Conservative Political Disinformation
Misinformation, disinformation...conspiracy theories...these have been a part of American political life from the beginning. And they appear on both sides of the aisle and all walks of life, particularly misinformation. But there's ample evidence that "both sides" don't do these things in equal measure. On the conservative side of the aisle, this problem has become so rampant it's actually killing people unnecessarily in the COVID-19 pandemic and the insurrection of January 6th.
Most of this misleading, lying and conspiracy-mongering is of the moment, and then it's gone, the willing believers moving onto new, equally wrong ideas. But some of these have persisted and become actual bedrock political ideas on the Right. We'll take a look at a few of these below, and provide links to sources so you can make up your own mind on what the truth is.
Abortion: The replacement wedge issue of the far Right after the Civil Rights era died down. To be sure, there are real and honest differences between those who identify as "pro life" and those identifying as "pro choice." But it's also clear that this issue has been demagogued by many conservatives for decades. The Republican Party has, at times, had complete control of all branches of the Federal Government, and yet have only half-heartedly tried to do anything about it, because 1) while making abortion illegal is popular in some parts of the country, including ours, it is very unpopular with the American public as a whole, and 2) they no longer could use it as a wedge issue if they actually did do something about it!
What is the Democratic Party's stance? Most Democrats fall into the "pro choice" side of the argument. There are a number of Democrats who are personally opposed to abortion, but we all understand that those most qualified to make this kind of decision are the woman, her partner and family, and her doctor. Abortion isn't something that any woman chooses on a whim, it's a painful decision. A summary of the party's positions on this issue can be found here. We will never throw away the fundamental rights of women, nor will we try and coerce them into a "traditional" lifestyle that has more to do with nostalgia than anything else.
And, just to put a final point on it, how "pro life" has the Republican Party been on issues like healthcare (see below)....or the COVID-19 outbreak? If you're going to cry "choice" for refusing to wear masks and social distancing, you're hardly in a moral position to lecture anyone on what they think about this issue, and you're endangering significantly more lives in the process.
Gun Control: "They're (Democrats) coming for our guns!" This conspiratorial nonsense is frequently pushed by conservatives in a nation that has far more guns per person in it now than it has ever had before. Again, this is the result of deliberate demagoguing of the serious issue of just what a "regulated militia" of citizens should look like in the modern world. Read over the stated positions on many current and prominent politicians in both parties here and you'll see that, while there are legitimate disagreements on how much and what type of regulation of more dangerous firearms should take place, there isn't the enormous gulf between the two parties that many want to believe.
QAnon: This absurd conspiracy theory showed how dangerous its delusions were on January 6th. There are now a handful of elected Representatives who publicly state belief in this, including the representative of our own congressional district, GA CD-14. A larger version of the earlier and equally absurd "Pizzagate" conspiracy that nearly ended up getting someone killed, it remains to be seen what impact, if any, this will have on our politics in the wake of the MAGA terrorist insurrection.
Voter Fraud: Source link here on it's lack of evidence; source link here on how Georgia's Republican Senators are falsely claiming it in Georgia. Let's call this one for what it is..."sore loserism." Georgia Republican officials know that no voter fraud took place, and many have said so out loud, but they're continuing to try and use the lies about voter fraud to make it tougher for some segments of the population to vote.
It's Socialism!: Another oldie that Republican demagogues like to dust off whenever a new idea comes along they don't like (which is pretty much all new ideas!) To understand just how phoney this one is, you have to start with a clear definition of what socialism actually is: government ownership and administration of the means of production. Now let's take a look at something Republicans call "socialism" - the drive to provide universal healthcare coverage for all Americans. Republicans can't come out and say what they really think...we can live with millions of Americans suffering needlessly and dying prematurely just to keep taxes for the wealthy lower. So instead of the truth, they cry "socialism!" instead.
But are Democratic plans actually "socialism"? Bernie Sanders' plan of abolishing private health insurance and having one government plan for everyone actually does qualify as a kind of socialism, specifically democratic socialism. But Bernie Sanders isn't actually in the Democratic Party, although he does caucus in the Senate with them. The actual Democratic Party plan is to boost existing programs like Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid, none of which are "socialism," because they still allow and even use private for-profit health insurance companies to provide coverage.
This cry is used beyond healthcare, of course. Rest assured, every Democratic effort to combat our growing climate crisis will have the same Republicans making the same cries of "socialism!" against them as well.
We absolutely believe as a party that every American deserves to have affordable access to health care. That's not socialism, it's compassion, it's decency, it's fair AND it makes good economic sense besides. These are core values for the Democratic Party. It's no wonder Republicans are "confused" by them.