Wayne Swan’s remark last month that the US Republican Party had been taken over by “cranks and crazies” is notable in two respects.
First, it is true.
Second, it marks a further move towards a globalised politics, in which political arguments routinely transcend national boundaries.
The truth of Swan’s claim is so obvious that few, even in Australia, have bothered to dispute it. The following are just a sample of the lunatic beliefs held by much of the Republican Party base, propounded on its news outlets such as Fox News, and put forward by leading Republican politicians:
- That President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim, a rabid socialist and more sympathetic to jihadists than to the United States.
- That scientific evidence on climate change is the product of a global conspiracy aimed at imposing a UN-dominated world government.
- That opinion polls showing Republican candidate Mitt Romney trailing President Obama have been rigged in the hope of depressing the turnout of Republican voters.
While not all Republicans believe all of these things, few, if any, have been willing to repudiate these conspiracy theories and their advocates. Mitt Romney, for example, has equivocated on climate change, embraced “birthers” such as Donald Trump and, through his campaign organisation, promoted opinion poll denialism.