THE BLOG
03/17/2014 01:15 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2014

Why Do Conservatives Soak Up Lies?

The evidence that conservatives crave lies is abundant.

Conservatives loved George W. Bush's and Dick Cheney's lies about "Saddam's weapons of mass destruction" -- loved them so much, that the researchers who wrote "'There Must Be a Reason': Osama, Saddam, and Inferred Justification" surveyed 49 conservative Republicans, during October 2004, who admitted that they still believed Saddam Hussein had caused the 9/11 (2001) attacks, and these researchers found that 48 of those 49 extreme conservatives were entirely impervious to the overwhelming factual evidence that was provided to them by the presenters contradicting this false belief they held. Then, a separate study showed that when Republicans were offered the official 2004 Duelfer report that had concluded Iraq hadn't possessed any weapons of mass destruction for years before the United States invaded it in 2003, the percentage of Republicans who believed that Iraq did have WMD immediately prior to the invasion shot up, instead of going down (as, of course, would have happened if these people had been rational). Even all of the exposés that had already been published about Bush's faked WMD "proofs" didn't persuade Republican voters that they'd simply been deceived by the people they trusted and supported. They didn't resent it at all; they just asked for more, from those same discredited liars.

Conservatives also loved Sarah Palin's and Chuck Grassley's lies about "Obama's death panels" -- loved these lies so much, that "politically knowledgeable Palin supporters" actually increased their belief in the death panels, after being provided proof that it was a lie.

These believers in death panels were sometimes called "deathers." But there was also a "birther" lie, from Rupert Murdoch and others, which was popular among conservatives. On 15 February 2011, Public Policy Polling released their survey of likely Republican U.S. Presidential Primary voters for 2012. Headlining, "Huckabee Tops GOP Field; 51% Are Birthers," this report about lie-lovers said that, "A 51% majority of national GOP primary voters think President Obama was not born in the U.S. 28% know that he was." Murdoch's Fox "News" and talk-radio had nourished fantasy, and this was one result of that feeding-of-lies. But Murdoch's own The Australian, on the opposite side of the planet (which was safely distant from Murdoch's propaganda-factory inside the U.S.), headlined about this poll, "Republicans Refuse to Accept Barack Obama Was Born in US," and stated forthrightly something that Murdoch's minions in the U.S. never would or could: "Crazy is a word being used increasingly to describe a large and growing proportion of American conservatives who refuse to believe that President Obama was born in the United States." Those "crazy" people were Murdoch's own U.S. audience -- an audience of lie-lovers.

On November 22nd of 2011, thinkprogress.org headlined "Fox News Viewers Are the Most Misinformed: A Seventh Study Arrives to Prove It," and Chris Mooney linked to each of the 7 different studies that had been done of this subject, all of which found the same thing.

Conservatives also love the lie from the Koch brothers, Murdoch, and others, that global warming isn't happening and that it isn't being caused by human releases of carbon gases into the atmosphere, even though 97+% of the world's climatologists say that it is happening, and that it is being caused by human generation of carbon gases.

So: why do conservatives sop up lies, on topic after topic?

They do it because, if they didn't, they couldn't be themselves; they couldn't be conservatives. Lie-lovers is whom they are. It's their identity.

Fool them once, and once is not enough; they demand more lies. It's like heroin to them. They're addicts.

They can't get enough lies. They are addicted to being deceived. They need to believe conservatism and conservatives.

The Republican Party relies upon voters who are addicted to lies. So, conservatism is a drug, which will also have its pushers. And pushers serve suckers. It's a huge market -- the market for lies. And a huge business, serving them.

And that's why conservatives sop up lies: it's because they're conservatives. That's what a conservative is: someone addicted to lies.

A stunning article by Ron Suskind, in the New York Times Magazine, on 17 October 2004, headlined about Bush, "Without a Doubt: Faith, Certainty, and the Presidency of George W.Bush," and described the heedless confidence, the total lack of doubt, in a White House permeated by faith, and demanding compliance to it. Rejecting science was a matter of personal pride for them. Suskind reported how the Bush inner circle described this White House to him (mostly not for attribution).

One "senior adviser to Bush" explained the situation with remarkable frankness. Suskind wrote: "Guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernable reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors; and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

Similarly, Dick Cheney, according to Robert Draper's 2008 Dead Certain (p. 178), told Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, on 4 September 2002, not to worry that the U.S. might get bogged down in Iraq, because, "They're going to welcome us. It'll be like the American army going through the streets of Paris. They're sitting there ready to form a new government. The people will be so happy with their freedoms that we'll probably back ourselves out of there within a month or two." Armey bought the lie, and became a peddler of it himself.

It's like heroin to them, and many of the sellers are also buyers. They're high on lies -- even on the ones they themselves generate.

Not all of the users are also pushers, but the leading ones usually are.

It doesn't mean that they're not addicts, and that they're not liars. But, sometimes: a liar's biggest fool is himself.

Just think of it: Cheney actually believed that an Islamic culture, which had no tradition of democracy, would welcome being invaded by an army of Christians, led by a fundamentalist Christian President, whose first responses to the 9/11 attacks had been to declare a "Crusade" to answer it. Duh!

More conservative than that, isn't even imaginable.

But those people are no joke: On 12 January 2012, Gallup headlined "Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S.," and reported that whereas 40% of Americans said they were "Conservative," only 21% said they were "Liberal." And it's not as if Americans didn't know whom the conservatives are, or what they are: Conservatives had been even more powerful in the U.S. before the conservative "liberal" Obama was President than they are today. Americans have had plenty of experience with conservatism -- especially with conservatives who (like Republicans do) proudly proclaim their conservatism. Ronald Reagan proudly proclaimed his conservatism, and so Americans have long known what it's about.

Addiction to heroin is dangerous, but not nearly so dangerous as addiction to lies. Heroin doesn't take over the country, but conservatism often does: It even takes over the government, from time to time.

It's thus the most dangerous type of addiction there is.

Just consider what happened in Germany during 1933-1945, when purified conservatism was in control of that country.

Or what happened in Old Dixie (solidly conservative territory even today) during 1860-1865, when it formed the slave Confederacy.

Addiction to lies is very dangerous. But that's the way conservatives are; and nothing can be done regarding it, other than to defeat them.

It's like dealing with mosquitoes that are infected with malaria or West Nile virus, or controlling some other pest, or disease. It's just an ongoing threat to everyone else.

The biggest difference, however, is that, unlike mosquitoes, etc., the human version (conservatives) are self-righteous about what they are and do. But the reason for that is also clear: they soak up lies; and what is there to be more self-righteous about than beliefs in falsehoods? This is the only way they can be; the self-righteousness comes with what and whom they are, because they're the human variety.

For example: mosquitoes don't need lies. They can do what they do with no need for deception.

Sometimes, the truth is so simple. But to a conservative, it's like (in the legend) garlic is to vampires, and so they avoid it like the plague that they are.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.