Where’s This Headed?

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TPM Reader PB finds the The Crazy “profoundly disturbing”:

I understand there is a strong temptation to look at primary victories by extreme candidates like Dan Maes as “good for Democrats.” As a strong Democratic partisan I also see them that way. And with Tancredo (another crazy person) in the race, I understand Maes’ chances of winning the gubernatorial are slim to none. On the other hand, I find it disturbing that someone like Maes was able to win the primary of a major political party. As a Democrat, I want to say “see look the Republicans have gone crazy.” But as an American I find the trend toward conspiracy theories and paranoia (on both the right and the left) profoundly disturbing.

It’s simply not healthy for a Democracy when you have a relatively large percentage of the population believing crazy theories about plots against the United States executed by the UN, or a secret one-world government, or whatever it is these folks believe. This kind of paranoia is poisonous to a Democracy, and opens the doors to demagoguery of the most dangerous type.

Of course this is nothing new, this kind of thinking always seems to take hold to a certain degree during times of great stress and especially economic hardship. But the fact that this kind of thing is predictable does not make it any less dangerous. Having a major party candidate like Maes spouting this kind of nonsense only serves to further legitimize it, whether he wins or not. The press needs to be extremely vigilant against these kinds of delusions, ruthlessly exposing them to the cold light of fact and rationality.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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