ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 9/23/09
These (Were) trying times for Republicans (When this article was first written). Not only did we lose the (2008) election, we got pantsed. Control of both houses and the presidency have been lost. We’re involved in two unpopular wars, we‘re bordering on a third, the government is deeply in debt, the international economy is in the crapper, and whether wrong or right, the strong public consensus is that it’s entirely our fault. Whether you’re a die-hard Bush supporter, or a moderate who feels mistakes were made, I think it’s pretty obvious that the party and its members are having a bit of an image problem right now.
To that end, I humbly submit this guide on how we can change our reputation and not be perceived as paranoid racists and raving religious fanatics, at least on a one-to-one basis.
(I'm re-printing this series, even though we're winning now, simply because we *can* still blow it. Anything that helps us avoid that is a good thing, right?)
LESSON 3: “Conspiracy Theories”
I have this shirttail relative, an uncle who was always showing up and having long, seemingly-rational discussions about conspiracies. He was one of those guys who seemed smooth - good clothes, good diction, good delivery, seemed to be very well educated, and knew what he was talking about. Of course he was barking nuts, but I was too young to know it. He’d rail on over dinner in the 1970s about how “Washington and Moscow are not enemies, they’re working together, and Moscow is calling the shots,” and about how the Freemasons run the country, nay the world, and soon nothing (Excepting the John Birch Society) would stand in their way to prevent them from their evil goal of…uhm…ruling the world? Wait, don’t they rule the world already? That can’t be it. Anyway, soon there will be nothing to stop the freemasons from achieving their nefarious goal, whatever it is…Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure it’s got something to do with the Crab Nebula, but I could be wrong. I assume that’s nefarious, but I don’t really know why. I mean, if they already *ran* the world, wouldn’t their purpose be better described as “Status Quo?”
I digress: The point is that I loved the hell out of my uncle, and always looked forward to his visits. I was less enamored of his son, my cousin, who used to beat me up whenever they crashed at our house, but, eh. That’s life, I suppose. My uncle, though, was great. He’d wax on about the secret - and disturbing - nature of the Democratic party; he’d explain (To everyone’s clear annoyance) about why using decaffeinated coffee was *good* for enemas, but regular coffee was bad; he’d tell us all about how all the world’s ills could easily be cured by chiropractors, if only the damn evil satanic AMA would stop blocking their medical accreditation. I loved listening to him. He seemed like one of those knowledgeable, urbane, fatherly Dr. Kildare types, who just know stuff. Even when I was a bit older, and I began to realize that he was off his nut most of the time, I still liked listening to him. His world seemed so much more vital and passionate than the real one, so much more interesting. Shadow governments, eternal struggles between illuminati and an equally-shadowy band of republican businessmen in central Georgia, wildly revisionist history, samizdated newsletters with terrible grammar, egregious spelling errors, and alarming accusations that you could never trace back to their source- it was all so much more interesting than my world of spelling tests and will-she-or-won’t-she-go-skating-with-me anxiety. Although I was pretty sure the world didn’t work the way my uncle said it did by the time I was 16 or so, I still felt like it’s the way the world *should* work. It was just so much more fun his way.
Of course my uncle had mental problems out the ying yang. I’m not saying this to make fun of him (Though that’s your loss, it’s always a laugh-riot when it happens), just to point out that we’ve all met a lot of these seemingly-sane crazy people, and occasionally we listen to them more than we should. And if their schizophrenic babblings are repeated enough times, they become an urban legend and then a cultural meme, and there’s just no getting rid of them, no matter what you do. You can be the most rational, well-meaning, non-insane person in the