This essay first appeared in the May 13, 2022 Epoch Times.
During the six decades I’ve been observing politics, the dominant media have associated conspiracy hysteria almost entirely with the political right. Yet conspiracy theories also are fodder for the political left—including organizations the media treat as mainstream.
In an earlier essay, I documented how some “progressives” portrayed the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as an illegal plot. This was a silly characterization, but it served the goal of discrediting Barrett’s future decisions.
The left’s other conspiracy theories are similar: Although sometimes depicted in hysterical language, they are patently silly scenarios explainable only by the political agendas they serve.
Hysteria about Sheriffs
A Dec. 17, 2021, Washington Post opinion column, written by a Georgetown University law professor, sounds a warning against “extremist, dangerous and unconstitutional ‘constitutional sheriffs.’”
Despite this bloated language, “constitutional sheriffs” number, at most, a few hundred. As a practical matter, there’s little they can do against state and federal power.
Behind the absurdity, though, there lurks a purpose, which appears deep in the text of the article:
“To protect communities from abusive policing and our democracy from extremists within law enforcement, we must push back on assertions by sheriffs that they are above the law. That may mean changing state laws so that sheriffs are appointed rather than elected, because appointed officials can be more quickly removed for extremist behavior, and the electoral process has not been effective at holding sheriffs accountable.” (Italics added.)
In other words, because a tiny splinter group expounds an erroneous legal theory, we should carry out political purges and deprive 300 million Americans of their right to elect their local sheriffs! And this in the name of protecting “our democracy.” I pointed out in an earlier essay, “our democracy,” in the language of the left, often means “their oligarchy.” When elections are inconvenient for their oligarchy, some seek to abolish elections.
Crying ‘Wolf’ about Right-Wing Violence
Many leftists seem to get a thrill from fantasies about right-wing violence. In the real world, however, large-scale domestic violence and intimidation come almost exclusively from the left rather than the right.
Leftist violence and intimidation went big time in 1968, at the Democratic Convention and in the Watts section of Los Angeles. It continued through the campus seizures in the 1970s, the 1980 Miami riots, the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization riots, the 2011 occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol, the 2018 occupation of the Hart Senate office building, the 2018 storming of the Supreme Court, the 2020 Black Lives Matter/Antifa insurrections, and on and on. Intimidation continues today, as mobs harass Supreme Court justices and their families.
And unlike the mostly spontaneous—and nearly unique—right-wing riot of Jan. 6, 2021, leftist uprisings sometimes kill dozens of people.
So why the gaslighting about imminent right-wing violence? Well, it, too, serves a political goal.
Consider a recent Newsweek magazine article headlined, “Millions of Angry, Armed Americans Stand Ready to Seize Power If Trump Loses in 2024.” Newsweek’s principal “evidence” is (1) “Both Democrats and Republicans are rapidly losing faith in the integrity of U.S. elections” and (2) “In 2020, 17 million Americans bought 40 million guns and in 2021 were on track to add another 20 million. If historical trends hold, the buyers will be overwhelmingly white, Republican and southern or rural.”
Newsweek should be celebrating Americans’ return to their traditional interest in firearms. After all, historically an armed citizenry is a free citizenry—in Israel, in Switzerland, and in America. But the flaming bigots at Newsweek find the trend alarming, apparently because whites, Republicans, Southerners, and country people are evil and not to be trusted.
According to Newsweek, the situation is likely to get “worse.” The article quotes with approval yet another law professor who is upset because the Supreme Court soon may rule that the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” means that citizens may not just keep, but actually bear arms.
“The Supreme Court,” says the professor, “may be close to issuing the ruling that leads to the overthrow of the U.S. government.” Of course, if the author of the Newsweek piece had bothered to seek out an opposing point of view, he might have learned that legal gun holders are among the nation’s most law-abiding demographic groups.
So the hysteria is ridiculous. But its purpose—beyond the little thrill it gives—is serious. That purpose is to cashier the Second Amendment and take guns away from rural white guys and anyone else determined not to bow to authoritarianism.
Bloviating about ‘Convention of States’ Activists
Even weirder than the Washington Post and Newsweek articles is a recent fundraising letter from the pressure group Common Cause.
Common Cause began in 1970 as a bipartisan organization seeking reasonable, if sometimes misguided, reforms. Today, however, it’s largely funded by “progressive” financier George Soros and serves as an extension of the Washington, D.C. Swamp.
The letter demonizes those seeking a “convention for proposing amendments” (a kind of convention of the states) under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of the Article V movement is to obtain one or more constitutional amendments to correct federal overreaching and dysfunction. Examples are term limits, debt limits, and campaign finance reform—all favored by supermajorities of the American people.
It’s important to understand that all the major Article V organizations favor only amendments that retain the fundamental structure of our Constitution, that all discuss their ideas freely, and that all seek publicity. Furthermore, all are well within the mainstream political spectrum, ranging from conservative to moderately left-of-center.
Yet Common Cause depicts the whole lot as conspiring in “a dangerous far-right plot” promoting a “secret plan to rewrite our Constitution.”
Common Cause would have us believe “the Kochs” are behind it all—presumably Charles and David Koch, two brothers who traditionally funded libertarian causes. But there are no relevant “Kochs,” because David died nearly three years ago.
More importantly, the Koch foundations have assiduously avoided funding any Article V campaign. A well-connected and financially plush group like Common Cause must know this.
Common Cause’s particular bete noire is the center-right Convention of States Project (CoS). Common Cause charges that:
“Their agenda is clear and shocking. Shredding First Amendment protections. Gutting environmental regulations. Rolling back civil rights advances. And enshrining far-right wing economics as permanent fiscal policy. … Many constitutional experts believe it’s the biggest present threat to our democracy. …” (Bolding in original.)
(There’s that “our democracy” buzz phrase again.)
Common Cause also must know that the legislative resolution promoted by CoS actually prohibits altering the First Amendment or any other part of the bill of rights. Furthermore, Common Cause must know there’s little, if any, evidence that any prominent Article V advocates propose “gutting” environmental regulations or “rolling back civil rights advances.”
And Common Cause certainly knows that the fiscal measures proposed by some Article V advocates are a balanced budget rule (as has long existed in nearly all American states) and/or a measure similar to the “debt brakes” adopted by Switzerland and Germany. Neither represent “far-right wing economics.”
Nor are there any true “constitutional experts”—at least none with expertise on the constitutional amendment process—who think the Article V movement is a “threat to our democracy.” To my knowledge, not a single scholarly publication over the last 20 years has taken that position.
In other words, the Common Cause screed goes well beyond political hyperbole and into the realm of mendacity. Presumably, its purpose (besides raising money from gullible people) is to protect the D.C. Swamp.
Some political conspiracies do exist, although they’re rare and, in a free society, notoriously hard to execute. But none of the aforementioned “conspiracies” exist. They’re political mirages designed to lure Americans into giving up freedom and ceding more power to the political class.