The kind of paranoia and delusion that once resided on the fringe is winning presidential primaries and caucuses...
Back when he was a mere Reality TV star, Donald Trump published a less-than-140-character dissertation on climate change. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” That tweet from Election Day, 2012, drew 40,000 retweets or likes.
His Republican presidential rival, Senator Ted Cruz, sees a climate conspiracy as well. But it’s a different conspiracy, with different perpetrators, for different reasons. His culprits? “Liberal politicians, who want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.”
There has been so much lunacy, bombast, and ideological hair-pulling and eye-gouging in the current presidential campaign that the madness of these conspiracy theories has been overlooked. And even with the multitude of debates, the journalists who moderate them have almost totally avoided mentioning the issue at all.
May I offer two suggestions?
First, the ideal climate question for a Republican debate would be to ask Trump about Cruz’s conspiracy theory, and vice versa. They can’t both be right, though there’s ample opportunity for both to be wrong. And if past is prologue, they can’t possibly not disagree with each other.
It would be the kind of catfight that the debate producers have come to rely on for high ratings. Have at it, lads.
Second, I’d counsel the pundit class now covering this sorriest of presidential elections to seek the wisdom of the man whose multiple presidential runs were built on a fortress of wild conspiracies. Now mostly forgotten, 93 year-old Lyndon LaRouche was a candidate in every presidential election from 1976 to 2004, either as a Democrat, an Independent, or under the flag of his own U.S. Labor Party.
In 1992, he ran his campaign from a federal prison in Minnesota following his conviction on credit card fraud and obstruction of justice. For a time, fate conspired to give him disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker as a cellmate. In his autobiography, Bakker wrote, “to say that Lyndon was slightly paranoid would be like saying the Titanic had a bit of a leak.”
Oh, could Lyndon LaRouche spin conspiracies. Queen Elizabeth, Henry Kissinger, and the World Wildlife Fund, he said, controlled the worldwide heroin trade. Her Majesty has also held every U.S. President since Harry Truman by the short ones, as if the Brits never really surrendered at Yorktown. And popular culture, represented by The Beatles, Harry Potter and Pokémon among others, is a vast and centralized mind control effort to steer the world’s youth into either violence or torpor.
While dismissed as both a political theorist and a candidate, LaRouche did draw widespread attention. In the 1984 election cycle, he dropped millions of dollars on primetime network TV buys, giving rambling hour-long speeches to a national audience. LaRouche’s presidential aspirations peaked that year at about 78,000 general election votes.
Lyndon LaRouche is worth mentioning here because what Cruz and Trump have said about climate change is competitive with his lunacy. Unlike LaRouche, these men have a genuine shot at leading America and setting its climate agenda.
As his star continues to rise, Trump has uncharacteristically mellowed on climate denial, telling a gullible Fox News interviewer last year that the Chinese line was a joke. But he still deploys the word “hoax” on a regular basis, and drops a soundbite and a tweet on every cold weather day to refute climate change.
Cruz has doubled down, comparing himself to the persecuted Galileo and adding a parallel conspiracy theory about climate scientists, saying they’re only in it for the money. “In the debate over global warming, far too often politicians in Washington – and for that matter, a number of scientists receiving large government grants – disregard the science and data and instead push political ideology,” he told NPR. This is particularly ironic, given Cruz’s deep financial support from oil and gas men.
Either way, it’s chilling. The kind of paranoia and delusion that once resided on the fringe is winning presidential primaries and caucuses. And in case you may think we don’t have Lyndon LaRouche to kick around anymore, his think tank, the Schiller Institute, published a paper last September accusing the still-prolific Queen Elizabeth of strong-arming the Pope into stumping on climate change as a population control measure – despite the Catholic Church’s singular stance against population control even on a personal level.
So Lyndon LaRouche is a has-been, an ex-con, a tinfoil-hatted crackpot who was quadrennially laughed off the national stage. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are serious contenders for the presidency. Other than that, on climate change, I’m not sure I can tell the three of them apart.
The Daily Climate is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering energy, the environment and climate change. Find us on Twitter @TheDailyClimate or email editor Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski [at] EHN.org
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