Edward Miller on Why Republicans Won't Dump Alex JonesHistorians in the News
tags: conspiracy theories, Republican Party, far right, Alex Jones
More than 70 Republican candidates in competitive congressional and gubernatorial races across the country declined to denounce Alex Jones for popularizing the myth that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting never happened.
We reached out to every Republican candidate in a competitive race for Senate, House, or governor — 79 in total — and asked them whether they believe that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax, and whether they support the families suing Jones for defamation. Only seven candidates answered our questions.
Among the candidates who would not discuss Jones were several incumbents, including Ron Johnson, who’s fighting to keep his Senate seat in Wisconsin, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has a slight edge over Democratic challenger Val Demings. Also failing to answer our questions were Trump-endorsed Senate candidates Mehmet Oz, J.D. Vance, Herschel Walker, and Blake Masters.
The Republican Party is increasingly beholden to voters who embrace a variety of outlandish conspiracy theories, ranging from QAnon to debunked claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The candidates’ unwillingness to engage with questions about the Newtown massacre, and the pain that Jones’s lies have caused the victims’ families, further illustrates the GOP’s dependency on these constituents.
“The head of the Republican party is Donald Trump, who is a promoter of Alex Jones,” said Ted Miller, a professor at Northeastern University, who tracks the far-right’s influence on American politics and society. “And they don’t want to lose that base. Right now, there’s a significant amount of momentum in the direction of the conspiratorial-minded, and these folks are not willing to do the right thing and stand up against lies and misinformation and propaganda.”
Miller, the Northeastern professor and author of the recent book “A Conspiratorial Life: Robert Welch, the John Birch Society and the Revolution of American Conservatism,” said the silence of these lawmakers is unconscionable. “Especially if you’re a public figure,” he said, “that’s your job to speak out about these matters. You have an obligation.”
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