vote were held today – there's a very real danger that this spin -- combined with other campaign narratives that are popular among the far-right -- could create a post-election environment so toxic that it yields an outburst of politically motivated violence.
A strategy that began with a series of rather silly columns comparing 2012 with 1980, and assuring jittery conservatives that a huge mass of independents was sure to break for Romney late and deliver Obama the crushing defeat he so richly deserves, entered new territory with the bizarre belief that all the polls are wrong. And not only wrong, but intentionally rigged by “biased pollsters” – including those at Fox News – in the tank for Obama. (See Alex Pareene's piece for more on the right's new theory that the polls are being systematically “skewed.”)
Consider how a loosely-hinged member of the right-wing fringe – an unstable individual among the third of conservative Republicans who believe Obama's a Muslim or the almost two-thirds who think he was born in another country – expecting a landslide victory for the Republican might process an Obama victory. This is a group that has also been told, again and again, that Democrats engage in widespread voter fraud – that there are legions of undocumented immigrants, dead people and ineligible felons voting in this election ( with the help of zombie ACORN). They've been told that Democrats are buying the election with promises of “free stuff” offered to the slothful and unproductive half of the population that pays no federal income taxes and refuses to “take responsibility for their lives” – Romney's 47 percent.
They've also been told – by everyone from NRA president Wayne LaPierre to Mitt Romney himself – that Obama plans to ban gun ownership in his second term. (Two elaborate conspiracy theories have blossomed around this point. One holds that Fast and Furious – which, in reality, is much ado about very little – was designed to elevate gun violence to a point where seizing Americans' firearms would become politically popular. The second holds that a United Nations treaty on small arms transfers (from which the United States has withdrawn) is in fact a stealthy workaround for the Second Amendment.)
And they've been warned in grim, often apocalyptic terms of what's to come in a second term. The film, “2016: Obama's America,” offers a dystopian vision of a third-world America gutted by Obama's supposed obsession with global wealth redistribution. His re-election would bring something far worse than mere socialism – it would be marked by Kenyan anti-colonialism, in which America's wealth is bled off as a form of reparations for centuries of inequities between the global North and South.
These kinds of fringe views aren't relegated to the fever swamps of the right-wing blogosphere – they're often reinforced by elected Republicans. Reps Steve King, R-Iowa, Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas and others warn that the Obama administration has been infiltrated by Islamic Extremists. An elected judge in Texas advocated a tax increase – yes, a tax increase! – in order to better arm local sheriff's deputies whom he claimed would serve on the front-lines of the civil war likely to come should Obama be re-elected. “I’m talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator,” he said.