GOP betting 2020 election success on selling 'crazy talk' and conspiracy theories to voters: columnist
U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell tried to move past the tensions that followed the collapse of the healthcare reform effort on Monday with a show of unity that focused on tax reform and other items on the Republican agenda.

Surveying the expanding 2020 election campaigns that are managing to cut through the wall-to-wall coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that has brought the U.S. -- and the world at large -- to a standstill, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson claimed that Republicans appear to be going all-in on pushing conspiracy theories to retain the White House and their Senate majority status.

According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, "Senate Republicans have made their choice: They’re putting on their tinfoil hats and staking their political future on transparent lies and wild conspiracy theories. The onetime 'Party of Lincoln' threatens to become the 'Party of Q.'"

Of note, Robinson points out, is the GOP's Senate nominee in Oregon, Jo Rae Perkins, who is an adherent of QAnon conspiracy theories as Republican leaders stand by.

Perkins "....avidly promotes the absurd and wholly fictitious QAnon story line. Adherents see President Trump as a heroic warrior fighting to save America and the world from an evil cabal of 'globalist,' sex-trafficking 'elites' who include moles within the government known as the 'deep state.' The supposed proof? Enigmatic posts on anonymous message boards from a 'Q Clearance Patriot' who claims to have the inside dope on a coming 'Storm' that will wash away this faction and purify the country."

"Reality check: No, it’s not," Robinson wrote. "It’s crazy talk, on the level of the paranoid speculation in Stanley Kubrick’s 'Dr. Strangelove' that Russians were using fluoride to taint Americans’ 'precious bodily fluids.'"

It would be one thing, the columnist notes, if it was just one fringe candidate promoting a conspiracy theories to a gullible public, but some of Perkins' theories are already being tossed about in Congress.

"Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for example, complained last year that there are 'Republican senators up here whose allegiance is more to the deep state than it is to the president.' At the time, Paul was arguing that the Senate should be holding hearings about Trump’s claim that the whole investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was nothing but a conspiracy to destroy Trump’s presidency," Robinson wrote. "If paranoid rants like this were just electoral performance art, that would be deplorable enough. But Republicans are using the power of their office to grant wishes to fantasists such as Paul, and to bolster conspiracy-minded voters who crave the feeling that they’re always on the brink of a major revelation."

According to the columnist, the GOP is already on the ropes when it comes to the November election, and lawmakers may be looking for a lifeline -- hence appealing to a fringe element of the electorate.

"Polls show Trump trailing badly against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump, who fancies himself a marketing genius, has so damaged the Republican brand that the party is in danger of losing Senate seats in Montana, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and Maine — for starters. Even in South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham is having to look over his shoulder at Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, who outraised him last quarter. The GOP’s 53-to-47 majority is in real peril of being erased," Robinson explained. 

"Republicans could have decided to cut Trump loose and try to save themselves — and, in the end, perhaps some will take that route. But Trump has so remade the Republican base in his own image, including by providing encouragement to a near-cult, that, as Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the party whip, told Politico: 'I just think that everybody realizes that our fortunes sort of rise or fall together.'" He wrote before warning, "An actor killed President Abraham Lincoln. A different kind of fiction may kill his party.

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